This year, Baku will host a concert dedicated to Muslim Magomaev, the great artist and singer of Azerbaijan, who died in 2008. The event will take place on 18 August, a day after the 70th anniversary of his birthday.
Innokentiy Smoktunovsky, a very famous and talented actor during the Soviet time, said once about Muslim Magomaev: “Muslim gained his immediate popularity, immense popularity that has lasted to the present”. The unique baritone voice, high artistry and generosity of Muslim Magomaev conquered more than one generation of listeners. The range of his skills is extremely large, including opera, musicals, Neapolitan songs and vocal works of Azerbaijani composers.
Muslim Magomaev became famous at 19, after a show at the Youth Festival in Helsinki, and as a 31-year-old he was already well-known within the territory of the former Soviet Union. For decades, the singer, who came from a long line of Caucasian musicians, was the idol of millions and his name has become a symbol of Azeri culture. The talent and popularity of Muslim Magomaev, the number one of the Azerbaijani music recognized all over the Europe, are comparable to those of Frank Sinatra.
Muslim Magomaev sang arias from Figaro, Scarpia, Mephisto and Onegin. The year 1969 brought Mr Magomaev a victory in the Song Contest held in Sopot, Poland, and was also the year of gaining his first MIDEM Gold Disc Award at the Cannes Festival, with 4.5 million sold records.
The fatherland of the Soviet citizen
Muslim Magomaev had a great number of songs in his repertoire, but the majority was devoted to his native land. Each of his concerts was started with the song “Azerbaijan”, his won composition. Magomaev wrote down his memories in the book “Любовь моя – мелодия” (Melody, My Love). In the chapter about his father, a soldier of the Soviet Army, entitled “Father wanted to come back from war …”, he described searching for his grave.
Sergeant Magomet Muslimovich Magomaev, father of the singer, died in a small town Kustrin near Berlin nine days before the war ended. His image as a worthy soldier was formed upon memories of his wartime comrades. His regiment friends decided to bury the fallen soldiers in the Polish soil. It was later difficult to find the father’s grave, because records were missing – the name of place where he had been buried was unknown. Only some time later it was found out that the place, in which soldiers from the regiment in which Sergeant Magomayev served were buried, was located in the area called Kshivin Grafinski. But in 1952, the remains of the dead soldiers were reburied in a mass grave in the cemetery in Chojna (former Königsberg, today: in western Poland, West Pomeranian Voivodeship), app. 60 kilometres from Szczecin. There are 3985 Soviet soldiers buried at this cemetery – one of the largest burial places in Western Pomerania, with records of six hundred names of soldiers, including the name and surname of Muslim`s father.
The singer wrote in “Melody, My Love”, in the chapter devoted to his father:
Then in Szczecin, Polish friends asked me:
“Would you want to perhaps take your father`s ashes to his native land?”
But how to find his remains among the dozens of others in the grave? So I replied:
“In my opinion, it is not a strange land where my father was buried”.
All thanks to well-known historian Janusz Przymanowski who published a book of remembrance about soldiers who died and were buried in Poland, where the name of my father can be found in one of the volumes”.
Translated from Russian: PA
Being a “True Singer”
According to one of the famous musicologist Svyatoslav Belza:“The best example of a True Singer, who has become the brightest Superstar, is Muslim Magomaev. His brilliant and genuine talent stands out among the “tinsel show” of those who try to attract the public in concert halls and on TV screens”.
Below is a story of my grandfather who had had a chance to meet Muslim Magomaev in the Russian capital back in the 1960s. It is a memory of Muslim Magomaev’s kindness and his big love for his fans and fellow citizens
Mr Islam Aliyev:
It happened in 1967, when I personally met Mr Muslim Magomaev. There was a special week of Azerbaijani art and literature in Moscow, where was organized the concert of Azerbaijani singers: Muslim Magomaev, Zeynab Khanlarova, Lutviyar Imanov and others. I came to Moscow with my wife and we really wished to attend this concert, but we did not have tickets.
There was a long turn on the way to the Kremlin Palace of Congresses [today: the State Kremlin Palace – ed. note] where the concert was held. They did not let women enter because they knew how women loved Mr Magomaev. The singer himself and Lutviyar Imanov were standing together on the other side of the Palace. Only three hours remained until the concert started. I was walking with my wife and people, noticing that we were outsiders, let us come in, where we met the legends – Mr Muslim Magomaev and his friend Mr Lutviyar Imanov.
They were very glad to know that we were from Baku, Azerbaijan, and came specially for the concert. Mr Magomaev asked if we’d had the tickets. I told him that, well, unfortunately I hadn’t had them but I had seen how they had been still being sold at the Metro station. Muslim Magomaev responded: “If you cannot find the tickets there, we will give you our ID cards which you can use instead of tickets to enter the Palace. And we will be waiting here for you half hour before the concert starts.” I was very glad to hear that and hurried to the station to buy the tickets, then went with my wife back to the Palace where I saw both gentlemen standing right there, waiting for us. I thanked them and we entered the hall.