Shafiga Akhun­dova - first fe­male com­poser of East

Azer News - - FRONT PAGE - By Sara Ra­jabova

Shafiga Akhun­dova, the first pro­fes­sional fe­male author of an opera in the East and a le­gend of the Azer­bai­jani mu­sic his­tory, passed away on July 26 at the age of 89.

Shafiga Akhun­dova, the first pro­fes­sional fe­male author of an opera in the East and a le­gend of the Azer­bai­jani mu­sic his­tory, passed away on July 26 at the age of 89.

Akhun­dova, who suc­ceeded in open­ing a mag­nif­i­cent page in the Azer­bai­jani mu­sic art, cre­at­ing a myr­iad of beau­ti­ful and valu­able works, was buried in the sec­ond Al­ley of Honor af­ter a three-hour farewell cer­e­mony on July 27.

She was a com­poser with a broad range of cre­ativ­ity and her works have played an im­por­tant role in the ed­u­ca­tion and up­bring­ing of the new gen­er­a­tion in Azer­bai­jan.

Akhun­dova, who was born on Jan­uary 21, 1924 in Sheki, a mag­nif­i­cent and his­tor­i­cal town of Azer­bai­jan, de­voted al­most 70 years of her life to the cul­ture and art of her home coun­try.

It is in­ter­est­ing that the date of birth of this prom­i­nent com­poser co­in­cided with the date of death of the USSR leader Vladimir Lenin. There­fore, her mother was a bit dis­ap­pointed that her daugh­ter was born just on the same day. Be­cause on that day ev­ery­one went to a rally and left the new­born baby and her mother alone.

But how could her mother know that her lit­tle girl would be­come an out­stand­ing com­poser and peo­ple's fa­vorite artist in the fu­ture?

Shafiga was a lucky per­son, be­cause her mother Zu­leykha and el­der sis­ter Zum­rud al­ways sup­ported her in her choice. Her mother loved to play the ac­cor­dion and the fam­ily en­joyed lis­ten­ing to her. Shafiga's sis­ter also played an im­por­tant role on her way to com­pos­ing.

At an early age her mu­si­cal tal­ent was ob­vi­ous to the fam­ily, and es­pe­cially when lit­tle Shafiga played the pi­ano she made mir­a­cles hap­pen. Mu­sic be­came an in- tegral part of her life.

How­ever, dur­ing those times, it was un­usual for a woman to be en­gaged in mu­sic and to be a singer or a com­poser. Most of the peo­ple didn't ac­cept this due to the stereo­types that were wide­spread at the time.

There­fore, her fa­ther didn't want his daugh­ter to be a mu­si­cian and was very dis­sat­is­fied with her choice. Ac­cord­ing to Shafiga Akhun­dova, he wanted to see her as a doc­tor. Her fa­ther was a very se­ri­ous man and was not so ad­dicted to mu­sic. Al­though they had a pi­ano at home, he al­ways kept it locked to pre­vent lit­tle Shafiga from play­ing it. He even had hid­den his wife's ac­cor­dion in or­der to make Shafiga for­get mu­sic. Lis­ten­ing to mu­sic and even say­ing the word "mu­sic" was for­bid­den in their fam­ily.

But de­spite her fa­ther's dis­sat­is­fac­tion and all the trou­bles she was de­ter­mined in her choice and af­ter fin­ish­ing school she sub­mit­ted doc­u­ments to the Con­ser­va­tory and was ad­mit­ted. Her com­pos­ing skills rose to a pro­fes­sional level.

When her fa­ther learned that Shafiga at­tended the Con­ser­va­tory, he got an­gry with her and didn't let her come home. She even had to stay at her neigh­bors' place for a while.

Al­though she stayed out of home in snowy and cold weather be­cause of her fa­ther's de­ci­sion, the love for mu­sic wouldn't let Shafiga go back on her dream and she en­riched her mu­si­cal ex­pe­ri­ence even more.

On this path, the first pro­fes­sional com­poser in the Azer­bai­jani mu­sic his­tory, the one with out­stand­ing per­son­al­ity, Uzeyir Ha­jibe­yov, sup­ported her. She was lucky to have had such a great and at­ten­tive teacher.

Shafiga said, " I re­al­ized that no one and noth­ing could keep me away from this work. I was born for this art. The pres­ence of the great mas­ter, Uzeyir Ha­jibe­yov, fur­ther in­creased my strength." She val­ued the ac­quain­tance with this great com­poser as a pre­cious gift of life.

