Polad Bulbuloglu in bronze

By Vestnik Kavkaza
Polad Bulbuloglu in bronze

The President of the Russian Academy of Arts, Zurab Tsereteli, presented his new work – a statue of the ambassador of Azerbaijan to Russia, the well-known Azerbaijani composer and singer Polad Bulbuloglu. The sculpture is the next work from Tsereteli's series titled 'My Contemporaries', in which he created sculptures of many figures of Russian culture, science and art, including Iosif Kobzon, Andrei Voznesensky, Mstislav Rostropovich and Vladimir Vysotsky. Earlier, the sculptor depicted figures of science, art and culture of the first half of the 20th century – such as Feodor Chaliapin, Vsevolod Meyerhold, Alexander Blok, Sergey Yesenin, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Anna Akhmatova, Nikolai Gumilev, Marina Tsvetaeva, Osip Mandelstam and Boris Pasternak. But the impact of the 'Silver Age' period extends through the whole 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century.

Zurab Tsereteli answered Vestnik Kavkaza’s questions at the unveiling of the statue of Bulbuloglu.

- Zurab Konstantinovich, the title of your series is 'Contemporaries'. How do you define this concept?

- Contemporaries... we are born with them at one time, walk through life together, know each other.

- How do you choose a character?

- By nature. There are people who ask me to draw them, but I can't do it because they do not have the right nature. A person can be very beautiful, but not have features that are useful for an artist. I have been drawing since childhood, when my grandmother gave me crayons. Then I took lessons from an artist. I remember drawing an athlete. He was very beautiful and I thought that if I draw him, I will be as beautiful as this athlete. I became an artist, but I didn't become like him. If you draw, you will not necessarily become an artist, but it improves the skills of your mind, eyes and hands. So, if you have children or grandchildren, give them crayons.

- Which feature of Polad Bulbuloglu attracted your attention?

- I've known him for a long time, I know his songs. When he sings, he has a very different movement, a different sense of rhythm. I try to catch everything and show with art language to give it volume and plastiсity to convey character. I tried to create an eternal living piece.

- Who inspires you among other Azerbaijanis?

- Women.

The vice-president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Leyla Aliyeva, told Vestnik Kavkaza at the unveiling ceremony of the sculpture of Polad Bulbuloglu at the Russian Academy of Arts: "Today's event was great, I remember an especially bright moment was when Polad Bulbuloglu sang. When he sings, I want to live. He is so energetic that everyone receives part of this energy. He sang three songs, because God loves a troika. But I would like him to sing even five or ten songs. I am very glad that such a beautiful sculpture, showing his figure and face, but most importantly, his soul and his heart, was unveiled today."

The chairman of the Russian Union of Artists, chairman of the Public Chamber's commission on culture, art, creative, cultural and historical heritage, Andrei Kovalchuk, praised Tsereteli's work in an interview with Vestnik Kavkaza: "It is a remarkable work by Zurab Konstantinovich. He found the course to implement the ideas of your creative impulse and art coming from the very heart. We felt it before, we feel it now and we will feel it in the future. Therefore, I sincerely congratulate you and Zurab Konstantinovich on this wonderful work of art."

"For us, Azerbaijanis, this is a momentous event. Thank you very much, I bow to Zurab Konstantinovich for some sort of national holiday for Azerbaijanis living in Russia. Today's event shows how many friends Polad Bulbuloglu has, how we love him, cherish and appreciate him," the rector of the Moscow State University of Humanities and Economics, Vagif Bayramov, told Vestnik Kavkaza.

"I am proud that I am a citizen of my native country – Russia – at the same time I am doubly proud that I am an Azerbaijani. The relations between the Azerbaijani people and the Russian people are developing in such a positive way. I think in the future they will bring the peoples even closer, inspired by the same Polad Bulbuloglu, who is a son of both the Soviet people and the Russian people, because we were all brought up by the Soviet and Russian cultures and we are proud of it. We have many common traditions and we cherish them," Bayramov said.

"I've known Polad Bulbuloglu for many years, since he was a master of variety arts and represented his republic and the big Soviet country on the variety stage. The sculpture conveys the performer's state in front of an audience very accurately. We worked on the same stage, in particular, at the Philharmonic headed by Polad Bulbuloglu. Then he became the minister of culture, but he still remains an artist. Whatever position or office he may hold, he will always be an artist. This person has always represented his republic and his people on the variety stage and now he represents it on the political scene. I'm very proud of Polad Bulbuloglu, I appreciate his attitude to me personally and to my work. I am very pleased that I'm here, at such a significant event, when the great artist Tsereteli embodied the image of our artist in this sculpture," honored Artist of Azerbaijan Sarhan Sarhan told Vestnik Kavkaza.

"I like the monument very much. It's so informal, the posture is wonderful, you can see the soul in it, and it is clear that the person pictured in bronze is singing at this very moment, putting his heart and soul into it. The way his hand is pressed to his heart! It looks like it's alive. And such a wonderful evening. Let there be more evenings like this. But there cannot be many, because there are so few unique, talented, wonderful people like Polad Bulbuloglu," the poetess Larisa Rubalskaya told Vestnik Kavkaza.

She was supported by honored artist of Azerbaijan, principal performer of the Bolshoi Theatre, Elchin Azizov: "It's impossible not to like everything connected with this unique man, Polad Bulbuloglu. This is my personal opinion, because I have been personally acquainted with since I was aged 16 and he's a dear person for me. And not only for me, for everyone, because everything connected with Polad Bulbuloglu is always a big festivity and always positive. Look how subtly and accurately the sculpture conveys the artist's mood with his hand on his heart. He is an Artist with a capital A and a Man with a capital M, who really gives people everything that comes from his big heart. The fact that this beautiful temple of art will have a sculpture of Polad Bulbuloglu is a great honor, a great pride for me as an Azerbaijani.

