100th jubilee of Azerbaijani and Soviet composer Kara Karaev

By Vestnik Kavkaza
100th jubilee of Azerbaijani and Soviet composer Kara Karaev

On February 5, a prominent representative of Azerbaijani culture, an outstanding composer, scientist, teacher and public figure, People's Artist of the USSR, Hero of Socialist Labor, laureate of State Prizes of the USSR and Azerbaijan, Academician Kara Karaev would've turned 100. The concert at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory was dedicated to the anniversary.

Composer Faradj Karayev, the son of maestro, Honored Artist of Azerbaijan, professor of the Moscow Conservatory and Baku Music Academy, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, said that it was a chamber concert: "Chamber concerts are not the tradition of 100th anniversaries, but we put together the program - two sets of piano compositions - Prelude, Op. 28, No. 4 and the Seven Beauties ballet suite arranged for the piano. As well as the vocal block - three nocturnes to a text by Langston Hughes, which also have not been performed for at least 40 years. A violin sonata, a sonata for violin and piano were also included. We tried to combine all the genres to excite our listeners."

Speaking about the influence of Azerbaijani culture on the music of the composer Faraj Karaev said: "This is the land where he was born, the air he breathed, the sun under which he grew, it's mother's milk. Maybe, there were no recognizable intonations of Azerbaijani music in his later work, but Karaev is still an Azerbaijani composer. This is not surprising or unusual. Although he has such works as the Vietnamese Suite, Albanian Rhapsody, The Path of Thunder - a ballet about the life of the South African republic. He still was true to himself, the son of his land. He was born in Baku, he always felt himself the son of Absheron. When he came from Moscow to Baku, he said: "I can breathe better here." All this was reflected in his music".

The Seven Beauties ballet (1952) was performed at a concert in an arrangement by Vladimir Genin. The pianist Olga Domnina, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, said: "I fell in love with Kara Karaev's Seven Beauties ballet and asked our friend, composer Vladimir Genin to make a piano solo arrangement. Its world premiere took place in Baku, and then I performed it in the Shostakovich Center in Paris. The Russian premiere took place in Voronezh, and now it was presented in Moscow. I hope we will expand and deepen such findings. You see, I have already learned Prelude, Op. 28, No. 4, I'm going to learn No. 3, No. 2 and No. 1. Karaev is one of Shostakovich's greatest students, along with, for example, Georgy Sviridov. Kara Karaev's music has a combination of European school and oriental motifs, oriental spiciness, eastern softness. I wanted such a new vision of classical music based on another folklore, not European one. I find it in Kara Karaev's work, because this is a unique symbiosis, the crossroads of schools, compositions of the East and the West."

The violinist who performed the sonata for violin and piano (1960) at the concert, Elena Revich told Vestnik Kavkaza: "It was very interesting to play it, because, unfortunately, now it is rarely performed composition. It is not in violinists' concert repertoire, despite the fact that it is a masterpiece of Shostakovich's student. One can here the Russian school, both Stravinsky and Shostakovich, in this sonata, but Kara Karaev's individuality remains unchallenged. This music is individual, diverse and theatrical - it is rich in imagery."

Azerbaijani singer and musician Emil Kadyrov, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, said: "Kara Karayev's creativity is a huge heritage of Azerbaijani culture. When Azerbaijani culture is represented by such a concert, wonderful performers at the Moscow Conservatory, it is certainly a huge work and a huge in fluencein educatonal terms, because there are so many students here, so many Muscovites who listen to this music. I think that such concerts make a big contribution to the development our relations."

The Doctor of Arts, Rauf Farkhadov, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, said that Kara Karaev almost single-handedly created an Azerbaijani composer school, although he had like-minded people, colleagues: "This is a man who in many ways changed the idea of what a national culture, a national tradition is. The man who for a long time developed a very successful synthesis of European culture with Azerbaijani mugham, melody, intonation, harmony. In the mid-1960s, he made a radical change in his work, moving to the development of the newest compositional technologies, which at that time were considered to be the most bourgeois and formalistic. This transition of Karaev to new tracks largely determined the development of the Azerbaijani composer school, which has started to develop either in line with his Third Symphony, which declared the combination of the national element with latest modern technologies, or in line with his Violin Concerto, which declared the idea of ​​combining the deep national, indirectly national with latest best compositional technologies."

"Bernard Shaw said that the most interested thing about a person who lived to be 100 years old is that he made it. I think if Kara Karayev lived to be 100 years old, he would be interesting to us not only as a person who lived to that age, but as a creative composer, thinker, a man who all his life tried to refute traditions that he created himself, broke up traditions and created something new. In the mid-1960s, being a recognized classic of Soviet music, an authority, a Lenin Prize Winner, which back then was the greatest art award, he switched to such radical, such formalistic, conditionally speaking, rails, supported the search of composers - Schnittke, Denisov, Gubaidullin - with his authority, having shown loyalty to his path," Rauf Farhadov said.

According to him, Kara Karaev has paved completely new opportunities unknown to the national Azerbaijani tradition: "Today we have such a concert where different, multi-genre, multi-stylistic works of Karaev are performed. These works, which were the laboratory of Karayev's spirit, Karayev's thinking, prepared the transition that he carried out in the mid 1960. Kara Karayev paved two development paths of Azerbaijani music, being followed by the modern Azerbaijani composer school. Some composers actively develop the national element - intonation, mugam melos, mugham melodic, ashug rhythms, ashug harmonies in conjunction with the latest technologies. Another line of Azerbaijani music is the development of deep principles, improvisation, melodiousness, variance with modern technologies. But there is no such "primitive" connection with folklore, mugham and other national elements here. These two Karaev lines are still relevant for Azerbaijan, they are still dominant, and probably will predetermine the development of the national culture for decades to come."