The outstanding Azerbaijani and Russian opera and pop singer, composer, People's Artist of the USSR Muslim Magomayev would have marked his 75th birthday today.
He achieved iconic status in Russia and the post-Soviet countries, including his native Azerbaijan, for his vocal talent and charisma.
The singer was born on August 17, 1942 in Baku, Azerbaijan. His father was a theatre artist who died during the war. His mother was dramatic actress, his grandfather – Muslim Magomayev – was a famous Azerbaijani composer, whose name was given to the Azerbaijan Philharmonic Hall.
In 1961 Magomayev made his debut in the professional song and dance ensemble of the Russian Baku Military District. As a young man, he had the honor of singing the first solo concert at the prestigious Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow, where only a few people were "permitted" and where a crowd of fans, besieging the entrance, literally destroyed the massive doors of the lobby. It was then that Muslim allowed himself to have an unscheduled third act and to perform popular songs in English and Italian to his own accompaniment on the grand piano.
In 1962.Magomayev became the winner of the World Festival of Youth and Students in Helsinki for a performance of the song "Buchenwald tocsin." All-Union fame came after his performance at the Kremlin Palace in the final concert of the festival of Azerbaijani art in the same year.
His repertoire includes more than 600 songs, and his discography includes 45 gramophone records and 15 CDs. In addition, Magomayev starred in several films, many television programs, he has written songs and music for a variety of films.
Magomayev was awarded several honors including People's Artist of Azerbaijan, People's Artists of the USSR (1973), Order of Honour (Russian Federation), Order of the Red Banner of Labour, Order of Friendship of Peoples, Istiglal Order, and Order of "Heart of Darko." He became the art director of the Azerbaijan State Bandstand-Symphonic Orchestra in 1975 and toured in France, Bulgaria, Finland, and Canada.
In 1998, Magomayev officially stopped his musical career and gave only a few performances together with his wife. He died in Moscow on October 25, 2008 aged 66. The funeral ceremony was attended by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
The head of the Department of Culture of Moscow, Alexander Kibovsky, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that the most important indicator of Muslim Magomayev's importance for musical culture is that people around the world keep memories of him. "His works are given the highest marks in Moscow - his monument is located in the very center of the city. There are always flowers near Muslimu Magomayev's monument in his memory - that is, Muscovites honor his memory every day, not just at anniversaries," he said.
"Even today the creative legacy of this wonderful, amazing artist sounds in the hearts of a huge number of citizens. Muslim Magomayev had all the awards of those existed in our country, and now we see that he really is a people's artist, as the people honor him, love him, remember him, he hears his music in their hearts," Alexander Kibovsky stressed.
The director of the Gorky Film Studios, Sergey Zernov, agree with Kibovsky. "Muslim Magomayev was a unique person, one of the key figures in our opera and concert art. He is remembered, there is a concert hall in Moscow named after Muslim Magomayev. And he, a great musician, is still given a lot of attention in Russia," he pointed out.
People's Artist of Russia, the deputy of the Moscow City Duma, Yevgeny Gerasimov, noted that he was one of the initiators of the installation of the monument to Muslim Magomayev in Moscow. "He was a brilliant singer, an amazing man from a magnificent family. Muslim Magomayev was a wonderful, talented musician," Yevgeny Gerasimov stressed.