Author: Elia ENVERLY
She is an organ player (organist) recognized for her bright performing skills, style, and intuitive feel for musical form. She accurately conveys the idea of composition and is completely at the mercy of music. This was the impression of the Honored Art Worker of Azerbaijan, Professor Tahira Yagubova about Natavan Guliyeva. Natavan is a laureate of the International Organ Competition held at the Vatican Theological Academy in Rome. In recent years, the organist has performed in many countries. She continues her participation in various contests, festivals, and master classes.
Natavan, why did you choose the organ?
I fell in love with this instrument since I had first heard it on record. I had no musicians in my family. I am very grateful to my mother who took my sister and me to the Bulbul Music School. After graduation, I entered the conservatoire for the piano class. At the same time, I took lessons of organ and harpsichord. The sound of organ has always attracted me. Perhaps it is because of Bach, whom I would call the first on the list of my favorite composers. Bach’s works for organ are the core of his creative life.
Tell us a little about this instrument. How can such a fragile woman like you get this instrument sound so powerful? After all, organ requires large physical efforts as well...
Technical skills is part of the performance on organ. It is necessary to have an idea of the peculiarities of various styles, period a particular composition was written in, historical instruments, composer's affiliation with the national school of music he or she represents. Organs are designed considering the features of the premises they will be constructed in. Therefore, no two organs are similar. The organ has many levers, buttons, and switches. Therefore, organists have assistants on stage. But most importantly, the grandeur and colorful hues of the organ sound can touch the conscience of any soul.
Who were your teachers?
I was very lucky. My teachers were Nelia Yeghizarova, Elmira Safarova, Vladimir Anshelevich. Each of them has left a mark on my life. But Professor Tahira Yagubova is my main teacher. She is an outstanding organist, musicologist, erudite, who has devoted her life to the development of organ art in Azerbaijan. She opened the world of organ music to me and advised me to go for postgraduate studies in organ class.
What about your personal life?
After my postgraduate education, I created a family. Initially, I have been able to combine my family business and performances. But after the birth of the second child, I have decided to devote myself entirely to the family. I taught piano but refused to be an organist. Years passed, the children grew up, and I had more free time. I resumed my studies, purchased a mobile electronic organ, which made it possible to do the rough work at home. I am thankful to my husband, who always supports me in everything.
Which of your performances are particularly noteworthy?
In 2016, I took part in a forum held in the Swiss city of Basel and dedicated to Italian and Spanish organ music of the Baroque period. That was an invaluable experience of playing old instruments. In recent years, I have had many performances in the Baltic countries, Russia, Italy, Great Britain, the Netherlands... I was fortunate enough to take part in master classes of such brilliant organists as Leo Van Doeselaar, Guy Beauvais, Ludger Lohmann, Wolfgang Zerer. I have felt particularly responsible at the organ festival in Russia, which included the representatives of all the former Soviet republics. According to the program of the festival, organists from Armenia and Azerbaijan had to perform in a single concert. Representatives of both the Armenian and Azerbaijani diasporas were present in the hall. I was finishing the concert. Especially remarkable was the reaction of the audience to the works of G. Garayev. No matter where the Azerbaijani music sounds, it always generates great interest and admiration. The concert was successful, and I left it proud of myself.
Once at a concert of the Uzeyir Hajibeyov Festival, I heard a wonderful piece performed on organ. It was in the German church in Baku. Both the melody and performance impressed the whole audience. As it later turned out, it was a piece from L’Ascension by Olivier Messiaen performed by yourself...
Olivier Messiaen is the brightest representative of the French school of the 20th century. Originally, this work was written for the orchestra in 1932. A year later, the composer adapted it for a solo organ. It is based on religious themes.
What are your perspective plans?
In 2018, we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the greatest contemporary composer Gara Garaev. I am working on a program that includes selected compositions of the composer arranged for the organ. Garayev is the first of the Azerbaijani composers who has used the organ music in films (İnsan lövbər salır). Nevertheless, he has not composed original works for organ. Tahira Yagubova has been working for many years to adapt his works for organ. Thanks to her efforts, the organists can now perform Garayev’s works on organ. As the organ represents almost the entire orchestral palette, Garayev's music is very organic and re-sounds organically. I want to continue a series of thematic evenings of organ music. So far, we have used the compositions of Azerbaijani and German composers, the next event will be dedicated to French music.
How do you manage your concerts?
I conduct the concert myself. Before each work, I tell the audience about the author, epoch and composition itself. I combine solo organ music with violins, wind instruments, and vocals. All this contributes to a better perception of music.
Do you feel excited before your performances?
Of course, I do and I guess this is due to a sense of responsibility.
What can really impress you?
Talented and skillful persons always impress me.
What else do you like doing besides music?
I study foreign languages. I speak English and French and started learning German. Language proficiency is an opportunity to penetrate into the culture of different people deeper. I also like traveling with my family, discovering new countries.
Are you happy?
When my relatives and friends are healthy and happy, I am also happy. If I can afford doing my favorite thing at the same time, like playing music on stage, then this happiness doubles.