Two Genius of Our Music

Two Genius of Our Music

Every year Azerbaijan celebrates the Day of Music on September 18th. Uzeyir Hajibeyli and Muslim Magomayev - the two genius, founders of Azerbaijan's professional music and national school of music who had done much for the development of the musical culture, were born on that day 1885.

130th Anniversary of the both masters of Azerbaijan's professional music is celebrated at the country level this year.   

In reality, you could rarely meet two persons who have such a rather alike fate...

Seminary had brought them together...

Uzeyir Hajibeyov was born in Agjabadi. His father, Abdul Huseyn Hajibeyov was the secretary to Khurshidbanu Natavan for many years and was responsible for her property in that district. Hajibeyov received his early education at a religious school (madrasah), where he perfected his Arabic and Persian. Later he studied at a two-year Russian-Azerbaijani school at his uncle's class.  

Muslim's father was born in Ilisu village of Gakh district, later he moved to Vladigavkaz and then to Grozny. He, Abdulmuslim Magomayev was born into a family of a blacksmith in Grozny and studied at a primary school.

Both the children were wise, open-minded and loved to study. Moreover, both of them had musical talent. The richness of the musical performance tradition of Shusha - often dubbed as the cradle of Azerbaijani music and culture, greatly influenced the musical education of Uzeyir Hajibeyov. Also in Muslim's family music had a specific place.

In 1899, the two teenage, 14 years old, arrived at the Transcaucasian  Teachers' Seminary in Gori (Georgia), then they didn't imagine that they would march forward side-by-side for almost 40 years. The 5-year education played irreplaceable role in formation of Uzeyir and Muslim's outlook. They got closely acquainted with world culture at the Seminary. They demonstrated a great effort to learn the ABC of the professional music. Along with general education, U. Hajibeyov also acquired the works of European classics and learned to play the violin, the violoncello and the brass instrument. U. Hajibeyov copied the folk song samples on music-paper, and M. Maqomayev who had also played accordion and Azerbaijan folk music since childhood, showed interest in violin and clarinet. While Uzeyir set aside some time on studying musical theory, Muslim participated in concerts as a violinist and was esteemed as a leading musician and conductor of the Seminary's orchestra  

Later Ali Teregulov, of the same age and their future relative would write in his memories: "Uzeyir, Muslim and some other schoolmates couldn't always manage to go home in winter and summer vacations. Then they stayed in a holiday centre. Sometimes they traveled to Tiflis to see me. The violin was always with them and we had a very nice time. Duets, trios and pieces of music replaced one another. Going to the opera was great joy for us, we enjoyed the performance and we were deeply excited. At a later stage we discussed various pieces of music, arias from the opera and the actors' proficiency"

Parting made their friendship stronger...

In 1904, they graduated from the Gori Seminary. Uzeyir and Muslim temporarily parted from each other. Uzeyir Hajibeyov was appointed as a teacher to the village of Hadrut of Cabrayil district. He taught the Russian language, history and music. But after the events of 1905-1907, he was obliged to settle in Baku. He worked at school in Bibiheybat, then for 'Saadat' school and started his literary-publicistic activity: worked as an interpreter for "Hayat" newspaper and contributor for "Irshad" newspaper.  

Certainly it was Muslim Maqomayev that was one of those who was most of all glad when the first opera - Leyli and Majnun  in the East  was performed on January 1906.      

In 1911, Uzeyir went to Moscow to get education, but due to financial problems he was obliged to return to Baku.  

Muslim initially worked as a teacher in the North Caucasus, then in Lenkaran. In parallel with teaching, he set up a chorus, brass and string orchestra and theatre group at school; besides, he successfully passed the exams and received a license that allowed him to teach at urban schools. In these years, Uzeyir Hajibeyli and Muslim Magomayev improved their professionalism. They were friends, and then they became relatives. They both became relatives with the Teregulovs. Uzeyir Bey got married to Maleyke Khanum, and Muslim Bey to Badiguljamal Teregulova. Moreover, in 1911, Muslim moved to Baku upon the recommendation of Uzeyir Bey, and started teaching at school in Sabunchu district and set up pupils' chorus and orchestra. And just all these attempts paved the way for fundamental creative cooperation of two great musicians.


Years of Inspired Creative Efforts  

1909-1915 years were very fruitful for Uzeyir Bey. Day and night he composed librettos entirely based on mughams: "Sheikh Sanan" (1909), "Rustam and Zohrab" (1910), "Shah Abbas and Khurshud Banu" (1912), "Asli and Karam" (1912), "Harun and Leyla" (1915); and wrote music on the motives of "Shahname" by Firdovsi, folk eposes and legends.     

Muslim Magomayev started closely to cooperate with Uzeyir Hajibeyli; he became the head of a theatre troupe set up by Uzeyir Hajibeyli and played the violin at opera performances. Since 1912 he had conducted the operas "Leyli and Majnun", Asli and Karam" , "Sheikh Sanan" and musical comedy "Arshin MalAlan" ("The Cloth Peddler").  In 1916, Muslim Magomayev composed his first largest musical work - "Şhah Ismayil" that brought him fame as a composer. Years will pass and his grandson, worldwide famous Muslim Magomayev will sing the aria of Aslan Shah from the same opera...

