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Nury Khalmamedov, an outstanding Turkmen composer, would have turned 80 years old this year. The composer's birth anniversary aroused great interest in his artistic heritage both in Turkmenistan and abroad, providing a wonderful occasion to pay tribute to the great maestro who opened to the world the depth and originality of the musical culture of his people.
The composer's 80th birth anniversary was celebrated in Ashgabat with concerts and a festival called "Nury Khalmamedov's Music - the Incessant Melody of the Epochs" that provided a framework for holding art contests, a scientific conference, exhibitions, a photo album presentation and the release of audio tapes. The national television and printed mass media ensured full coverage of the birth anniversary events.
Gulsoltan Khalmammedova, the composer's widow, his faithful and devoted friend, true support in life and art muse, was an invariable participant of celebrations. The Honored Worker of Culture, Chair of the Union of Cinematographers of Turkmenistan and teacher, she does a lot for development of national culture. At the same time, she believes that her main mission in life is to preserve and pass the heritage of her famous spouse to young talents.
She donated priceless documents, photographs and scores of the composer's works to the State Archives. Much was presented to friends and novice musicians. Gulya Klychevna is confident that preservation of heritage means sharing it generously, and that is why she continues vigorously fulfilling her responsible mission.
Reflecting on the birth anniversary events, the composer's widow noted that they achieved the main goal. That is to say, these events united talented people, helped to open new names and enabled young talents to present their own reading of Khalmamedov's music. As Gulya Klychevna said, it was always important for Nury who appreciated sincerity and genuine kindness. He was endowed with such qualities and generously shared them with people and, above all, with young talents.
The musical images created by the Turkmen composer excite different generations of people in various countries, allowing talents to unfold their potential, filling our hearts with love and inspiration. The composer seemed to foresee it in conversations with his wife before passing away. He prophesied that over the years the significance and perception of his works would only increase. "Nury's music lives on, and sometimes it seems to me that his famous compositions sound completely anew, confirming the truth: time has no power over the works of art," Gulya Klychevna noted.
The Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatoire - Nury Khalmmedov's alma mater - was naturally one of the venues of the birth anniversary celebrations. It was there that he created over thirty songs, romances and choral works that immediately became very popular. Among them are the first romance "Exile" on one of the most tragic poems by the great Turkmen poet-classic Magtymguly, the play "Sounds of Dutar" in memory of outstanding Turkmen dutar player Mylly Tachmuradov. This play was awarded a special honorary diploma at the All-Union Contest of Young Composers in Moscow in 1962. Nury Khalmamedov's graduation from the Conservatoire is remembered for his famous diploma work "Symphonic Pictures of Turkmenistan" performed by the Bolshoi Symphony Orchestra of the All-Union Radio and Television at the final exam in May 1963.
A student from Turkmenistan was exposed to the highest level of professionalism, subtle artistic taste, inner culture and tact at Professor Anatoly Nikolaevich Alexandrov's School, who was a pupil of outstanding Russian composer and teacher Sergei Ivanovich Taneyev, who, in his turn, was one of the best pupils and friends of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. This school helped him to organically combine in his works the two richest musical cultures - Russian and Turkmen. It was already in the years of his study at the Conservatoire that Khalmamedov gained reputation as an original composer with his special manner that he owned largely due to his inner spiritual culture that harmoniously synthesized both national and purely personal traits inherent in any true artist. This natural synthesis of the national musical element, world musical culture and highest professionalism formed the essence of the composer's special creative manner, which musicologists now call the Khalmamedov style.
In March, the composer's 80th birth anniversary was celebrated at a concert in the Rachmaninov Hall of the Moscow State Conservatoire, which was organized by the Embassy of Turkmenistan in the Russian Federation and the administration of the Conservatoire. Turkmenistan's musicians and singers performed the composer's works. In the last decade of May, the Moscow State Conservatoire hosted another event in honor of Nury Khalmamedov as part of the XVI International Music Festival "Universe of Sound" organized by the administration of the Conservatoire and the organizing committee of the Moscow International Festival "Sounds of Dutar" named after Nury Khalmamedov. The program of the concert featured compositions that reflected the main directions of Nury Khalmamedov's works, such as chamber instrumental music, music for movies, vocal compositions. Soloists of the Bolshoi Theater, Helikon Opera, the Moscow State Academic Symphony Orchestra conducted by Pavel Kogan, students of art universities and musical schools of Moscow took part in the concert. Famous and young musicians and vocalists performed the well-known cycles of the composer's songs, including "Hearts of Men" on Heinrich Heine poetry, "Persian Motifs" on Sergei Yesenin verses, "Interrupted Songs for Children of Hiroshima and Nagasaki" on the verses by Japanese poets, piano compositions "Sounds of Dutar", "Dedication" and "Elegiac Prelude and Fugue", as well as music from the movie "Decisive Step."
The perfect play of music conveyed the main message of Nury Khalmamedov's works that is both national it its core and universal. It was no coincidence that music critics repeatedly noted that Khalmamedov was brilliant in making the most diverse instruments "speak" the language of Turkmen music.
One of the most memorable events in honor of the Turkmen Orpheus was a trip by the cultural delegation to the composer's native village of Daina in Makhtumkuli district of Balkan province organized by the Ministry of Culture of Turkmenistan, where the delegation held unforgettable meetings with the inhabitants of the Sumbar valley and a concert of artists.
