Creativity and Arts in Azerbaijan
Music. Musical activity on the territory of the present-day Azerbaijan is first reflected in cave-paintings of ceremonial dance scenes, found in Gobustan, and dating from the 8th-10th centuries B.C. The heroic epic, "Kitabi Dede-Gorgud", gives us valuable indications concerning certain aspects of music and its role in early medieval Azeri society. The renowned medieval scholars, Safiaddin Urmavi and Abdulgadir Maragi, went on to explore the theoretical foundations of Azeri music. Azeri music itself developed in two directions up to the beginning of the 20th century. On the one hand, there was the music of the professional musicians, who transmitted the mugam and ashug oral traditions. On the other, there was folk music, embodying a wide range of genres. A new era in the musical life of our country was ushered in by the brilliant composer and teacher, Uzeyir Hajibeyov (1885-1948), who laid the foundations of modern, professional Azeri music, essentially based on a fusion of the world and national musical traditions.
The 1920s and 1930s saw musical life in the country take off. The Conservatoire was founded in 1921, and many other colleges of music and music schools (including the ten-year school which opened at the Conservatoire in 1938) were established. The Opera and Ballet Theatre was founded in 1920, bringing together a number of existing troupes. At Uzeyir Hadjibeyov's initiative the following collectives were founded: a symphony orchestra in 1920, the national orchestra in 1931, the state choir in 1936. The Union of Composers of Azerbaijan was founded in 1934. The national vocal tradition was founded by the outstanding singer, Byul-Byul, who successfully married the best of the national style with Italian "belle canto" and European professionalism and technique. The national symphonic movement started in the 1940s with outstanding Azerbaijan composer Gara Garayev, whose music also fuses foreign styles and native traditions, as do many of the works of his pupils and successors. Around the same time, the other brightest Azerbaijan composer Fikret Amirov invented a new genre - the symphonic mugam - which made him famous.
A qualitatively new stage came in the 1960s
A qualitatively new stage came in the 1960s,when Khruschev's "thaw" gave Azeri composers a measure of freedom and released their creative potential. The result was a number of innovative works, which took the latest compositional techniques and adapted them to fit the national lexicon. In 1969, for the first time the piano player Farhad Badalbayli was conferred the rank of laureate in the international competition, being at present the head of the Baku Music Academy. Susequently, this list was filled up with the famous names such as Vasif gasanov, Elvina Zeynalova, rauf Gasimov, Valid Rasulov, Arzu Aleskherova, Murad Adigozalzadeh, Murad Guseynov and others. The Azerbaijan vocal school was highly represented by Fidan Gasimova, Khuraman Gasimova, as well as by Ali askherov, garina Kheromova, Gasn Enami, Farida Mammadova, Dinara Aliyeva, Avez abdullayev, Makhira Guliyeva and others in the international area.
Quality and openness to the outside world have always been the hallmarks of Azeri culture, and Baku's long-standing cosmopolitan tradition, and the country's geographical situation, have both been major contributory factors. From the 1960s through the 1980s, these features were enhanced and illustrated by numerous concerts, festivals and competitions. There are countless types and styles of music, and different traditions - classical, jazz, the oral tradition and the avant-garde - can coexist happily. The festival movement peaked in the second half of the 1980s, when the various genres all got large-scale events - the Gara Garayev Festivals of 20th-Century Music (1986, 1988, 1990), the Khari Byulbyul International Folk Music Festival, and the Vagif Mustafazadeh Jazz Forums. The 12th Glinka competition for singers from all parts of the Soviet Union (1987) and the "Towards the Zenith" new music festival (1989) were both held in Baku.