Winter 2000 (8.4)
of Tofig Guliyev
lyrics available at AZERI.org
composer Tofig Guliyev passed away October 4, 2000 at
age 83. Among Azerbaijan's composers, Guliyev was one of the
most universally loved. Guliyev was a prolific composer of vocal
works, especially love songs which have become such classics
that people often refer to them as "songs that never die."
He wrote the music for about 250 love songs.
During the 50s, 60s and 70s, his musical classics were performed
by Azerbaijan's foremost singers, including Bulbul, Rashid Behbudov
and Shovkat Alakbarova.
He was also active in several other genres of music. For instance,
in 1941 he and Azerbaijani conductor Niyazi were at the forefront
of the Azerbaijani jazz movement despite the resistance to this
genre during those early years in the Soviet Union. Together
they formed the Azerbaijan National Jazz Orchestra.
Guliyev also wrote a number of film scores, including the music
for "Telephone Girl", "Bakhtiyar", "Meeting",
"Stepmother" and "Nasimi".
When asked which song was his favorite, he always used to reply,
"If I would choose any of my songs as favorite, it would
mean the end of my creation. Any new song that you anticipate
writing becomes your favorite. It's the anticipation that makes
it your favorite."
Guliyev was born in Baku on November 7, 1917, only a few months
before Soviet troops took control of Baku, and he lived to see
the collapse of the Soviet Union in his lifetime (1991). He studied
music at the Azerbaijan State Conservatory (now Academy), then
went on to the Moscow Conservatory, where he eventually finished
his post-graduate studies.
From 1954 -1958, Guliyev worked as a professor at the Azerbaijan
State Conservatory. He served as First Secretary of the Composers'
Union of Composers from 1973 to 1990, then as Chairman of the
Union from 1990 until his death.
He was a prolific reader and collected a substantial library
of books related to world class fiction, art and the history
of politics. He had a special fondness for Churchill.
Guliyev tried to stay abreast of current affairs via newspapers
and other media so as not be left behind by members of the younger
generation. Despite his brilliance as a musician, he was known
for his modesty and accessibility.
During the Soviet period, Guliyev was named People's Artist of
Azerbaijan and awarded the Order of the Red Labor Banner of the
USSR and the medal for Heroic Labor during World War II.
Following Azerbaijan's independence, he was awarded the Istiglal
(Independence) Order, the highest honor bestowed upon citizens
in the independent Republic. His 80th Jubilee was celebrated
as a State function in 1997. He was buried in Fakhri Khiyaban
(Alley of the Honored Ones).
In 1998 Azerbaijan International magazine produced the first
of Guliyev's works, entitled "Songs of the Heart" (Urak
The project was sponsored by BP and Statoil Alliance and contains
20 songs, many of them sung by Rashid Behbudov (1915-1989)
and Shovkat Alakbarova (1922-1993). This was one of the
very first CDs produced in Azerbaijan to include the Azeri lyrics
written out in the new official Latin alphabet.
interview of Tofig Guliyev appears in the Spring 1995 issue, (AI 3.1) and
recollections of working with Rashid Behbudov in AI 3.4 (Winter 1995).
(8.4) Winter 2000.
© Azerbaijan International 2000. All rights reserved.
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