Author: Zohra FARAJOVA Baku
His birthday, June 20, 1921, has always been a real celebration for his parents. Seven long years of aspiration have been finally rewarded. Later they had two more girls and a boy but Jahangir had a special status for his parents. He has been caressed more than others, kind of a spoiled child. However, the parents were quite serious about his education.
His father Shirgast was an educated man. He graduated from a military school in Rostov. After returning to Baku, he held various positions. He was a slim and a handsome man. Jahangir Jahangirov physically looked like his father except was shorter than him. His mother Saidkhanim was a beautiful and a very devout woman being a descendant of Seyyids. Her sisters were mullahs. She has been well in reciting the Qur’an but at the same time, she had a great interest in music and well played on the accordion. She passed away young, leaving four children.
Young brothers and sisters of Jahangir could not yet understand the bitterness of this separation. His younger sister was not even two years old. And the hardship of loss has soon rested on the the shoulders of Jahangir. Since his mother was a Muslim who has never photographed, her image remained just in his mind.
For Shirgast, it has been difficult to raise young children on his own. He married a woman named Gulsurat. Although she did not have children, she loved them wholeheartedly. Sensing her love, the children have soon felt confidence in her and become closer to her. But the fate was adamant about playing her cruel trick, again. It was 1937. Across the whole country, the people were suffering from repressions. Shirgast, who at that time has been working as the director of the sovkhoz in Balakhani, also became one of the victims of repressions. He was charged with “the deficiencies committed at work” and arrested. With the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, he was transferred from the prison to a penal battalion. His family has not heard of him since then.
But Gyulsuryat has not left the children alone. Instead, she has become a more caring mother for them. However, she had to work to support her family. And 15-year-old Jahangir was ready to shoulder this responsibility being the only grown man in the family. He had to work hard. Yet the concerns about the sustenance of the family could not refrain him from his studies, love for the theater and music. After graduating from a secondary school in Balakhany available up to grade seven, he came to Baku and enrolled at a theater school. As a student, he has already been enjoying his work at Uzeyir Hajibeyli’s choir...
For Jahangir, music was also a reminiscence of his mother, a part of her world. Her sad melodies once played on accordion, mixed with bitterness of separation and longing for mother, became engraved forever in his memory. He wished to compose similar works and shared his thoughts with Uzeyir bey. After listening to one of his compositions, the great composer advised him to enroll at the Azerbaijani music school. His advice was an assessment of the prospective composer’s talents. Following the advice of Uzeyir bey, Jahangir Jahangirov has dropped out of the theatrical school and joined the faculty of musical theory of the music school.
He was one of the admirers of Uzeyir Hajibeyli’s works, and his first compositions were similar to the works of the composer. It did not take much for Jahangirov to identify his future path being enrolled at Conservatory’s department of the Azerbaijani folk music in 1940, where he learned the basics of folk music from Uzeyir bey.
In 1942, when Jahangirov was the chief of ensemble “Sazchy ghizlar”, he met 17-year-old beauty named Tahira whose charming gray eyes captured the heart of the young composer.
Uzeyir bey played a major role in their marriage. But the war prevented them from having a wedding party. They even could not organize a small company. They lived in a one-room communal apartment of Jahangirov located in the city center. In this small, cramped apartment with no amenities, half of which was occupied by composer's piano, they have spent the best years of their life.
After the marriage, Jahangir Jahangirov did not allow his wife to work. The then director of the Philharmonic Hall Sabit Rahman was against the dismissal of the singer with such a pleasing voice. No matter what he did to persuade Jahangir, he could not stop his wife from picking up her documents from the Hall. In 1945, while still a student, he was sent with a group of writers and artists to Iran. He left his daughter Saida and her mother Tahira at home and has worked in Iran for about seven months. There he composed the national anthem of the Democratic Republic of South Azerbaijan, which was approved by the head of the country Pishevari. On his return, he graduated from the Conservatory and began to work at the chorus of the radio committee.
After returning from Iran, Jahangirov composed “Arazin o tayinda” (“On the other side of the Araz”) based on lyrics of the poet Ali Tudeh. He was awarded the Stalin Prize - one of the most prestigious awards of the time – when he was 27 years old. The family has been living in the same small communal apartment were his daughter Saida and later his son Parviz were born. Later Jahangir Jahangirov was allocated a two-room apartment at the famous House of Artists on Bakikhanov street where his youngest daughter Aida was born.
Relations with Niyazi
Jahangir Jahangirov had many friends. He was very friendly with everyone attaching no importance to squabbles so popular in the world of artists. He was never interested in fierce struggle for various positions at the Union of Composers and not fond of business meetings or artistic councils. Never did he grovel to or beg anyone. The then chairman of the Union of Composers Tofig Guliyev always supported him. Jahangir Jahangirov had a great respect for him, as well as Fikret Amirov and Gara Garayev. He was also a close friend with Chingiz Hajibeyov.
July 1959. The preparations for the Decade of the Azerbaijani culture and art in Moscow were on the way. Ballerina Gamar Almaszadeh had to perform a dance based on Jahangirov’s “Mahsul” and conducted by Chingiz Hajibeyov. During rehearsals, Niyazi was in the music hall. One might have noticed a certain cooling of the relationship between both composers. The point was that shortly before the rehearsal, Niyazi has conducted one of the works of Uzeyir Hajibeyli. During the discussions after the performance, Jahangir Jahangirov noticed that the works of Uzeyir Hajibeyli were so perfect that they did not need any change. Niyazi had not liked his remark and been offended since. But he was so pleased with “Mahsul” that he approached Jahangirov, hugged and congratulated him. He even told Chingiz Hajibeyov that he would conduct “Mahsul” himself. After that, they made peace.
