Author: Salatyn MIRZAYEVA
Elvin Hoxha Ganiyev is the Honoured Artist of Azerbaijan, solo violinist and virtuoso, who has performed with famous orchestras and leading conductors of the world. His repertoire includes solos for violin, concertos for violin and orchestra, sonatas for violin and piano.
Back in 2003, a 6-year-old boy with his violin was standing on the stage in front of the audience, who watched his every movement with interest. Next to him was his grandfather Sarvar Ganiyev, the People's Artist of Azerbaijan, professor at the Bilkent University of Turkey. These were the first steps towards the big stage. Stormy applause, love and admiration of the audience. Three years later, Elvin Ganiyev with his grandfather and the Bilkent Orchestra gave a Vivaldi concert in Turkey.
Elvin was born into a family of musicians. He began experimenting with an impromptu conductor's baton - a pencil in his hands. This was the format of rehearsals with parents, grandfather and uncle at home. At the age of 8, Elvin took the first place in the Classical Heritage competition held in Moscow, hence demonstrating his high technique and mastery of performance. Sympathy and recognition of the audience have accompanied him throughout his career. Competitions, festivals, concerts around the world, including the USA, Switzerland, Russia, France, Spain, Germany, China, Great Britain and other countries, are an opportunity to touch the music of other performers and tell them about your own.
As the Best Young Musician of 2020, according to the Istanbul Music Festival, Elvin Ganiyev has made his own path into the classical world of music. This path will undoubtedly bring him international recognition and fame.
"You have two last names..."
"I’ve been asked about it often. Yet the answer is very simple. The last-name of my father is Hoja, and my mother’s is Ganiyeva (smiles). As a tribute to my beloved grandfather, an prominent violinist, People's Artist of Azerbaijan Sarvar Ganiyev, I’ve decided to combine two last-names and introduce myself as Elvin Hoxha Ganiyev."
"German conductor Sergiu Celibidache believed that music performed in absentia is not music. However, during the pandemic, many of your performances and even participation in international music competitions took place online. Is this format acceptable to you?"
"I think that without music there is no life at all. It helps us to overcome the pandemic period too. After all, if a musician, a creative person does not engage in music, he begins losing sensations, losing his grip. This is a very bad experience. Since there are no concerts currently and everything is closed, we have a great opportunity to study online with our professors, continue our studies, work on something new and, of course, share our performance with the public online."
"You have qualified for the second round of the Jascha Heifetz International Violin Competition with the majority of votes from the audience. How would you explain such a public acknowledgement?"
"I played my first concert when I was 6 years old. Since then, I really love the stage, the audience, the applause. The competition for me is, first of all, a concert, not an exam. When I play at concerts, I am always sincere in my feelings and perform from the bottom of my heart for the people who came to listen. Taking this opportunity, I want to thank everyone who supported me in this competition."
"You are going to attend a new competition – George Enescu Festival. What will you perform?"
"By the way, the George Enescu Competition is a prestigious, large-scale and difficult competition. So preparation for the final and semi-final is very serious. There were many applications for the competition, but only 80 people made it to the first round. 17 of us remained in the second round. And only 8 participants, including me, made it to the semifinals, which will be held together with the final stage in May 2021. Each competition has a special program prepared by the organizers. At this competition, it is planned to perform chamber music in the semifinals, while the final stage will include performances with orchestra. Professor Krzysztof Wegrzyn helps me to prepare for the competition."
"You won a gold medal at the second international competition in Berlin. How did they find your victory in Turkey? How would you assess the extent of appraisal of your work in Turkey?"
"I won the gold medal in Berlin, representing Azerbaijan and Turkey. Of course, both Azerbaijan and Turkey were very happy about my victory. Since I was born in Ankara and graduated from the music school at the Bilkent University in Ankara, my success in Turkey is accepted with great joy. Last year I received the award of the Istanbul Music Festival in the Best Young Musician 2020 nomination."
"Although you live in Turkey, you closely cooperate with Azerbaijani musicians and conductors, including Fuad Ibrahimov and Rauf Abdullayev. What Azerbaijani music do you like to perform most of all?"
"For the last six years I have been living in Europe permanently. Four years to get my bachelor's degree in Switzerland, followed by two years in Germany for my master’s degree. Now I am in my second year, which will have to be extended until next year due to the pandemic. In the future, there are plans to get the second master's degree as a soloist. I hope that later I will be able to complete my doctoral studies. I need to learn for now. I met with Fuad Ibrahimov in Germany, when he was still studying in Cologne. I was taking lessons from my professor Zakhar Bron. I was then only nine years old. I have known Maestro Rauf Abdullaev since childhood, as my grandfather often performed with him. And I had many concerts with maestro Rauf Abdullayev in Baku, Turkey, Moscow and abroad. You know, it doesn't matter where the musician lives. I myself do not yet know where I will be in the future. It all depends on my work contracts. Anna Netrebko lives in Vienna and New York, sings all over the world, but she is still from Russia. Zubin Mehta lives in Italy, worked in the USA and Israel, but everyone knows that he is originally from India. Wherever they all live, they still remain the citizens of their respective countries and always collaborate with the musicians of their countries with great pleasure. It is always been my pleasure to give concerts in Azerbaijan. I really love the music of Azerbaijani composers. In my repertoire, I have the works of Gara Garaev, Arif Melikov, Firangiz Alizade, Fikret Amirov, Tofig Guliyev, Agshin Alizade, Rauf Hajiyev and many others. And I hope that I will expand my repertoire and play our music with pleasure on various stages of the world."