The country was under the pressure of the tsar Russia and religion, the people were illiterate, and it was even dangerous to think over the idea of establishing a national musical theatre. While putting on an opera or a musical composition Uzeyir Hajibeyli, Muslim Magomayev and their colleagues run across certain moral and pecuniary burdens, they were subjected to severe criticism and humiliation.   

During the very short years of independence Uzeyir Hajibeyli and Muslim Magomayev devoted themselves to the strengthening of the national statehood. Uzeyir Bey, as the chief-editor of the "Azerbaijan" newspaper and the author of the first national anthem, Muslim bey as the musical manager,  did their best to serve the young democratic state.   


Unwanted service to the new power

In the first days of the Soviet power that had been established under unbelievable repressions Uzeyir Hajibeyli and Muslim Magomayev faced with the danger of physical death. Those years the name of Uzeyir Hajibeyli was more frequently sounded along with the names of "public enemies". Even in 1920, Pankratov with nickname "Butcher" intended to shoot him dead; the danger was past just by chance. Hanafi Teregulov, his brother-in-law, inveterate communist by faith saw Uzeyir's name on the list with 59 people on whom execution was issued and immediately went to see Nariman Narimanov and explained the situation. N. Narimanov looked through the list and advised he composer to leave Baku for some time. Furthermore, Jeyhun Hajibeyov's, his brother staying in France as a political migrant was as a sword of Democles over his head.  Jeyhun Hajibeyov travelled to Paris to participate in Paris Peace Conference.  

One of Hajibeyov's greatest legacies was bringing forward the idea of establishing a professional musical school. He founded the Baku Academy of Music (known then as the Azerbaijan State Conservatoire) in 1920 and named after Hajibeyli after his death.

Muslim Magomayev's management skills opened the doors for his career. He became the head of Art Department at the People Education Commissariat of the Azerbaijan Republic and the head of the Music Department at the Azerbaijan Radio Centre. Later he was successful at the post of Director of the Turk State Theatre, Director of  the Azerbaijan State Opera and Ballet Theatre, art director and conductor. He was the connoisseur of Mugham and he expended great energy and time on converting the Azerbaijani folk songs into musical notes. In 1927, Muslim Magomayev and Uzeyir Hajibeyli compiled a journal "Azerbaijan Turk Folk Songs"; he provided more than 300 folk songs and dance music with musical notes. The first experience in noting the Mugham in Azerbaijan music belongs to Muslim Magomayev - he converted Rast Mugham into notes.  


Tragic year of 1937 and Uzeyir's 11-year loneliness

This threat followed these two masters until the last day of their lives.  Especially when the known repressions started in the 30s, both Uzeyir Hajibeyli and Muslim Magomayev knew well that their lives were not ensured against the repression.    

Written in 1935, Magomayev's most major work 'Nargiz' was successfully performed. For 'Nargiz' opera Muslim Magomayev was awarded the honorary title of Honored Artist of the Azerbaijan Republic. His satirical musical comedy 'Khoruz Bey', ballet 'Dali Mukhtar' ('Crazy Mukhtar'), opera 'Love' (unfinished) and works composed in national symphonic genre were included into the musical treasury of the Azerbaijan history.

'Koroghlu' was written in 1936 and first performed on April 30, 1937 at the Azerbaijan State Opera and Ballet Theater in Baku and it was a great success. And three months later, on July 23 1936 he lost his devoted friend - Muslim Magomayev. "Muslim Magomayev, was authentically the people's composer, a brave innovator and true realist", later Uzeyir Hajibeyli wrote.   

In 1938, the operas 'Arshin Mal Alan' ("The Cloth Peddler") and 'Koroghlu' were met with great interest at the Azerbaijan Art Decade in Moscow. Just the love of 'Peoples' Father' - Stalin towards the performance that he had seen in his young days saved Uzeyir Hajibeyli from danger.  In 1938, he was awarded with the title of People's Artist of the USSR. He was also honored with the Order of Lenin and the Stalin Prize which he won twice, once in 1941 for the opera Koroghlu (1936), and the other time in 1946 for the film based on his opera Arshin Mal Alan. But Uzeyir Hajibeyli' last opera 'Firuza' remained unfinished due to his moral sufferings. He was so happy for the grandson's birth - he called him Muslim, but the death of his son Muhammad, the baby's father in the war of 1943 was a great shock for him. He left this life on November 23, 1948 when he was 63 years old due to the shock he had sustained.

Today we can confirm that Uzeyir Hajibeyli was the creator of a new tendency in the musical history of Azerbaijan and was the founder of the national school of composers. And Muslim Magomayev played an ultimate role in the formation and enrichment of our musical culture...  



Nariman Abdulrahmanly