Azerbaijan International

Summer 2003 (11.2)
Page 9

Readers' Forum
Azerbaijani Music Scores

Recently, I had the fortune to discover the Music section of - 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 by it.

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 letter).

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 Minor.

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.

Malcolm Henbury-Ballan
Southampton, England

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