Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the 90th jubilee concert of the prominent conductor and composer Niyazi - December 8, 2002

Ladies and gentlemen!

Dear friends!

Solemnly celebrating Niyazi's 90th jubilee we express our love and respect to the Azerbaijani culture and music. Organization of the jubilees of our outstanding cultural workers, our masters of music, of our writers, poets, scientists and social workers on such a high level shows the attention and care of the Azerbaijan administration to the science, culture and literature of our people.

One may think that such solemn events are useless. And we have heard similar thoughts. But in connection with this I repeat again that such events enrich and inspire us even more, instill in us optimism.

Today, listening to the words said about Niyazi, listening to his music and mentioning his skill as a conductor there arise very deep emotions in me. Those feelings are connected with the love to our people, to our culture and music, which are the most valuable possessions of our nation. Culture is one of the signs which makes a nation be recognized in the world. We are happy that our people have very rich culture, music and art, which nourish our people spiritually and distinguish us among the peoples of the world, make us popular. Niyazi is one of the most outstanding persons who made the Azerbaijani people be recognized in the world.

Today we have heard very kind words with deep meaning about Niyazi. And all they are true. And I confirm it, as I'm one of those, who knew Niyazi best of all. I have got a lot of memoirs from my friendship with Niyazi. And all they are kind and joyful reminiscences.

Since 1950 I had had close and friendly relations with Niyazi. Our families were close, too. Our friendship continued long, and I always treated him with great love and respect, not just because he was my friend, but also because he was a unique person, a unique musician and conductor. Certainly, I took care of him.

Niyazi played an invaluable role in propagation the symphonic music in Azerbaijan, in the creation of symphonic musical compositions and their performance. Here Gara Garayev's words were mentioned that the success of his compositions was due to Niyazi. That's true, as I had very close relations with Gara Garayev, too. Gara Garayev is right. I'm very glad for his sincerity. Niyazi's invaluable role is demonstrated not only in Garayev's opera and symphonic compositions, but also in the success of all other Azerbaijani composers, too. The purpose of this evening is to make everyone remember about it. Let the present and future generations know about it. We shouldn't forget the words mentioned here.

The creation of the symphonic orchestra in Azerbaijan is connected with Uzeyir Hejbeyov. Those years Uzeyir Hejibeyov, Muslim Magomaev did much to develop the symphonic orchestra in Azerbaijan. First, they created patterns of the Azerbaijani music for the symphonic orchestra. Then they tried their best for performing the world music, the compositions of famous composers by the Azerbaijani symphonic orchestra. But I firmly declare: had it not been for Niyazi, the symphonic orchestra of Azerbaijan would have not reach this level. Other remarkable operas, compositions, symphonies composed by well-known composers have also gained success due to Niyazi. And not only musicians should be grateful to Niyazi, but also the whole Azerbaijani people.

From my point of view, Niyazi was a person who deserved only love. He was very humorous. Some say that he could be strict, too. Sometimes he listened to nobody, and he could be kindhearted. All was possible. It was his character. He lived and created with this character. He was the only Azerbaijani conductor who worked in the countries with highly developed musical art, with the most approved symphonic orchestras. In Leningrad he worked, too. The Leningrad Theatre of Opera and Ballet is one of the most famous theatres in the world. Also he worked in Prague, in London, in Paris and in Turkey.

I remember Niyazi's visits to Turkey in the1950s. Then, it was very difficult to leave for the foreign countries. The Soviet Union was behind "the Iron Curtain". Only separate people, in very rare cases could leave for the country. Probably, Niyazi is one of those who earlier of all our musicians could leave for Turkey, and other countries. However, Rashid Beybutov was also a sensation with his songs. But these are quite different genres.

Niyazi did the most difficult work in the sphere of music. Respected Janna Dozortseva spoke here about Niyazi's symphonic orchestra concerts of those years.

Once I came to the philharmonic hall, there was a symphonic concert, the hall was full. The concert was remarkable with ceaseless applause. After the concert I talked to him in his room. He told me that there were so many people because of my presence there. He meant that usually very few people attended the concerts of the symphonic orchestra. I asked why?! He answered that they couldn't yet convey to people this music on a required. Then, we made such a plan: once a month Niyazi gave a symphonic concert of high level in the philharmonic hall and all the senior officials of Azerbaijan, with their families would attend it. And we organized that.