"Many famous musicians urge to follow the canons of classical music, warning not to go beyond the academic framework. They believe any attempts to arrange classical music indicate amateurism. Are there clear boundaries in music for you? Or, music as an art is freedom of expression?"
"Nowadays, many musicians improvise. Yet I’d admit I belong to the category of canonical musicians. Classics means sustainability, stability. How can one play Mozart or Beethoven by intuition? At the same time, a good performer can be different with his or her beautiful sound, accents, nuances, and techniques. It is impossible to perform any piece in the same manner. That’s where the level of performance, musical intuition and comprehension matter. Everything should fit the limits of composer’s imagination, as he or she wanted intended the piece to sound. Meanwhile, there is music of contemporary composers, where they offer the performers the due freedom of self-expression."
"You are a student of the Soviet and German violinist, Honoured Artist of the RSFSR Zakhar Bron, with whom you later shared the stage. What is your impressions from performing on the same stage with your teacher?"
"I am one of the last students of the legendary violinist, People's Artist of Russia, Professor Zakhar Bron. He is a legend and a unique teacher who had taught to such violinists as Maxim Vengerov, Vadim Repin, Daniel Hopp, David Garrid, and many others. I met Zakhar Bron at the festival in Kazakhstan when I was eight years old. Since then, I was visiting Switzerland one week every month to take lessons from Mr. Bron. Playing with him on the same stage is a huge responsibility and pleasure. Being his student is already a huge gift of fate. I understand the responsibly of being his student and really enjoy this. His students believe that it is easier to play in front of a huge audience than in front of him alone (laughs). Therefore, after the lesson with Mr. Bron, the concerts seemed much easier for us (laughs). After all, he pays attention to each performer’s sound, notes, and skilfully hones each stroke. My grandfather and Bron had similar schools. Grandfather was a student of Dmitry Tsyganov, and Bron was a student of David Oistrakh. Tsyganov and Oistrakh were friends, and they had one quartet, where the first violin was Oistrakh, the second was Tsyganov. They were both heads of two string departments at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatoire. So I was very lucky with my teachers (smiles)."
"How did you take lessons from your grandfather, conductor Sarvar Ganiyev? Did he budge while teaching his beloved grandson?"
"My grandfather was my first teacher, my idol as a violinist and as a person! With his love for the Azerbaijan, discipline, respect for his colleagues, his kindness, he will forever remain in the memory of many people. Of course, for me he will always be a role model in everything. I started my education with him when I was five years old. My sister Jahan and my cousin Jeyla are also violinists and also studied with him. And I can say that he was the same with all his students regardless of their relation to him, be they his grandchildren or children."
"When you performed together with Sarvar Ganiyev, it seemed that you get strong emotional support from your grandfather. Who else did you feel the same confidence with when you performed together?"
"Any musician always shares the stage with someone else. It doesn’t matter if you’re a pianist, conductor or singer. Of course, we are all very different. Everyone may have different views on this or that work, differently interpret them, have individual experiences from school, perceive the reality differently due to the age. You may play with your peer or with a big star who is older and many times more experienced than you. My grandfather was graduated from an excellent musical school in Moscow and had the best teachers he would have wished to have: Dmitry Tsyganov, David Oistrakh; he performed with Shostakovich, Rostropovich, Ashkenazi, Rozhdestvensky and many other legendary musicians... (thoughtful). Our two concerts together will forever remain in my memory... my first concert with an orchestra and with my grandfather and, a few years later, my grandfather's last concert. This time he also shared the stage with me. There is a special mysticism in this! It seems that he conveyed to me his love for the stage, music, violin, so that I continue to play and work on myself, develop as a musician, as a violinist..."
"Your grandfather Sarvar Ganiev is from Shusha. What memories did your grandfather share with you about this beautiful city, about Garabagh?"
"My grandfather is from Garabagh, from Shusha. He was from the Javanshir clan. His mother Jahan-khanym is the daughter of a well-known patron of arts in Shusha, Jamil Behbudov, who helped many Shusha residents to get an education. My grandfather always told me about Shusha, about our relatives and his friends. He always dreamed of the day when he could go there again. He used to tell me about the Jydyr Düzü, Dashalty, magic air, stunning nature, Isabulaghy, about samovar tea with raspberry jam. I have dreamed of visiting Shusha since my childhood."
"Your childhood dream already came true..."
"Indeed, Shusha has returned to us, the war ended with our great victory. Finally, I can see my grandfather's Shusha. I definitely plan to perform there with a concert dedicated to our victory, the heroes of this war who died defending our Motherland, our valiant army headed by Mr. President, Supreme Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev and all of Azerbaijan."