Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev while decorating the famous singer and composer M. Magomayev with the order of “Istiglal” (Independence) - September 6, 2002

Dear Muslum,

Dear Tamara,

Ladies and gentlemen, dear guests,

These days, the people of Azerbaijan and our country celebrate a big anniversary, the 60th anniversary of the birth of the artist, prominent singer and composer Muslum Magomayev.

Dear Muslum, these anniversary celebrations, which take place in Azerbaijan and which will continue further on, are related with your great contribution to the Azerbaijani culture, art and world culture. Your work has become an integral and very significant part of the culture and art of Azerbaijan. In your life and creative activity you have highly enriched our culture and our art of music.

Now, it is impossible to imagine the history of the Azerbaijani culture of the last 40 years without Muslum. However, here the story goes even deeper, as grandfather of our present Muslum Magomayev was a distinguished composer, musician and together with the great Uzeyir Hajibeyov were the founders of the professional music and opera in Azerbaijan. Muslum continues the work of his grandfather, and therefore, the Magomaevs do not cover only the present period of Muslum Magomayev, it goes back to the time when his grandfather, I repeat, with Uzeyir Hajibeyov created the first pieces of professional music and opera in Azerbaijan.

God gave you, Muslum, a unique voice, but not only voice. He endowed you with talent, and it gave you an opportunity to use skillfully this unique voice and create outstanding works of art, become an outstanding singer and master of art.

I am not going to tell here your biography or details of your creative activity. I think that we have still time for it. Perhaps, it will also be done. But I remember those days, when you, as an unknown young man in the society, suddenly impressed everyone with your voice and songs. In my opinion, you started your creativity in an ensemble of amateurs of the House of Culture of the Caspian Shipping Company. It is probably because you lived nearby or it had some other reason. Perhaps you went there when you were a child and showed yourself there. I remember then, for many people, even for me, who was interested in music and art, your performance was a phenomenon of great significance. Perhaps in the early years of your creativity it did not attract enough attention. I remember that too. However, your creativity, that is, your voice and songs were so amazing that they impressed not only separate people, but also the whole society in Azerbaijan, and as a result it made you popular and you began to be engaged in your favorite activity.

Muslum, I was in friendly relations with you for many years, I mean, me and my family. Perhaps, my opinion is subjective, but not because we are friends, because I really love your songs. Everybody sings your songs. But the same song can be performed by different artists in different ways. That is a feature of Muslum, which differs him from all the other artists. If he performs a song, he gives it his own interpretation, arrangement, and some nuances and this song sounded as if it was a newly-written song. I can analyze your songs. Because each of your songs is a significant work of art, but I shall not do it now, maybe I shall do it in future.

Because today we have gathered to congratulate you, and I have a pleasant mission to decorate you a high award of the independent Republic of Azerbaijan. Nevertheless, I tell about all this because as a lover of art, lover of songs, and as a person, infinitely loving his Azerbaijani people, his land and, of course, as a person being a close friend of Muslum Magomayev over 30 years I cannot miss it.

Both Muslim and I are lucky that I started caring for Muslim after coming to power in Azerbaijan in 1969. Such a talented singer does not actually need any care, but it was necessary in the period and conditions we lived. I was doing it for the promotion of the prominent Azerbaijani musician, singer, composer; in his turn he enriched our culture and promoted our country. Then, it was my duty to do what I could for this talented person. By the way, I am doing it today. But more than 30 years ago, these circumstances made me closer to Muslum. But in addition, of course, as the head of the republic I supported the talented people, especially the young talents then and today, but I do not have the possibility to maintain some personal and friendly relations with each of them. But with Muslum it was turned out that our family and I established very close and personal relations, and it was pleasant to talk with him and it always let me be aware of his works. Muslum in the first period of his life, if I may say so, very clearly manifested himself, but at the same time lived a very free life. I advised him that all it was good, but you should also think about a family and a friend of life. He listened to me but made his own way. By the way, he was a man who could not be forced to do anything. If he does not want anything, you cannot force him to do it. I have never forced him. First, this is not inherent to my nature, and secondly, I thought: let Muslum do what he wants. However, I gave him advice. They became helpful. Suddenly Tamara Sinyavskaya arrived in Azerbaijan in 1972, but she was not alone, there was a very large group of outstanding Russian artists accompanying her.

 We held the Days of Russian Culture in Azerbaijan. And now, Muslum who lived in Moscow for years, could not find her there, but here in Baku.

