Vagif Mustafa Zadeh
Internet Edition compiled by Onno van Rijen
Updated 26 December 2004
Vagif Mustafa Zadeh was born 16 March 1940 in Baku (Azerbaijan). He died 17 December 1979 in Tashkent.
He graduated from Baku State Musical technical school named after Asaf Zeynalli in 1963.
He is one of the founders of the azeri jazz music and a founder of the new jazz trend,
assembling both a traditional Azeri music and a classic American jazz. This trend is called
jazz - mugam. He is the architect of the Azerbaijani Mugam Jazz Movement; his wife Eliza
Mustafa Zadeh (in Soviet times known as Eliza Khanom) was a professional singer and one of the first women to sing in the new Mugam Jazz style.
Mugam is based on many different modes and tonal scales where different relations between
notes and scales are envisaged and developed. The music is meta-ethnic – almost omnipresent
throughout Central Asia and the Middle East. Musicologists often mutter incomprehensible
things when attempting to dissertate on the mugam tradition. Their explanations are so
roundabout that it is impossible to work out the exact nature of the music. In reality ‘mugam’
has two different, but related meanings. The Azeri composer, Kara Karayev, writing in
Sovietskaya Muzkya (1949) has the following explanation: “The expression ‘mugam’ is used
in two senses in the folk music of Azerbaijan. On the one hand the word ‘Mugam’ describes
the same thing as the term ‘lad’ (Russian for key, mode, scale). An analysis of Azeri songs,
dances and other folk-music forms show that they are always constructed according to
one (of these) modes. On the other hand the term ‘Mugam’ refers to an individual,
multi-movement form. This form combines elements of a suite and a rhapsody, is symphonic
in nature, and has its own set of structural rules. In particular one should observe that
the ‘Suite-Rhapsody-Mugam’ is constructed according to one particular ‘Mode-Mugam’ and is
subject to all of the particular requirements of this mode.”
Mugam also describes a specific type of musical composition and performance, which is hard
to grasp with an understanding of western concepts of music most notably because mugam
composition is improvisational in nature. This brings the music close to jazz. At the
same time – and this is antithetical to the heart and soul of jazz – it follows exact
rules. Furthermore, in the case of the suite-rhapsody-mugam the concept of improvisation
is not really an accurate one, since the artistic imagination of the performers is based
on a strict foundation of principles determined by the respective mode. The performance of
such a mugam does not present an amorphous and spontaneous, impulsive improvisation. The songs
are often based on the ancient poetry of Azerbaijan, and although love is a common topic
in these poems, due to their immense complexity many of the intricacies and the spiritual
and romantic allusions are lost on the untrained ear.
Three Preludes for Adilia Alieva
Concerto for piano and string orchestra in jazz style
- CD Gallo CD-707: Adilia Alieva (piano)
- Presto - Moderato - Presto risoluto – Moderato - Presto - Andante maestoso – Risoluto con brio - Adagio amoroso – Ardente
CD Gallo-832: Kiev National Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, Anton Scharoev (conductor), Adilia Alieva (piano)
Vagif's daughter Aziza was born on 19 December 1969 in Baku (Azerbaijan). Aziza started playing the piano
when she was 3 years old, gave her first concerts with 14, and won her first international prizes with 17.
If you are an admirer of jazz music then please check Aziza's page.
This webpage is incomplete at the moment and will be updated in the near future.
For more information please check Vagif's Website from Baku.
Please send your comments
Return to Onno van Rijen's Soviet Composer's Page
Return to Onno van Rijen's Home Page