Author: Zohra FARAJOVA
"Whatever I write bears a spirit of Baku. I do not know any other city more beautiful than Baku," said the prominent composer Tofig Guliyev. He was born on November 7, 1917 in Baku. He grew up here. His father, Alakbar Guliyev was an engineer-economist, and mother Yakhshi-khanim Mahmudova was one of the first Azerbaijani doctors. Tofig did not follow in his parents footsteps but chose a completely different path following his heart.
In 1929, he entered the Azerbaijan State Conservatory. A composer, founder of Azerbaijani romance genre Asaf Zeynalli had a great influence on Tofig, who taught him initial theory of music. At the age of 14, Tofig composed his first song as advised by his teacher. Later on, Tofig Guliyev would remember those days and his beloved mentor: "On the ground floor, there was a music school. The conservatory was on the second floor. Our teacher was Asaf Zaynalli, a tireless man of hot nature. Then he would go up to the second floor to study. He was both a teacher and a student. I would not be a composer, If not my love and respect for Asaf-muallim. I wanted to become a pianist or conductor. Asaf-muallim intuitively saw a composer in me. My first song, which I composed thanks to the wish and suggestion of my beloved teacher in 1931 on Sabir’s poem About a schoolboy, set my destiny." That is how a new path opened before the young Tofig; a path that made him an author of numerous songs charming heart and sticking to your mind forever. This path led him to the heights of glory...
Everything was yet to come. In the Azerbaijan State Conservatoire, which Tofig Guliyev entered in 1934, he studied at two faculties - in the piano class of Professor I. S. Iceberg and in the conductor class of Professor S. G. Strasser. He also took lessons of polyphony, harmony, and musical form from R. M. Rudolph, and the basic lessons of folk music and the mysteries of mugham from the great Uzeyir Hajibeyov.
Son of the composer, famous film director Eldar Guliyev remembers: "Recalling the past days, my father would often say: I studied very well in high school. We were taught well, we remembered everything we heard. Then I studied at a music school. It was then that I got to know Uzeyir bey, Gara (Garayev), Niyazi, Fikret, Jovdet (Hajibeyov) and we became friends..." In the 1930s, Tofig Guliyev entered the path of creativity with these composers.
In 1934-1935, he took an active part in collecting and transferring folk music to note scores and adapting them to music instruments in the Research Music Room created under the guidance of famous Bulbul. In 1935, he performed musical notation of a number of mugams performed by Mirza Mansur. Together with the composer Z. Bagirov, he prepared these mughams for pianoforte.
When Tofig Guliyev was appointed as conductor of the Azerbaijan Drama Theater, he was only 18 years old. A year later, on the initiative of Uzeyir Hajibeyov, a group of talented young people was sent to study conducting at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatoire. One of them was Tofig Guliyev. His performance at the entrance examination so delighted Professor H. Neuhaus that he personally gave Tofig lessons in piano for a while.
Tofig Guliyev worked with enthusiasm, love of life and creative fervor, he studied various areas of musical art. Then he began to show great interest in jazz. In 1937-1939, he was a pianist of the All-Union Jazz Orchestra led by A. N. Tsfasman.
A young but experienced musician returned to Baku with new dreams. Together with Maestro Niyazi, he created the Azerbaijan State Variety Orchestra. Tofig Guliyev composed music for dozens of performances thanks to his close ties with a number of theaters since 1939.
September 7, 1941 is the date when Azerbaijan State Variety Orchestra laid the foundation of national jazz at its first public concert at the Baku Philharmonic Hall. Tofig Guliyev’s name entered the history of Azerbaijani music as the founder of variety and jazz music. Later, while maintaining creative connections with the recognized jazz master Eddie Rosner, the composer arranged a number of songs for his orchestra, as well as musical fantasies based on the soundtrack of the Indian film Awara, for a popular Russian romance Black Eyes and the motives of children's songs.