I felt it. I remember how we went by a large ferry to “the Oil Rocks” (Neft Dashlari) with an entire delegation. In the delegation there were about a thousand people. I arrived there in the end and, of course, I was informed who was there from the guests. I wanted nothing to happen to one of them. I was told that all from the list is on the ferry besides Muslum. I asked: “where is the Muslum? Find him”. I even delayed the ferry for half an hour. Then I was said, you know, Heydar Aliyev, do not wait, because Tamara Sinyavskaya is not here either, who also was part of the delegation. Perhaps, they will not be here. I thought let them remain. Their friendship began in those days. I am glad that soon after he informed me that he was married. I invited them to Baku, we celebrated their wedding here in the narrow circle of my family and some of my colleagues. I remember that day well. Tamara also probably remembers it well. Why am I telling you this? I am glad that the family life of Muslum turned so well. This is a very important fact for anyone and the stable family life for figures of culture and art –their lives differ a little from the lives of others - it seems to me, is a rare phenomenon. Therefore, Muslum, I think, not only made the right choice when he got married, but also they live for over 30 years together. I know their family life and never got the information that they had a quarrel there and there is a need for reconciling them. Because, if we had to reconcile them, it would be me who should do it, but I have not received such information.

Tamara Sinyavskaya is an outstanding personality, Russian singer, soloist of the Bolshoi Theatre and she has a rich creativity. Well, they are not jealous of each other, do not compete, but help each other. I know that Tamara has played and is playing a major role in the fact that they have such a healthy and strong family life based on love. 30 years ago, I was glad because, I was very worried about Muslum: after all, he had so many fans. We have a hotel in our permanent representation in Moscow, it was not the one that we have built but a smaller one. There have been several private apartments, one of which we gave to him where he lived with Tamara before they got married. I was informed that the police drove the girls out of the house, who constantly flowers on the stairs. Therefore, I was very worried and wanted him to quickly get out of that situation and make a family. Thus, he did.

Thus, today, talking about the creative activity of Muslum, his great merits, his outstanding musical career, singing art, we have to say about Tamara, because they are together for 30 years and their creative activism is the work of their family. However, each of them performs in a variety of genres. I have always been grateful to Tamara for being such a lovely wife for Muslum. Well, I want to mention it as well that we have always been proud that our people have such a daughter as Tamara Sinyavskaya. But it is necessary to talk about it separately, when we shall celebrate her 60th anniversary as she is not yet 60. But Muslum is 60.

It seems to me that Muslum today is singing the same as 30 he did it years ago. However, he is very critical to his own self and, therefore, it seems that is not so. But I listen to him for more than 30 years. There are songs that I particularly like in his performance, I listen to them and do not see the difference. Muslum has created a lot of songs and he is also a composer who proved himself perfectly. But the most outstanding one of his songs is a song dedicated to Azerbaijan. This song sounds like an anthem of Azerbaijan. In the middle of the 70s, he wrote this song to the words of our great poet Nabi Khazri. But most importantly, he performed and created it in a way that no one can perform it as he does. It is good that he performs this song, but it is bad that no one can sing it as he does. Therefore, no one dares to sing it. This is an exceptional song. It is a song that can enter, and probably will enter the history as a unique outstanding work. Every time I listen to this song by Muslum with great excitement. But that is not the only song he created, there are a lot of songs by him. I shall not tell that he did so much in the art of opera, he sculpts and draws well. Two years ago, he has drawn and presented me my portrait. I am very grateful to him, because I know that he worked on the portrait a lot of days and maybe months. He drew me in the way he saw me. In this regard, the portrait is very valuable for me, first, it was drawn by Muslum, and secondly, I know he worked on it several days. Thus, he put in it his feelings.

Muslum has all in the arts and today he celebrates his 60th anniversary. That is, we celebrate it. Maybe he did not want to celebrate, but we celebrate his 60th anniversary and I think that it is just a stage, we shall continue to listen to the voice of Muslum. That voice, that no one else has. The world is full of outstanding singers, but no one has such a voice. Let no one be offended but I express my personal opinion. I do think that this is not a subjective opinion. It is based on an objective analysis and on an objective comparison.

Muslum, may God, preserve all you have, my God, increase the energy that you have even more, so that you always look forward even more. By the way, I saw you on TV yesterday, and I liked what you said. You said that one should be an optimist and you were right. We have to be optimistic. You have every reason to be optimistic. I congratulate you, too.

Muslum gets awards from his teenage years. He was 29 years old when he got the title of People's Artist of Azerbaijan. It was the first time in the history of Azerbaijan, it was in 1971. In the same year he was decorated with the Order of the Red Banner of Labor. After 2 years, in 1973, he received the title of People's Artist of the USSR, he was 31 then. In the Soviet Union, no one at that age was awarded such a high rank. Therefore, I say that Muslum receives awards since his youth. When he was 55 years old, I awarded him the Order of "Glory" of Azerbaijan and handed it to him here. Five years have passed since and we have not even noticed it. Now, Muslum is decorated the highest order of Azerbaijan, "Istiglal". The independence of Azerbaijan is the most valuable achievement at the end of XX century. We are happy that we gained our independence, have our own independent country and our people live in the independent state. In honor of this event our highest award is named "Istiglal". Muslum is decorated with this order.

Muslum, I congratulate you and wish you good health.

Translated from newspaper “Azerbaijan”, September 7, 2002