Daina always lived in Nury Khalmamedov's heart. Even the tragic recollections of his childhood could not erase in his memory the image of this wonderful poetic place of Turkmen nature, where open, wise and creative people live to this day. They are not only proud of their great fellow countryman but also cherish the memory of him. So, it was natural that the meeting with the cultural delegation from Ashgabat finished with a great party with generous treats and music, of course.
Memories, musical and poetic dedications were performed at the monument erected at the request of villagers by the famous Turkmen sculptor, laureate of Turkmenistan's International Magtymguly Prize, People's Artist of Turkmenistan Saragt Babayev, who was also among the guests of Daina.
The monument depicting the composer in the highest wave of inspiration was erected in the garden, where the trees planted by Nury's grandfather bear fruits to this day. It is in this natural element, reminiscent of the eternity of the spiritual sources of life, that one can best understand the origins of the composer's inspiration and music that is filled with coolness and murmur of the mountain stream, that fascinates with its extraordinary purity and sincerity, richness and beauty of intonations, inexhaustible temperament, amazing naturalness of the language, every word of which is filled with the breath of his native land.
A documentary film describing this pearl of nature was screened at "Ashgabat" cinema center as part of the festival "Nury Khalmamedov's Music - the Incessant Melody of the Epochs". The filmmakers presented the monument erected in the high mountain village, paying special attention to the poetic beauty of Daina.
The festival was held in the Turkmen capital on June 18-21. It started with a concert of artists and the State Symphony Orchestra of Turkmenistan at the Palace of Mukams of the State Cultural Center. A thematic exhibition was set up in the foyer of the Palace, displaying paintings, national musical instruments, photos and archival materials. The two-hour concert program featured Khalmamedov's compositions that are kaleidoscopically diverse in genres, themes and images, style and directions and, most importantly, feelings and intensity of the creative thought.
The audience warmly greeted the musicians and vocalists who sang songs from the well-known Turkmen movies beloved by generations of cinema admirers, including "Mysteries of Mukam", "Magtymguly", "Contest", "Decisive Step", "Bitter Fate", "Pigeons Live in Kyariz". There were also performed romances and a cycle of songs on the verses by Turkmen poets, symphonic works and opera arias.
The festival "Nury Khalmamedov's Music - the Incessant Melody of the Epochs" consisted of many colorful and memorable events with participation of representatives of the art intelligentsia from all the regions of the country. The program of the festival included concerts and contests of young violinists and cellists, pianists and vocalists, composers, as well as scientific debates, film screenings that presented the multifaceted personality of the Turkmen Orpheus.
A theoretical-practical conference dedicated to the artistic embodiment of the composer's image was held as part of the festival. The conference participants spoke about the importance of his artistic heritage in the context of development of the national musical culture, as well as its influence on the visual arts and poetry. The conference took place at the State Academy of Arts that hosted an exposition of works of fine and monumental art dedicated to Nury Khalmamedov, including the well-known works by Durdy Bayramov, Yarly Bayramov, Mamed Mamedov, Saragt Babayev, Nurmuhammed Atayev, who portrayed the image of the genius composer with whom they were closely acquainted, as well as the works by students who draw inspiration in the musical images created by the maestro. Noting the brilliance and originality of the composer's musical thinking, the speakers recalled his words "if I had not become a musician, I would certainly have been a painter."
A concert at the Turkmen State Institute of Culture was the final accord of the art forum. Popular and talented beginner singers who just started their artistic life performed the songs on Nury Khalmamedov's music. The concert finished with a ceremony of awarding the winners of art contests that opened the names of new talents.
A number of events dedicated to Nury Khalmamedov's 80th birth anniversary will be held before the end of the year, including events at the international level. Meeting with the President of Turkmenistan in July, Secretary General of the International Organization of Turkic Culture (TURKSOY) Dusen Kaseinov proposed to hold one of such events in memory of the outstanding Turkmen composer. By the way, the TURKSOY Youth Chamber Orchestra performed Nury Khalmamedov's music in the Balkan series of concerts. As part of the tour, which took place on July 23 - August 6 in the Balkans, young musicians from Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey performed in the concerts presenting the works by the Turkic composers.
The traditional Moscow International Festival "Sounds of Dutar" named after Nury Khalmamedov will take place in the Russian capital this autumn as part of the composer's 80th birth anniversary celebrations.
Nury Khalmamedov passed away on 4 August 1983, when he was just 45 years old. In 1979, the composer was awarded the honorary title of Honored Artist of Turkmenistan. The composer did not happen to know of subsequent awards, such as the title of Laureate of the State Prize of Turkmenistan named after Magtymguly (1983) and the State Prize of the USSR (1984). In the first year of Turkmenistan's independence, he was awarded the title of People's Artist of Turkmenistan (posthumously).
Music is Nury Khalmamedov's true autobiography and fate. He dedicated his short life to the great art. He fulfilled his lofty destiny by creating imperishable music that reminds us of the eternity of the spiritual sources of existence, excite and win our hearts with the depth of thoughts and feelings embedded in them.


©Turkmenistan Analytic magazine, 2005