Shafiga re­ceived her pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion at Baku Mu­sic School named af­ter Asaf Zey­nally, where she had been taught by Uzeyir Ha­jibe­yov for eight years. Then, in 1956, she con­tin­ued her ed­u­ca­tion at Azer­bai­jan State Con­ser­va­tory named af­ter Uzeyir Ha­jibe­yov, from which she grad­u­ated from the class of prom­i­nent com­poser Boris Zey­d­man.

Later the com­poser re­called: "Uzeyir Ha­jibe­yov opened train­ing cour­ses within the Con­ser­va­tory and three times a week he was giv­ing us lessons. He ei­ther taught the fun­da­men­tals of the Azer­bai­jani folk mu­sic to young com­posers in the gen­eral group, or in­di­vid­u­ally was en­gaged in the work we com­posed; also, we copied mughams to our notes. Uzeyir Ha­jibe­yov in­vited the dis­tin­guished pro­fes­sor of the Len­ingrad Univer­sity Zey­d­man to Baku in or­der to teach the clas­si­cal rules of the com­pos­ing art more thor­oughly. We learned the se­crets of com­pos­ing from this great mas­ter."

Re­mark­ably, Shafiga Akhun­dova was a wor­thy suc­ces­sor of great com­poser Uzeyir Ha­jibe­yov.

In 1972, Akhun­dova com­posed her first opera, " Galin gayasi" ( Bride's Rock), and be­came the first fe­male com­poser in the East. This opera's com­bi­na­tion of the clas­si­cal mu­sic with the oral tra­di­tional clas­si­cal mugham con­firms the preser­va­tion of the com­pos­ing style of Uzeyir Ha­jibe­yov and shows her unique tal­ent and mu­si­cal skill.

Many prom­i­nent mu­si­cians ex­pressed pos­i­tive opin­ions about this opera. Also, the per­for­mance of this opera won the ac­claim of the peo­ple and brought great suc­cess to its author.

Akhun­dova is also the author of the won­der­ful songs " Leyla", "Happy Land", the op­eretta "Our home, our se­cret" (1965), pieces for a string quar­tet, the dra­matic plays "Aydin", "Farewell to In­dia!", " What do you live for?", etc. and mu­sic for chil­dren's plays such as "A tale of a clown", "Birth­day of a rab­bit", etc. She is the author of more than 600 works and com­posed mu­sic for more than 30 spec­ta­cles staged in state the­aters.

Akhun­dova could at­tain the peak of mu­sic art and suc­ceed as a mu­si­cian, but un­for­tu­nately she was an un­happy mother. She lost her only son pre­ma­turely and in her el­derly years was still griev­ing for him.

Her son, Taleh Ha­jiyev, was also a mu­si­cian, a tal­ented pi­anist and com­poser. He com­posed a num­ber of songs, which could be­come quite pop­u­lar and live on in the hearts of peo­ple.

De­spite her grief and health prob­lems, at the age of al­most 90 she was full of love for life and con­tin­ued to write beau­ti­ful songs with the en­thu­si­asm of a young creative per­son.

Mu­sic was a source of vi­tal en­ergy for her, it was her true love and true world. Shafiga Akhun­dova al­ways wrote only about what touched her heart and ex­pressed the high­est hu­man feel­ings. There­fore, her mu­sic re­mains the best for many artists to this day.

Her com­po­si­tions were per­formed by the out­stand­ing Azer­bai­jani singers of the time, who per­ceived her mu­sic as a gift and fell in love with them once and for all. Her works were also very fa­mous in for­eign coun­tries, such as Turkey, Cen­tral Asian states, and were lov­ingly per­formed abroad.

Shafiga Akhun­dova had a unique per­son­al­ity, she was a kind and straight­for­ward per­son, and her pure soul was open to ev­ery­one. She be­came a lovely com­poser of the Azer­bai­jani peo­ple with her beau­ti­ful mu­sic and rare per­son­al­ity and will al­ways hold a spe­cial place in the hearts of the Azer­bai­jani peo­ple.

Akhun­dova has been awarded by the govern­ment for her mer­its. In 1998, Akhun­dova was con­ferred the ti­tle of Peo­ple's Artist of Azer­bai­jan and in 2005 she re­ceived the Shohrat (Glory) Or­der.

May her soul rest in peace!

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