By Nigar Orujova
President Ilham Aliyev unveiled a monument to great Azerbaijani opera singer Bulbul in Baku last Wednesday.
The president was warmly welcomed by prominent Azerbaijani musicians, members of the singer's family and foreign guests.
Aliyev laid flowers at the monument and addressed the unveiling ceremony.
The president noted that Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis have always revered the memory of their outstanding personalities.
"Bulbul was a great personality, a great master, the founder of Azerbaijan's professional vocal art," Aliyev said.
He voiced appreciation for the folk songs, mughams and classical opera roles that Bulbul performed from "the golden fund of Azerbaijani music".
"Bulbul hasn't been with us for over fifty years. However, love for him lives on in the hearts of our people. This love clearly demonstrates recognition of his talent, his greatness."
The president noted the wide scope of Bulbul's activity, including his creative endeavors as actor, folk singer, opera singer and public figure.
"For many, the image of Koroglu is identified with Bulbul. His performance of Koroglu was essentially the peak of his career as an opera singer," Aliyev said.
According to the president, Bulbul was a true Azerbaijani intellectual. He was attached to his people and national roots, and was open to the world at the same time. Bulbul promoted Azerbaijani music in the Soviet Union and beyond.
Aliyev said Bulbul's name has been immortalized in Azerbaijan.
"There is an avenue named after him, a music school that bears his name has been in operation for many years. Bulbul house museums were established in Shusha in 1982 and in Baku in 1983. In 1997, on the order of great leader Heydar Aliyev, a special plan to mark the 100th birthday anniversary of Bulbul on state level was prepared and implemented. The international competition named after Bulbul has been held ever since."
"This year we mark the 115th anniversary. A statue has been erected in the center of Baku, next to his home. This, of course, shows the attitude of the Azerbaijani people and state to his memory, great respect for Azerbaijani culture, prominent personalities," Aliyev stressed.
"Bulbul was born in a beautiful part of our country, in Karabakh, in Shusha. The spectacular scenery, air, water springs, the beauty of Karabakh gave him the strength and inspiration. It was the richness and beauty of the Karabakh land that fueled his unique voice."
The president emphasized that the city of Shusha where Bulbul was born has been under Armenian occupation for more than 20 years.
"The Armenians have implemented a policy of ethnic cleansing against Azerbaijanis...We have also been exposed to cultural genocide. Our religious, historical and cultural sites have been destroyed. These include the busts of Bulbul, Hurshidbanu Natavan, Uzeyir Hajibayli in Shusha, which have been riddled with Armenian bullets...The statues of Bulbul, Natavan, Uzeyir Hajibayli will now be erected in Shusha. I am sure that we will participate in the unveiling of these statues, the national flag of Azerbaijan will wave over Khankandi and Shusha," Aliyev said.
Principal of the Baku Music Academy, People's Artist Farhad Badalbayli, People's Artist Arif Babayev, chair of the jury of the 4th Bulbul International Contest of Vocalists Sergei Leiferkus, artistic director of the contest Robert Koerner, son of the prominent singer Polad Bulbuloglu spoke of Bulbul's role in developing Azerbaijani music.
The Bulbul statue was made by honorary artist Akif Asgarov. The monument is 4.6 meters high.