In 1941, Tofig Guliyev and his orchestra joined the 402nd Azerbaijani division. In the midst of heavy battles, they gave concerts on front lines in Krasnodar, Mozdok, Kerch. Along with Azerbaijani folk songs, the repertoire also included Tofig Guliyev's works on patriotic themes.
In 1943, the ensemble Red Army was divided in two. Red Fleet was led by Tofig Guliyev. The war, its endless burdens, could not stop him from creativity. In 1941, the young composer composed music for the film Səbuhi. The first experience was successful. Tofig Guliyev appealed to this genre during all further creative work. He became an author of soundtracks for various films including Bəxtiyar, Onu bağışlamaq olarmı?, Dərviş Parisi partladır, Ürək nəğməsi, Görüş, Ögey ana, Qızmar günəş altında, Telefonçu qız, Belə bir ada da var, etc.
Filmed by his close friend, writer and director Hasan Seyidbeyli in 1974, the feature film Nəsimi won the award of the 7th All-Union Film Festival. And the composer of this film Tofig Guliyev was awarded the State Prize.
After the war, he performed for two years as a pianist and author of unique songs with Rashid Behbudov in front of millions of spectators in many cities of the former USSR.
To complete his conservatory education, Tofig Guliyev went to Moscow in 1948, where he took lessons from Professor Ginsburg, and Professor Golubev. After graduating from the conservatoire in 1951, he studied under the guidance of the outstanding conductor Professor A. Gauk, and defended his scientific thesis. During his tenure in Moscow, he performed with the orchestra of the Moscow State Philharmonic Society, conducted the performances of Glazunov, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Gara Garayev.
Returning to Azerbaijan, he continued his creative activity with great enthusiasm. In 1954-1958 he led the orchestra class in the Azerbaijan State Conservatoire, was engaged in pedagogical activity in the classes on opera training and instrumentology.
Success accompanied Tofig Guliyev in all areas of musical art. He was known as a conductor, pianist, and author of works of various genres - musical comedies, cantatas, instrumental plays, and film soundtracks. But most of all his lyrical songs glorified the composer, brought him the widest fame.
Tofig Guliyev created his own style. His songs were performed by Rashid Behbudov, Bulbul, Muslim Magomayev, Rauf Atakishiyev, Lutfiyar Imanov, Mirza Babayev, Shovket Alakbarova and many other favorite singers of those years. He used to say: "I am a very happy person. My songs were performed by brilliant singers."
"His music contains a breath of Azerbaijani land, the warmth of our hot sun," said Mirza Babayev. People's artist Vasif Adigozalov said: "He was the most beautiful pianist among composers. He reminded me of a constantly trained performer. He had a fascinating technique of piano performance, and this fascination was saturated with his music. Therefore, all songs of Tofig Guliyev penetrated the heart of people, even those who did not like him."
Another reason for such cordiality, the enchantment of his lyrical songs, was the author's sublime poetic feelings. Tofig Guliyev composed music only for those poems that he liked. Songs Bakı, Azərbaycana gəlsin, Biz mehriban ailəyik, Xəzərin neftçiləri, Zibeydə, Əziz dost, Gözəl Vətənim and others call listeners to a full-blooded life, love.
Since 1958, Tofig Guliyev worked as art director of the Muslim Magomayev Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Society for four years, and became its director in 1961. For many years, he headed the Union of Composers of Azerbaijan, was its chairman until the end of his days.
The merits of Tofig Guliyev were highly appreciated both in the Soviet period and after Azerbaijan proclaimed its independence. In 1954, he was awarded the title of Honored Artist, and in 1964 - People's Artist. In different years, he was awarded the State Prize of the Republic, the Order of the Red Banner of Labor, the Badge of Honor. In 1998, he was awarded the Order of Istiglal.
Tofig Guliyev died on October 4, 2000. But he continues to live in his immortal works, which store the love and warmth of his heart. New generations of performers are growing on Tofig Guliyev's songs. His incomparable works call the humanity for peace and good-neighborliness, unity and love.