Uzeyir Hajibeyli (1885-1948). Azerbaijani composer, musicologist, publicist, playwright, pedagogue and public figure. People’s Artist of USSR. The founder of the professional Azerbaijani music. Founder of the first opera in the East. Active member of Azerbaijan SSR Academy of Sciences (1945), professor (1940), Director of Azerbaijan State Conservatory (1928-1929, 1939-1948), Chairman of the Union of Composers of the Azerbaijan SSR (1938-1948), two times deputy of the Supreme Soviet of USSR (1937, 1941), composer of the first anthem of Azerbaijan (the anthem of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic during 1918-1920 which was re-adopted after Azerbaijan regained its independence and the anthem of Azerbaijan SSR). Composer of the first opera in the Islamic world.
In his youth Uzeyir Hajibeyli went to mugham lessons and learned to play on Azerbaijani folk instruments. In 1897 when Azerbaijani playwright Abdurrahim Hagverdiyev and singer Jabbar Garyagdyoglu staged “Majnun on Leyli's grave from Leyli and Majnun” (an episode from “Layla and Majnun” poem of outstanding Azerbaijani poet Muhammed Fuzuli), 13-year-old Uzeyir sang in the choir.
After graduating from madrasah (a religious school) and two-year Russian-Azerbaijani school Uzeyir Hajibeyli studied at the Gori Pedagogical Seminary from 1899 to 1904. There he learned to play the violin, the violoncello and the brass instruments and got acquainted with his future friend and colleague Muslum Magomayev.
In Uzeyir Haijbeyli’s creativity western and eastern music styles arrange a unity; Azerbaijani folk music elements are brought to conformity with the classical European traditions.
In 1908, Hajibeyov wrote first Azerbaijani opera, “Layla and Majnun”, based on the motives of poem by Azerbaijani poet Fuzuli. His second opera “Sheikh Sanan” written in 1909 is entirely opposite to the first in terms of style and is mainly consist of author music.
In 1911 Hajibeyli went to Moscow with the purpose of getting systematic music education. In a year he studied at music courses under Moscow Philharmonic society, learned from A.A. Ilyinski and later moved to Saint Petersburg and there studied at Conservatory and learned from V. Kalafattin (1914).
During 1914-1918 Uzeyir Hajibeyli became editor and later owner of “Yeni Iqbal” newspaper and after a while he became editor of “Azerbaijan” newspaper. In June-September 1918, he led the tours of Azerbaijan Opera Actors to Anzali and Rasht cities of Iran.
His four operas composed in 1910-1915 – “Rustam and Sohrab” (1910), “Asli and Karam” (1912), “Shah Abbas and Khurshid Banu” (1912), and “Harun and Leyli” (1915) were based on Azerbaijani mugham elements. His “Koroghlu” opera composed in 1936 is acclaimed to be his finest. For this opera Uzeyir Hajibeyli has been awarded with Stalin award in 1941. In general, he has composed 7 operas and 3 operettas: “Husband and wife” (1909), “If Not That One, Then This One” (1910) and “Arshin mal alan” (1913).
Except “Koroghlu” opera, Hajibeyli was the author of librettos of all his works. He has “Furuze” opera which has not been completed. This work has been later completed by composer Ismail Hajibeyli.
In 1920 the composer reported to the People's Commissariat for Education of Azerbaijan SSR about the importance of establishment of music academy and natinonal conservatory and also providing them with former school buildings. Following years Uzeyir Hajbeyli led Azerbaijan Turkish school established by his initiative. In 1925 he was selected as a deputy of Baku Labourist Deputies Soviet and the next year he became vice-rector of Azerbaijan State Conservatorie.
Uzeyir Hejibeyli laid a foundation of new genre of vocal music, romance-ghazal and created works like “Without you” (1941) and “Sevgili Janan” (1943).
In the late 1920s and early 1930 Hajibeyli composed the first Azerbaijani choir songs, camera instrumental works, “In cotton fields” suite for orchestra of folks instruments, “Chahargah mode” (1932), “Shur mode (1932) fantasias, cantatas, also “To the memory of Fuzuli” (1934), orchestra (overtures), choir works, “Ashugsayagi” for violin, violoncello and fortepiano (1932), sonatina for fortepiano.
In 1931 Uzeyir Hajibeyli helped in establishing Folk Instruments Orchestra and in 1936 he assisted in founding of the State choir.
During The World War II, 1941-1945 Uzeyir Hajibeyli composed a number of patriotic songs (“Have a happy journey”, “Sister of Mercy” and etc.), “Motherland and front” cantata (1942) and “Jangi” overture (1942).
In September 1945 Uzeyir Hajibeyli was appointed the director of the Art Institute of the Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan SSR.
The composer died on November 23, 1948 and has been buried in the Alley of Honor in Baku.