After all, it is not just a name, it's a dynasty. Today, Murtuza [Polad's son] brilliantly directed an orchestra. Polad Bulbuloglu is a worthy son of his father Bulbul. His name is written in golden letters on the pages of Azerbaijani and international musical history. And today Murtuza proved that the family name will continue to add new names."

The president of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan, doctor of mineralogical sciences, Professor Akif Alizadeh Agamehti oglu, cited verses of the poet Bakhtiyar Vahabzadeh in an interview with Vestnik Kavkaza:

"Being children we are in a hurry to grow up,

And being grown-ups want to return to our childhood.

One desire? Six or ten?

No end to them, cannot be weighed!

Ages of waiting for this and for that...

The dreary waiting is the hardest part,

From birth to death we are in its power,

From birth to death we all seek happiness,

We wait for our happiness and tear ourselves apart

From birth to death having it.

We are happy that today we are celebrating Polad Bulbuloglu's glorious benefit. Zurab Konstantinovich gave us a great celebration. Today the whole of Azerbaijan enjoys the success of our ambassador, our favorite composer and singer Polad Bulbuloglu."

Poet Andrei Dementyev told Vestnik Kavkaza: I'm probably one of the few people here who has known Polad for many years, since he was a very young man. We've been friends for so many years that sometimes I wonder how it's possible that these years have flown by so fast. He is a great citizen of Azerbaijan, a great friend of Russia. This man did a lot for both Azerbaijan and the Soviet Union. He gave himself to culture as the Azerbaijani Culture Minister and as an ambassador. People of different nationalities were at his concerts – Russians, Azerbaijanis, Uzbeks and Jews, everyone. Polad Bulbuloglu is a great symbol of the Soviet Union, a great symbol of Azerbaijan, a great symbol of Russia. I remember my thoughts listening to his father Bulbul singing: "God grant that Polad's life will be like his father's life and he will be loved by millions of people." And so it happened. He is loved by millions. He combines talent, kindness, respect for people and a spiritual, inner beauty. I adore him. I wrote him a poem once:

My friend Polad is talented and handsome

We are both from the former Soviet Union

Once upon a time he combined 

his brilliant motive with my muse

We go through life together. I am happy that he wrote music to my poems, I'm happy that I know him well and we're friends. He invited me to Baku, where the 200th anniversary of the birth of the great Russian poet Lermontov was celebrated. Moscow still has to learn how to do it. These are different states, autonomous and independent, but even ministers read Lermontov both in the Russian and Azerbaijani languages at this event.

Several times we were in Azerbaijan at the invitation of President Ilham Aliyev.

I know a lot of people in Azerbaijan. A great poet, a friend of mine Nabi Khazri, studied with me on the same course at the Literary Institute. I walked in Baku and saw that now there are streets named after people I knew. This is one of the most cultured nations. They understand everything in Russian, they perfectly feel poetry, no matter Azerbaijani or Russian. I love Baku, I love Azerbaijan. It is very dear to me".

Speaking about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Dementyev noted: "It can be resolved only by peaceful means, only through talks and common sense. Today's world is so restless, so cruel, so full of anger and hatred, that I wrote these lines:

Different ways lead us to God:

A temple, a mosque or synagogue.

We have to follow this way to God through peace, through agreement, through understanding. Common sense is a quality of intelligent, educated, kind and wise people."

The artist Tahir Salahov also praised the work of his friend and colleague Tsereteli: "He artistically creates monuments to his friends, with great love and warmth. These monuments and sculptures will live forever and speak about Polad and Zurab and all of us. This gift made Polad and all the guests very happy. This is a sculpture of a living person, a friend, a cultural figure. Polad has wonderful music and a remarkable voice. The whole of the USSR knew him as a singer, as a composer. He also has a wonderful family. His father Bulbul was a luminary of the Azerbaijani performing arts. He studied in Italy and reached such heights that were recognized even in Stalin's time. Polad was born in such a family, he is the son of his father and he also glorified him through his own art. We have been friends since 1963. He was 16 years old when he came to me and said. "Tair Teymurovich, my record is coming out, maybe you will make a sketch with me?" I said that I would do it with pleasure. And I made two drawings. Now he has one picture and I have the other one. Since then we have been friends. Recently Zurab Konstantinovich brought a photo of the work in plaster, he had not yet had time to cast it. I liked the sculpture. There are sculptures of Dementiev, Kobzon. These are Zurab Tsereteli's skills, it is a great gift to anyone who loves the art of Polad Bulbuloglu."

The hero of the triumph, Polad Bulbuloglu, told Vestnik Kavkaza: "Of course, this is a big event in my life, because Zurab Konstantinovich surprised me. I did not pose for him, he did not even mention it. One of our common friends said that Zurab Konstantinovich is preparing an anniversary surprise for me, but I thought this would be some kind of picture or a small sculpture, one of his works. But when he brought me a picture of the sculpture, I was surprised. It is a great thing for every creative person when his work, his life path is appreciated. Tsereteli created a gallery of creative peoples' portraits. It's awkward to name them, because there are so many outstanding, great musicians. It is very honoring and exciting to be one of them. Of course, I am proud that I am a representative of Azerbaijan. Now, one of these great artists is an Azerbaijani."