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Karabakh's music assemblies


The people of Azerbaijan have an ancient and rich musical heritage. Initial information about our  
ancient music is reflected in the rock paintings of Gobustan (XVII-III BC) and Gemigaya (III-I millennium BC). In addition, in "Kitabi Dede Gorgud" and "Koroglu" legends, as well as in works of Nizami, Fuzuli, Abulqadir Maragai and Mir Mohsin Navvab the information about rich music art is provided.
Since the late XIX century, a number of cities of Azerbaijan music assemblies, societies, associations have been organized and it was a great impetus to the development of music. In the 80s of the XIX century "Musicians Assembly "was organized by M.M. Navvab and Haji Hosni, where the art of mugham was discussed. Mashadi Jamil Amirov, I.Abdullayev, S.Shushinskiy, Sadigjan and other famous representatives of the mugham art were participants of the meeting.

As it was noted, one of the factors played an important role in the development of the art of singing in the second half of the XIX century was a literary music assemblies. After the death of famous musician Kharrat Gulu oen named Blind (Kor) Khalifa had opened a music school in Shusha. He taught students to sing mugham play on the tar and kamancha. School of the Blind Khalifa had trained many musicians. Although after the death of Blind Khalifa the school was closed but in that period, a number of circles and meetings of musicians, interesting conversation on the art of music were arranged. In Shusha "Navvab’s assembly", in Shamakhy" Circle of Mahmud aga” in Baku "Mashadi Malik Mansurov’s saloon" turned into a real music school. Well-known musicians and singers mastering in-depth knowledge of the subtleties of Eastern music took care on proper singing of singers and their skill of art. At music assemblies the signing of "Shur", "Rast", "Mahur", "Chahargah", "Bayati-Isfahan" mughams lasted  two, sometimes three hours.
Interesting is that singers learning to sing all mughams at assemblies correctly and complete destgah tried to learn any mugam more perfect, to become qualified in it. Haji Husi sung well "Zamin-khara" and "Shushtar", Mashadi Isi "Mahur",  Bulbuljan “Hasari mukhalif”, Mirza Mahammadhasan "Mansuriyya",  Qasim Abdullayev "Zabul" , Malibayli Hamid “Rast” , Islam Abdullaev "Yetim segah",  Alesger from Sheki "Shur", Seyed Mirbabayev "Simayi-Shams", Jabbar Qaryaghdi "Heyrat",  Kechachi oglu Mohammed "Bayati-Qajar" compared to other  mughams.
Music assemblies had purified the national spirit of folk music, at the same time the music language from foreign trends, resisted against the danger of assimilation by protecting the mugam’s authenticity. These assemblies differed from weddings, parties. Here, poetry, music and art, aesthetic problems were discussed in detail. In these music assemblies "Shusha assembly" gained a special fame. Because there were more musicians, dancers in Shusha than in other places. It Is not coincidence that folk poet S.Vurgun wrote: "Shusha was not named in vain as the cradle of music and poetry, almost all the popular sound and music performers of Azerbaijan were born in Shusha ..."
One of the reasons that  Shusha was a well-know music center, of course, was its pure air, cool springs, beautiful forests, unique sightseeing, in a word, charming nature. At the end of the XIX century life, being known as a health centre, the life in Shusha was active at the end of XIX century: Every year in summer, poets, playwrights, composers, artists and musicians from the Caucasus, the Middle East and Central Asia, including parts of Russia and Western Europe, where Azerbaijani students studied in universities, gathered here to show the theatre performances and participate in the music assemblies. Each singer performed  in Shusha  with own group of singers in  "Summer club", at fascinating sites, at beautiful, cool springs, before   the audience  and narrated the quaint stories on Eastern music. From every house, every yard, every tree shadow the sounds of tar, bow, ney, accordion is sounded.

Shusha was famous as Caucasus Conservatoire, as well as a vocal school in the whole Near and Middle East. Likewise "Italian vocal school" occupies the position in European musical history, "Shusha vocal school" occupies the same position in the history of Eastern music. It is no coincidence that in the past Shusha was called as “Italy of the Caucasus".
As noted by a prominent writer A.B.Haqverdiyev, at the second half of the XIX century and the early of the XX, wherever you go in the Caucasus, you see that musician – singer are from Karabakh. In wedding parties in Baku, Shamakhy, Ashgabat, Tehran, Istanbul and even in the Istanbul the singer group was invited namely from Shusha. The beautiful voices of singers of Karabagh always overshadowed with their skilful arts  singers from Iran, Turkey. The singers of Karabakh  had a special respect in musical assemblies of Shamakhy and Baku. 
These singers provided a direction to all other artists working in the field of music.  From various places singers and tar players visited Shush and sang and danced for Karabakh musicians and tried to get instructions and appreciation from them. They were waited with anxiety for how the sultans of mugham like Haji Husu, Sadıqjan, Mirza Mukhtar would estimate their performance...

Thus, the music assembly of Shusha played an exceptional role in the training of national music officials, and stimulated the development of the Azerbaijani music. In one of his letters the famous Russian poet Sergey Yesenin pointed out a beautiful voice of Shusha people: "If one cannot sing, it means he is not from Shusha."
Thus, city of Shusha became the center of the music at the end of the XIX century. Here, there were up to 70 singers. Kharrat Gulu Mohammed oglu(1823-1883), a famous musician was a founder of the music school in Shusha. 
The head of Shusha music assembly Mir Mohsin Navvab was one of the most skillful musicians of XIX century. Navvab has worked for had for population’s education, cultural development. He had a special care that Shusha became the centre of the music.  Navvab had organized "Singers’ Assembly” with the close participation of the singer Haji Husu.  His music assembly played a vital role in the cultural life of the city after music assembly of Kharrat Gulu and Khurshudbanu Natavan’s Assembly "Majlis-i -Uns" (friendship assembly). After Music Assembly of Navvab, the music school of Mullah Ibrahim was established in Shusha. A lot of musicians have been taught in this school. Our famous poet Bulbul had got his first education at this school.

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