Once he told me that they were performing symphonic musical compositions, but not all understood their deep meaning, and that's why they couldn't perceive such music. He suggested that the listeners should be given a lucid explanation to each composition before its performing. That was a good idea and I approved it. That's why he invited Janna Dozortseva every month! She is a remarkable musicologist. She perfectly presented the content of a composition. Then, at each concert I saw how people who filled the hall, and who came with me listened to these compositions with desire and soul.

Thus, we founded such a system in Moscow, too and in Moscow the the press called it "the University of listening to the symphonic music". Niyazi did it with such a love that I could see his satisfaction; he was inspired that he had done such a remarkable work.

Now I look at this concert hall and, of course, most of you are Niyazi's admirers and music lovers. But together with you here are the members of the Azerbaijani government. I can feel the spirit of the symphonic concerts of those years. Let's note that this evening, this concert devoted to Niyazi differs from previous jubilee concerts. And the first reason of it is that there is the symphonic orchestra conducted by Niyazi for many years, on the stage. And it has reached such a high level. The second reason is that Niyazi's compositions are played here, and also because here we exchanged memoirs about Niyazi, and because he died, but left to our people a remarkable heritage - symphonic music and the symphonic orchestra. The orchestra created by Uzeyir Hejibeyov, which due to Niyazi's work rose so high, which now has such a nice conductor as Rauf Abdullayev, who has substituted Niyazi.

I'm glad that so many kind words were spoken about Niyazi at this concert. But I remember those years when our composers and musicians didn't be friends with each other and treated each other as enemies. We shouldn't hide it. All this was, and all this is ours.

I remember in 1973, almost 30 years ago, similar relations, especially between the composers very worried me. And one Sunday I invited the group of famous composers to the suburban state villa, in Zagulba, at 11 o'clock in the morning. I said - "Come on! We shall have a talk, drink tea and spend the day together!" Now, I can see only Arif Melikov from that group. Unfortunately, time flies and people join to majority. From those people whom I met on that day only Arif Melikov is alive. The rest are dead.

We spent the day wonderfully there. Especially I tried to reconcile these three people: Gara Garayev, Fikret Emirov and Niyazi. They were friends, indeed. But they quarreled very often. And that damaged our common work. It seems to me that by the end of that day there was quite a different atmosphere. Afterwards our composers always remembered that day and always thanked me for I organized that day and brought them closer to each other. They worked together then.

We heard here now, that if not Niyazi, Garayev's compositions wouldn't reach such a high level. The same can be said about Fikret Emirov's compositions. All their compositions passed through the symphonic orchestra and Niyazi's hands, and reached the level which we become the witnesses of! Niyazi's role is great. But sometimes the personal relationships changed and that disturbed the progress.

Niyazi was very kind. Here we spoke about his house-museum. Hi died in 1984. Then I worked in Moscow. I cared about it after returning to Baku, in 1993. Generally, I consider the creating of house-museums to be a good tradition. For example, the house-museums by Uzeyir Hejibeyov, Samed Vurgun, Jalil Mamedkuli-zade, Jafar Jabbarli, Niyazi - each of them is becoming a big centre of culture.

For example, to gather somewhere else or to gather in the house where Niyazi lived - they are quite different things, different atmosphere. He had a small flat, but its doors were always open. If I don't mistake, Vasif Adigezalov and Polad Bulbuloglu said that they had grown up in that flat. His doors were really open. Everyone who came to his place was treated with food and drink. The late Mrs.Khadjar used to take care of Niyazi's guests the whole day long. Such a life lived Niyazi. Everyone whom he loved could come to his place, and they did so. He never kept far from people.

He used to tell funny stories, skillfully parody people living in various regions of Azerbaijan, who spoke in different accents. Sometimes seeing him, I asked him to tell how "Othello" was performed in the Sheki theatre. And he told it with such a skill that neither concert, nor theatre were needed then.

Mrs.Khadjar always was with Niyazi, wherever he went. I used to say to him, as a joke, that most of his awards should have been rewarded to Mrs.Khadjar, because without her he couldn't be able to demonstrate that wonderful work. She was a nice person. I loved her very much.

I repeat again, on one hand I grieve that he is not with us now, but on the other hand I'm proud of our nation, of our people, which have grown such persons. We are happy because in the 20th century our people grew so many great men of culture. They raised our culture and left it for us as heritage.

Today I bow my head to Niyazi's memoir. I believe that Niyazi will always live in our hearts, that his compositions will raise the future generations morally, spiritually, too, and our people will always be devoted too their culture and art.