TOFIG GULIYEV (b 1917 )
Tofig Guliyev showed musical talent at an early age, but started to study music only after he had turned twelve, which was considered quite late by the standards of Soviet education. His progress, however, was fast, and from the very early stages of his studies his predilection for vocal music was evident. In 1934 he enrolled into the Azerbaijan State Conservatoire to study two disciplines at the same time: conducting and composition. Shortly before finishing his studies, he became interested in collecting and recording traditional Azerbaijani folk-songs, dances, and mugams. Guliyev continued his studies in the Moscow State Conservatoire, where he discovered an interest in popular music and became involved with jazz by playing piano in a band at the “National” hotel. He founded the first State Pop Orchestra in 1939, and co-founded the first jazz orchestra in Baku in 1941. He was active as a conductor and composer, working in the Azerbaijan State Drama Theatre, and writing a number of symphonic and chamber compositions, music for theatre and film, and songs. His music is a fusion of Western traditions, Azerbaijani folk-music, and American jazz. Guliyev was the First Secretary of the Azerbaijan Composers’ Union between 1969 and 1979, and was elected Chairman of the board in 1990, holding the post until his death.
© Anastasia Belina