KARA ABULFAZOVICH OGHLU KARAYEV  1918-1982 

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"Portrait of Kara Karaev"

Author Rinat Kuramshin

Was a prominent Soviet Azerbaijani composer. Karayev wrote nearly 110 musical pieces, including balletsoperassymphonic and chamber pieces, solos for piano, cantatas, songs, and marches.

At the age of 15, Due to his musical talents, Garayev was allowed to enroll simultaneously in two faculties at the Azerbaijan State Conservatoire in 1933. Among his teachers were Georgi SharoyevLeonid Rudolf, and the prominent Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibeyov. In 1937, Garayev joined the Union of Composers of Azerbaijan SSR.

In 1938, at the age of twenty, Garayev composed his first musical piece, a cantata "The Song of the Heart" to the poem by Rasul Rza. It was performed in Moscow's Bolshoi Theater in the presence of Joseph Stalin in the same year. Garayev conducted his cantata during the Decade of Azerbaijani Art festival in the Bolshoi Theater, an event also attended by Stalin. In the same year, Garayev moved to the Moscow State Conservatoire, where he became a student and a good friend of Dmitri Shostakovich.

In 1941 Garayev returned to Baku to teach at Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Society. In 1945, both he and Jovdat Hajiyev wrote the Motherland opera, for which they were awarded a prestigious Stalin Prize.

In 1948, at the age of 30, Garayev was again awarded this prize for his symphonic poem Leyli and Majnun, based on the same-titled famous work of Nizami Ganjavi. Upon the death of Uzeyir Hajibeyov in 1948, Garayev became the Chair of the Union of Composers of Azerbaijan SSR and the rector of the Azerbaijan State Conservatoire. In this latter position, Garayev retained Uzeyir Hajibeyov's traditional emphasis on Azerbaijani folk music in teaching, and also promoted contemporary genres, such as jazz in Azerbaijani music. In 1948 Garayev also became the delegate to the First National USSR Congress of Soviet Composers.

Gramophone record Suite "The Path of Thunder"

Kara Karaev

Premiere of Kara Karaev's ballet

"The Path of Thunder"

A scene from the play

"Leyli and Majnun"

The book "Kara Karaev" 1978

In 1952, under the direction of the choreographer P.A. Gusev, Garayev's Seven Beauties ballet was staged at the Azerbaijani Theater of Opera and Ballet. Based on Nizami Ganjavi's famous poem, Seven Beauties opened a new chapter in the history of classical music of Azerbaijan. Garayev's only other ballet, Path of Thunder staged in 1958, was dedicated to racial conflicts in South Africa. In the same year, Garayev also wrote the score for the documentary film A Story About the Oil Workers of the Caspian Sea, directed by Roman Karmen and set at the Oil Rocks.

During his teaching career at the Azerbaijan State Conservatoire, Garayev tutored a number of prominent Azerbaijani musicians and composers, including Galib MammadovArif MalikovKhayyam Mirzazade and Ismayil Hajibeyov among others. Garayev's son, Faraj (born 1943), also became his student and went on to compose single-act ballets such as Shadows of Qobustan (and Kaleidoscope, and later led the musical avant-garde movement in Azerbaijan..

A scene from the ballet

"Seven Beauties"

Score "Concerto for Violin and Orchestra"

Composers Djevdet Hajiyev,

Dmitry Shostakovich, Kara Karaev

Postage stamp of Azerbaijan dedicated to the 80th anniversary of Kara Karayev

During the Cold War in June 1961, Garayev and Tikhon Khrennikov were the only two Soviet composers who attended the first International Los Angeles Music Festival held at UCLA. The festival programmed works by fifteen composers from around the world, including Arnold Schoenberg and Igor Stravinsky. On June 11, Franz Waxman conducted the Festival Symphony Orchestra with a suite from Garayev's Path of Thunder. In 1962 Garayev became a member of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and visited the United States, Ethiopia, and Lebanon. In 1972 he visited Poland.

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.