By Laman Ismayilova
Seventy-two years have passed since the death of prominent national composer Uzeyir Hajibeyli. Known as the author of the first opera in the East, he left a significant mark in music history.
The memory of the legendary composer was honoured in Serbia. The ceremony was attended by members of the diplomatic corps accredited in the country and diaspora members.
The memory of Uzeyir Hajibeyli was commemorated with a minute of silence. A wreath was laid at the monument to great Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibeyli in Novi Sad, Serbia.
History recognizes Hajibeyli as an innovator. He was the first to establish a professional music school and Orchestra for Traditional Folk Instruments, to compose the Muslim world’s first opera and operetta and to introduce a woman on stage. Moreover, Hajibeyli is also the author of Azerbaijan's national anthem (which is the official anthem today). The composer was awarded the highest artistic title of the Soviet Union.
The idea of the Azerbaijani opera was born in the heart of Uzeyir at age of 13, when he watched a dramatization of the story of Majnun at Leyli's Tombstone in Shusha.
"That performance affected me so much that when I came to Baku years later, I decided to write something like that," he wrote.
"At that time, I knew only the basics of sol-fa, and had no idea of harmony, counterpoint, and musical forms ... However, the success of "Leyli and Majnun" was great. In my opinion, it gained popularity thanks to the fact that the Azerbaijani people had expected the appearance of the national opera at the stage. The opera combined authentic folk music and a popular classic story."
Furthermore, the composer wrote his next operas "Sheikh Sanan", "Rustam and Sohrab", Asli and Karam, "Shah Abbas and Khurshudbanu" and "Harun and Leyli" which were entirely based on national folk music elements, primarily mugham.
His opera "Koroghlu" was based on episodes from the Epic of Koroghlu, a heroic legend prominent in the oral traditions of the Turkic peoples. The opera premiered on April 30, 1937, at the Azerbaijan State Opera and Ballet Theatre.
He also composed three comedies including, "Husband and Wife" (1910), "If not this one, that one" (1911) and "Arshin Mal Alan" (1913).
"Arshin Mal Alan" or "The Cloth Peddler" was the latest and one of the most popular operettas of the eminent composer.
The operetta has been successfully performed in a plethora of languages in over 60 countries of the world, including in the USA, Austria, France, China, Greece, India, Russia and Turkey.
The tradition of celebrating the birthday of the great composer as a holiday was laid by eminent conductor Niyazi Hajibeyov, who used to celebrate this day each year after Uzeyir Hajibeyli’s death. This tradition continues till nowadays.
September 18 is celebrated as "Uzeyir Music Day" under national leader Heydar Aliyev's decree in 1995.
Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Lamiva993
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