Ismayil Hajiyev: "Mehriban Aliyeva provides huge support to Azerbaijani music"
The press conference dedicated to the opening of the Silk Way International Music Festival was held in Baku today. On the sidelines of this event, Honored Art Worker of Azerbaijan, composer and conductor, popularizer of Azerbaijani symphonic music and mugham in Canada, chairman of the Silk Way International Committee of Niagara Music and President of the Heydar Aliyev Center in Canada, Ismayil Hajiyev, told Vestnik Kavkaza about modern Azerbaijan musical culture and its promotion in the international arena.
- First of all, please tell us about Azerbaijani music at the Niagara Music festival.
- I am the chairman of the Silk Road Committee of the international Niagara Music Festival and the main conductor of the Silk Road Orchestra, we have been participating in this event every year for more than 10 years. It is a very interesting festival that takes place in Canada every summer and lasts for 40 days. Before, there was, basically, classical and modern music, but we contributed such new trend as music of the East to it. During this time, eastern music has become very popular at the Niagara Festival. Now our best performers and mughmatists come there. We do arrangements for the classical orchestra and chamber orchestra together with our famous musicians, winners of mugham competitions in both the musical trio format and a classical composition. Azerbaijan provides us material assistance for these perfomances, the Ministry of Culture and the Heydar Aliyev Foundation are very helpful to us. We also actively cooperate and maintain friendly relations with the Turkish diaspora in Canada, participate in their festivals, and, of course, hold important events related to Azerbaijan.
- Where did the idea of Silk Way festival come from in Azerbaijan?
- Once, when the current head of the Composers' Union of Azerbaijan Firangiz Alizade lived in Germany, and I lived in Canada already, she called me, said she was going to Baku and invited me to Azerbaijan. When I came here, I came up with an idea of a music festival with which I went to Sheki, met with the head of the executive branch, he prepared a very good invitation letter in English and Azerbaijani, as required by law, provided me with gifts for all participants, Including kelaghayi and the famous Sheki baklava. The musicians were very touched by such gifts.
- How do you assess the role of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, in particular, the First Vice-President of Azerbaijan, President of the Foundation, Mehriban Aliyeva, in the development of modern Azerbaijani art?
- Words are not enough to describe what Mehriban-khanum did for Azerbaijani music. We are all very grateful for her work. Thanks to her support for Niagara Music, mugham won not only popularity, but also love. Eight years ago we even declared her birthday on August 26 the international mugham day in Niagara as a token of gratitude and appreciation to Mehriban-khanum. Then we also nominated Mehriban-khanum for the title of woman of the 20th century. I have registered the World Academy of Azerbaijani Mugham named after Mehriban Aliyeva at the state level and I intend to present it in prestigious places in India, Germany, Canada and other countries. We are grateful to her for her attention and the importance given to classical music originated from mugham. When organising the Silk Road in Sheki, I was primarily supported by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, and we continue our creative cooperation till now. A small town in Paris was rented for almost two weeks under the aegis of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, and all of our art, including cuisine, folk and classical music was represented there. The best works of our great writers - Nasimi, Fizuli, Nizami - are published in French in highest quality. The French were simply amazed by all this, but you need a very large cultural horizon to surprise the French, a refined nation. So, heaven bless Mehriban-khanum in her very responsible work. She has a great mission to the Azerbaijani people, and I believe in her strength, in her mighty talent. I think the development of the Azerbaijani culture is the main thing now. As Heydar Aliyev once said, we have a lot of wealth, but culture is the most important wealth which can help us to conquer the world.
- Who of the musicians influenced you the most?
- I am a student, first of all, of the Azerbaijan Conservatory of the times of composer Kara Karaev. In Saint Petersburg, I studied at the same time with Valery Gergiev from the legendary professor Ilya Musin, the teacher of Yuri Temirkanov, Vasily Sinaisky and many other famous conductors. After my graduation, I was lucky to work as an assistant to the great conductor Evgeny Aleksandrovich Mravinsky. He opened a 'green light' for Azerbaijani music, thanks to him I was able to get permission for two parts of Azerbaijani music in honor of Uzeyir Hajibeyov's 100th anniversary (usually I had one classical part at the concert and one was Azerbaijani to collect the audience) . The most interesting thing was that it was not only me who recorded Azerbaijani music, but also the main conductor of the Leningrad Philharmonic Alexander Dmitriev, who recorded the third symphony of my father Ahmed Javdet Hajiyev, dedicated to Dmitry Shostakovich. The conductor of the Bolshoi Theater Fuat Mansurov conducted the fourth symphony of my father for recording.
- Are you in contact with other Ilya Musin's students - Valery Gergiev and Yuri Temirkanov?
- Of course, and this is one of the reasons why I came here. We with Valery Gergiev are organizing a large musical project now. This is why I go to Moscow and St. Petersburg, attend his concerts, constantly communicate with him about it. We have formed the so-called eastern three together with his friend, the well-known pianist Alexander Toradze. Valery Gergiev is very excited about our idea, because he loves the Caucasus and has always wanted to hold a festival of Caucasian music. Such famous conductors as Zubin Meta, Yuri Temirkanov, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, with whom I have met and got their permission, will take part in our project. Temirkanov arrived in Baku, we closely communicated both here and in St. Petersburg, my alma mater. In fact, it will be a wider scope of our Silk Road, we will talk with Firangiz-khanum about whether this festival will enter the context of our big project. By the way, Gergiev said that he will start his speech, dedicated to the 100th anniversary of my father, with his famous symphony 'Man, Earth, Space'.
- Will there be any other activities within the framework of Ahmed Javdet Hajiyev's 100th anniversary?
- There will be a lot of them in many different countries. They are already underway. Recently there was a concert in Carnegie Hall, and it was the first time when classical Azerbaijan music was heard in this hall. We published his works in England, held contests in France and Switzerland. The winner of the contest played at the UN residence, where a whole event was held with the awarding of laureates, the participation of ambassadors and the representative of Azerbaijan to the UN Yashar Aliyev. And it's just a beginning. The most important events will be related to Russia and Valery Gergiev, the concerts with my father's music in Moscow and St. Petersburg are the most important for me and Azerbaijan as a whole. The opera 'Veten', which my father wrote together with Kara Karaev when they were students of the Moscow Conservatory, and for which they were awarded the Stalin Prize, will be performed, their portraits hung next to the portraits of Prokofiev and Shostakovich. And now we are going to revive this brilliant, undeservedly forgotten opera, I'm working on it. Of course, it will be staged on the stage of the Bolshoi Theater.