Uzeyir Hajibeyli: The "father" of Azerbaijani classical music

Uzeyir Hajibeyli: The "father" of Azerbaijani classical music
Copyright  euronews
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By Paul Hackett

It is impossible to imagine Azerbaijani culture without the name of one the greatest composers of the 20th century, and the founder of Azerbaijani classical music, Uzeyir Hajibeyli.

His immortal works have forever glorified his native city of Shusha, since he was the first composer who merged mugham, a unique style of Azerbaijani music, with elements of classical opera, and transferred folk singing to an orchestral score. He is also the author of the first opera of the East “Leyli and Majnun”.

In 1921 Uzeyir Hajibeyli created a Music Academy, invited famous professors, and a full range of classical music was taught in the conservatory.

This was the first classical conservatory of the East.”
Farhad Badalbeyli
Rector of the Baku Academy of Music

The influence of Uzeyir Hajibeyli on the further development of musical art in Azerbaijan is difficult to overestimate. His innovative and, at times, revolutionary decisions for that time changed the perception of operatic performance.

Students performing chamber music under the watchful eye of the Rector of the Baku Academy of MusicEuronews

"Uzeyir Hajibeyli’s favorite composer was Mozart. He adored him and even composed a fantasy inspired by Mozart’s C major sonata. He wrote a fantasy for the orchestra of Azerbaijani ethnic instruments. " Explains Farhad Badalbeyli, the Rector of the Baku Academy of Music.

Satirical and romantic, glorifying love for the Motherland and freedom, Hajibeyli's works have become rare jewels in the collection of world classical music.

In this piece, Uzeyir Hajibeyli expressed an Azerbaijani mugham called “Arazbari” in a classical chamber manner.
Orhan Huseynov
Cello student at the Baku Academy of Music

There is a piece of music called "Without you” or “Sensiz” in Azerbaijani, and it was inspired by the poems of Nizami, and dedicated to his 800th anniversary 

"When you listen to the piece you clearly hear the strong influence of mugham." Explains Joshgun Gadashov, a piano student at the Baku Academy of Music.

In many ways, it's thanks to these works that the world first learned about the existence of the mugham, which is today on the Intangible Cultural Heritage List of UNESCO.