Azerbaijan International

Summer 1997 (5.2)
Pages 58-59

Ali Salimi
Composer of "Ayrilig" Dies

For more details about Ali Salimi's life see Ali Salimi Remembered by Pirouz Khanlou (2.4)
For lyrics and musical notation of "Ayrilig" in both Azeri and English visit, Latin, Music.

Below: Ali Salimi with his wife in their home in Tabriz, 1993.

Beloved tar player, composer and music instructor Ali Salimi died in Tabriz in April 1997. Salimi was born in Baku in 1922. In 1938, at the beginning of World War II, Stalin ousted all non-citizens from the Soviet Union. Salimi's mother did not want to be separated from her husband, an Iranian, so she lied claiming that she was a native of Ardabil (Iran) and, thereby, succeeded in getting herself and her children eligible to join the crowds of refugees heading south to Iran. Salimi, a youth at the time, fled with the refugees carrying only his tar across the border.

In the 1940s and 50s, performing music in Iran was associated with drug addicts and smoking opium, but Salimi's music was so dearly loved that officials invited him to start playing everyday on Tehran Radio. He later went on to create a string ensemble for the radio which continued until a few years before the Islamic Revolution (1979).

Salimi is most remembered for the hauntingly mournful melody of "Ayrilig" (Separation), a song set to lyrics written by Farhad Ibrahimi which was an immensely popular hit in the late 1960s both among Azerbaijanis living in the North (Soviet Azerbaijan) and the South (Iran). Both Baku's Rashid Behbudov and Tehran's "Googoosh", a famous Iranian female singer of Azerbaijani descent, popularized it. The song also played a symbolic role in Baku's quest for independence in the late 1980s.

From Azerbaijan International (5.2) Summer 1997.
© Azerbaijan International 2002. All rights reserved.

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