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Azerbaijan

"Music is a moral law. It gives inspiration to the entire world, wings to the soul and raises the thoughts of man up to the heavens. Music is the basis of order. It is the embodiment of eternal beauty and glory."

These words by the great Greek philosopher Plato would find resonance in the soul of any Azerbaijani, be he philosopher or just ordinary worker. If one attempts to define the most characteristic feature of Azerbaijanis, it would doubtless be their love of music. Harmonic music lives in the very nature of this land, in its soil, trees and rocks. Classic Azerbaijani poetry is filled with lines about music and the supreme spiritual enjoyment that it gives.

For example, the beauty of Azerbaijani songs was glorified by the great poet of this land, Nizami Ganjavi:

Dear singer, take your saz in your arms,
Play sweet music for us,
Don't limit your range,
Our melodies are broad and rich.

Azerbaijani melodies have been adopted and sung by people from all of the neighboring countries: Georgians, Armenians, Turks, Dagestanis, Uzbeks and Turkmens. This music has been imprinted in the musical memory of these peoples and become accepted as their common heritage. A number of written materials and sources from the 19th century testify to the dominant role of Azerbaijani musical culture in the Caucasus and Central Asia. One can still find dozens of Azerbaijani tunes widespread in this area, both national folk tunes and those that were written by specific Azerbaijani composers.

Azerbaijanis' love for music is closely connected with their unique talent in this art form. At the beginning of the 20th century, composer Uzeyir Hajibeyov, the genius of Azerbaijani music, recognized for writing the first opera of the Caucasus and the Muslim East and acknowledged as the greatest figure in the musical world of this region, wrote: "Without the slightest exaggeration, it is possible to say that among the Caucasian peoples, the most talented in music are the Azerbaijani Turks." (1923).

The rich musical heritage created since ancient times is unchallengeable proof of a genetic talent that is inherent in every generation of the Azerbaijani nation. Our national musical instruments, designed for the emotional color, rhythm, tempo and artistic features of Azerbaijani folk music, have passed a long path of historic development and carried many characteristic features of Azerbaijani traditional music up until the present. Now they are part of Azerbaijan's musical culture, linking its past and present. Traditional music and musical instruments express the major features of Azerbaijani national musical thinking and the nature of Azerbaijani creativity.

At the same time, we must regretfully admit that a great deal of our national musical heritage has been lost. This especially relates to the rich collection of instruments used by Azerbaijanis during various periods of our cultural history.

Text by: Mejnun KERIMOV
Science Editor: Professor Farhad BADALBEYLI, National Artist of Azerbaijan

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