Summer 2003 (11.2)
Recently, I had the
fortune to discover the Music section of AZER.com - the Web site
of Azerbaijan International magazine. To my delight, the staff
assisted me in my passion of collecting piano scores from the
countries that made up the former Soviet Union. Now I have more
than 1,000 pages of music from Azerbaijan. It hasn't always been
easy to locate music from these countries.
Now I'm familiar with the "Classical Music of Azerbaijan"
[6 CD set, 15 composers, 74 works]. It's been said that music
reveals the soul of a people. Nowhere is that more apparent than
with Azerbaijani composers in their synthesis of ideas and concepts
that always intrigue and delight. My only complaint is that there
are so few CDs available of this fantastic music.
This music expresses not only the passion and emotions of the
people of Azerbaijan, but there's a delicious oriental vein running
through so much of it, as reflected in the use of harmony, structure
and rhythm that I must confess, I've become quite mesmerized
I find it difficult to choose a favorite among Azerbaijani composers.
One day, I'm very much taken with the works of Gara Garayev and
Fikrat Amirov; the next day, it can be Hajibeyov or Vasif Adigozal.
To me, the brilliance of Azerbaijani music is its ability to
continue to delight the ear, the mind and heart. I discover hidden
depths every time I listen to it.
Often I find myself humming melodies that just seem to evolve
so naturally, such as the Andante movement of Gottfried Hasanov's
Piano Concerto performed by Farhad Badalbeyli on his recent double
release, "My Piano" (I'm humming it as I write this
It's strange how childhood experiences influence us years later.
One of my earliest memories as a young child was of hearing a
piece of piano music drifting across a sunlit garden from a neighbor's
house. For some unexplainable reason, that melody stuck in my
memory for many years. It wasn't until I was 14 years old that
I discovered who had composed it. Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C-Sharp
That was the beginning of a lifetime adventure collecting music.
My passion grew and I became fascinated with the culture of the
countries that made up the Soviet Union. Initially, my collection
included both orchestral, chamber and piano scores, but after
filling up several rooms in my house, I knew that I would have
to confine my collection to one category.
Being a pianist myself, I settled on piano scores. So I donated
my Orchestral & Chamber Collection to the Russian Music Studies
Department at the University of London, which is under the direction
of Russian cellist and musicologist, Alexander Ivashkin. My collection
is now part of the new Prokofiev Archives.
Well, I'm delighted that my collection of piano scores from the
countries that made up the Soviet Union continues to grow and
now includes Azerbaijan. Again this collection is now quite sizeable
and is recognized as one of the largest, outside of those countries.
Because of the enormous exposure to this music, I am now in the
process of compiling a Dictionary of Russian and Soviet Piano
Music (currently the text has grown to more than 1,000 pages).
My contacts across the globe have also expanded and include the
International Piano Archive in the U.S. On occasion, I have been
asked to supply scores for potential recordings, which gives
me great satisfaction to be able to share my enthusiasm and enjoyment
of music that amazes me with its brilliance, warmth and wonderful
sense of life and energy.
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