Muslum Magomayev’s 80th Anniversary

Muslum Magomayev’s 80th Anniversary


In the midst of the Second World War, a boy, who was named Muslim, was born in Baku on August 17, 1942. The child's name was given in honor of his grandfather, who was a famous composer and conductor and one of the founders of Azerbaijani classical music.

Who knows, maybe this coincidence of circumstances played a decisive role in the life of Muslim Magomayev, who in his own way became a successor to his grandfather. He also became a famous composer, and he was also loved by millions of Soviet people for his beautiful baritone and magnificent performance of songs and opera arias. There was probably no one in the Soviet Union who didn't know him. On August 17, we celebrate his 80th birthday, but, unfortunately, without him. The singer passed away on October 25, 2008. He was 66 years old.

In a few days, on August 21, on Channel One [a Russian state-controlled television channel], there will be premiere the documentary ‘Muslim Magomayev. The Best Voice of the Earth,’ which introduces a frank interview with his widow Tamara Sinyavskaya, about whom Muslim said in his memoirs that they were happy as only birds can be happy in free flight. Larisa Dolina, Yevgeny Diatlov, Vladimir Vinokur, Alexander Voroshilo and Araz Agalarov, a friend of Muslim Magomayev, also starred in the film.

The concert, dedicated to this anniversary will be held on the stage of Crocus City Hall on October 29, 2022. The big program dedicated to the creativity of the USSR People's Artist, People's Artist of the Azerbaijan SSR Muslim Magomayev will feature famous opera and pop singers who will perform songs and arias from his repertoire ‘Beauty Queen’, ‘The Best City on Earth’, ‘Give Me Back the Music’, ‘Melody’, ‘Moonlight Serenade’, ‘Wedding’, ‘Blue Forever’ and others.

The Crocus City Hall concert hall, which opened its doors in October 2009, was built at the expense of Araz Alagarov. This is how he wanted to perpetuate the memory of his friend. There is a museum of Muslim Magomayev in the foyer of the second floor. There one can see the famous singer's personal belongings, pictures from his family album and other exhibits. In his later years, when Muslim Magomayev stopped performing, he became interested in painting. Some of his paintings are also on display in the museum. Numerous prizes that the singer won in various countries, participating in music festivals and contests, are also housed here.

Meanwhile, the life of the famous singer was not so easy. At the age of three, Muslim lost his father, who was fighting at the front and just a few days before the long-awaited victory. Uncle Jamal's family, where he was brought up, had a great influence on the boy. It so happened that from his grandfather he received as a gift records of famous singers Enrico Caruso, Mattia Battistini and Titta Ruffo. Muslim often listened to these records and as a boy tried to sing, imitating the great singers, though it was not so easy because since childhood he had weak lungs.

At school at the Baku Conservatory, he got straight A's in music, but he didn't like science. Muslim hid his passion for a while, but then the school unmasked him and it became known that he sings well. When Muslim performed for the first time at the House of Culture of Baku Sailors, he was 15 years old. He also went there secretly, and no one in the family knew then that his first public performance had taken place. The adults thought that one should not perform at such an age, so as not to lose his voice but the young man himself took such a responsible decision.

In 1961, Muslim Magomayev made his debut in the Song and Dance Ensemble of the Transcaucasian Military District. The next year he won the VIII World Festival of Youth and Students in Helsinki. Muslim Magomayev performed the song ‘Buchenwald Knoll.’ In March 1963, he became famous as a singer after his participation in the final concert of the Festival of Azerbaijani Art in the Kremlin Palace of Congresses. In 1964-1965, Muslim Magomayev undertook an internship at La Scala.

In the 1960s, he went on tour in the major cities of the Soviet Union. In 1966 and 1969, he had successful performances at the Olympia Theater in Paris. After Magomayev's performance, the theater director even offered him a one-year contract, promising to make him an international singer, but the USSR Ministry of Culture did not give such permission, explaining its refusal by the fact that the singer's performances were needed in the Soviet Union. The singer also fell into disgrace for only receiving a large fee for his 2-hour performance in Rostov-on-Don to help the Rostov Philharmonic acquire decent costumes for his tour in Moscow. There was even a criminal case brought by the Department Against Misappropriation of Socialist Property (OBKhSS.) The singer was allowed to perform only in Azerbaijan. Only after Andropov's call to Soviet Minister of Culture Furtseva was the disgrace lifted.

The records with songs by Muslim Magomayev were released in millions of copies and enjoyed great success. Two years in a row, in 1969 and 1970, he was awarded the Golden Disc at the MIDEM. In 1974, Muslim Magomayev represented the USSR at the famous international festival Tokyo Music Festival in Japan.

The 1960s and 1970s were a triumph of his fame as a singer. Thousands of spectators gathered at stadiums for Muslim Magomayev's performances, and he went on tour across the USSR very often. He also went on foreign tours to France, Bulgaria, East Germany, Poland, Finland, Iran, Canada and other countries. The singer's repertoire was incredibly large. He performed more than 600 works, including songs, romances and opera arias. Magomayev wrote music for musicals and plays, and was the author of more than 20 songs. He also hosted a series of television programs about the work of international singers and artists, and he even wrote a book about the American singer Mario Lanza.

The last years of his life Muslim Magomayev spent in Moscow. He stopped performing, referring to the fact that everything has its time. He painted and corresponded with his fans on his website.

In 1997, one of the asteroids was named after Muslim Magomayev. Astronomers know it under the code 1974 SP. So, the name of the singer is known not only on Earth but also in space.

Muslim Magomayev was buried in Baku following all Muslim canons in the Alley of Honorable Burial next to his grandfather, the famous Azerbaijani composer Muslim Magometovich Magomayev. Thousands of admirers of his talent came to the farewell ceremony.

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