Jahangirov had a straightforward character not hesitating to reproach someone in the face if he felt to do so. According to his daughter Aida, this side of his character has often made him feel uncomfortable. “But he would not even think about giving up his habit. Sometimes I could see him unhappy about his work and the situation in the world of art. He did not like talking about this at home. He also did not part with a feeling of being a spoiled child – reminiscence of his childhood. But at the same time he was a caring father. Our grandmother Gulsurat, who was the main support of my father and his siblings since childhood, has also lived with us. The father loved this elderly and bright woman as his own mother. And he made us love her in the same way as he did.
He was a great joker but just as serious and demanding. He was fond of practical and talented people. However, he has never turned a blind eye to someone’s weaknesses. When his songs were performed by low-profile singers or he had not enjoyed the performance, he would immediately express his dissatisfaction. But never would he blame the singers.
Father would have the last word
Once one of his songs aired on television was presented as a folk song. He was called and asked if he knew about it. The composer replied: “I am very happy. After all, not every song is presented as a folk song”. From the memories of his daughter Aida: “He had been used to compose constantly. Everyone knew he was a workaholic. For instance, he had finished “Khayyam” in just a month. As a rule of thumb, he had used to work in the morning. Sometimes he had been working nonstop for 7-8 hours without leaving the room and had hated being distracted at such moments, especially when he was called by phone. Never had dad composed at night. And yet, many of those who know him as a composer, do not even know that Jahangir Jahangirov had also been trying himself in poetry and painting. He had used to pave the way for the talented people. However, he had not allowed his wife to be a singer, though she had a nice voice. Mom was very sorry about quitting her job and breaking up with art in general. Occasionally, we could hear her singing at home. The beauty of her voice had been enchanting us. Sometimes she used to blame my father for making her stop singing. But never had she argued with him. She was kind of a woman with a yielding character. After all, there was no point in unnecessary talks. My father would always have the last word anyway. My mother was an intelligent woman. She would never lose her temper even if she heard all sorts of rumours about his husband. My father was a creative person. And such people has always a bit of a temper. Probably because they are not like what we think they are. Creative people can be sincere and nervous at the same time. Mom knew that very well. What she also knew was that the gray-eyed beauty was still living in the heart of my father and in his songs. Dad had dedicated many of his works to her. Especially, “Alagoz” brilliantly performed by Rashid Behbudov was the most famous among them”.
The song “Ana” (Mother), which was the composer’s dedication to his mother, had become an all-too-familiar theme. It seemed he had put into this work all his innermost thoughts coupled with bits of sadness and melancholy. It was specifically written to be performed by Rashid Behbudov and has been loved by everyone since. Meanwhile, the cantata “Fuzuli”, which brought Jahangirov a great fame, was written with Shovket Alekberova in mind.
One day he received an invitation from Cairo. According to contract, he had to live and work there for four years. But he had returned after 6-7 months: “Creative people cannot be separated from their homeland”, said Jahangirov. Even in Cairo, he had managed to compose a song about Baku and had played it for his close friend, the poet Zeynal Jabbarzade who had come to visit him. Jabbarzade had been so impressed, that he immediately wrote the lyrics. The famous singer Shovket Alakbarova also had a chance to visit the composer in Cairo. Jahangir Jahangirov had accompanied her on the piano, and she sang that song which is now known under the title of “Azerbaijan”. From the memories of Aida-khanim: “We had good neighbors. We were meeting each week. As always, at the end of each gathering, we sang “Fuzuli” all together. My father would become part of the choir while Shovket Alekberova would sang the solo”.
The time has come
He deeply loved the sea and Absheron since he has spent his childhood ashore the Caspian. He had been enjoying time spent at his cottage in Mardakan. He swam well. When he became ill, the doctors advised him to reduce time spent under the sun. But he was not listening, as usual, waking up early in the morning and swimming in the sea.
Having lost his mother early in his life, and then his 21-year-old brother, the composer began to feel the same bitterness of separation while in his declining years. His wife died of a heart attack. It was extremely difficult for him to bear the loss but he could live with this pain for another five years.
Several times a year he was traveling to Moscow for treatment. It was a period of intensified popular movement. Jahangir Jahangirov could not stand the tense and worsening political situation, he could not bear when innocent people were becoming victims of these events.
His health was deteriorating gradually. He never was complaining about it although he knew that his illness was incurable. Only when he turned 70 years old, he said: “It's over, the time has come”.
His daughter Aida remembers the last days of her father: “My father continued to work and create through all his life. He had a lot more ideas that he was not able to transfer to note sheets. He had been working on new works even when he was ill. He could not work for three months only. On his way to the hospital, he grabbed the note sheets again but he could not write anymore. That work still remains incomplete. Although much of the opera “Fizuli” was complete, my father had had his own ideas on orchestration of the opera. Doctors did not tell us how long would he still live. It was March 25, 1992 when I realized that I lost my father and immediately I called Tofig Guliyev. “I am coming”, he said. He was always faithful to us. Seven months after the death of my father, my elder brother Parviz suddenly died. He was 44 years old. He passed away from a heart attack, same as my mother...”
Jahangir Jahangirov continues to live in his works. His operas “Azad”, “The fate of the khanende”, cantatas “Fizuli”, “Nasimi”, “Ashyg Ali”, oratorio “Sabir”, poem “Arazin o tayinda” (On the other side of the Araz) and many other melodies including “Dostlug mahnisi” (Song of friendship), soundtracks to films “Deli Kur” (Kura the Tameless) and “Yenilmez batalyon” (Invincible battalion), songs “Ana” (Mother), “Ayli gejeler” (Lunar nights), “Baku”, “Dan ulduzu bir de men” (The morning star and I), “Ay Giz” (O, lady), “Alagez” (A girl with gray eyes) immortalized the composer's name.