For all its richness, the Turkmen national culture cannot boast too many personalities who defined the major milestones of its development. Regardless of the criteria for this list of names of such personalities, Chary Nurymov will always have a place in it. It was Chary Nurymov and the generation of the sixties of the last century who were destined to support and promote the Turkmen culture beyond the narrow national borders. Composing modern future-oriented music was the meaning of his life and the natural state of his soul.
In November 2020, the International Organization of Turkic Culture (TURKSOY) organized an anniversary concert in Ashgabat in memory of one of the outstanding representatives of the Turkmen classical music, composer Chary Nurymov, on the occasion of his 80th birthday. The online concert brought together musicians from different counties who paid tribute to the Turkmen musical genius.
Turkmen land is fertile ground for sowing grains that will bloom with lush, thick greenery.
The long-awaited rains will give it life-giving moisture, the warm rays of the eternal luminary will warm it up, and it will bear fruits that one needs to pick and enjoy. It was this land that gave birth to the grain that the Creator gifted with an incredible talent. It was destined to become Chary Nurymov – a great musician who masterfully lifts the veil of the past, skillfully capturing the present and insightfully looking into the future.
Chary Nurymov (1940–1993) is one of few Turkmen composers who dared to challenge the rigid framework established by the previous generation, making it more flexible and malleable for realization of the most daring creative solutions. The young and daring musical generation of the second half of the 60s – early 70s, including Nury Khalmamedov, Rejep Allayarov, Aman Agadzhikov, Rejep Rejepov, Chary Nurymov did not quail at the authority of elder composers. They honored and respected them, but each of them chose their own path. Their individual talents were so strong that they did not get in each other’s way. On the contrary, they complemented one another, creating a surprisingly motley and, at the same time, extremely solid image of Turkmen music that presented the Turkmen people in a colorful and beautiful language.
Chary, the youngest son in the family, was born on April 23, 1940. As the composer used to humorously recall, “our family lived in the desert, herding sheep. Someone was born all the time. It was an endless fuss and my birth only added to it. In this fuss, they dated my birth to January 1, 1941, the city of Bayram-Ali.” Soon, the father of little Chary, Nurym Yazov, was called to defend his Motherland. The boy’s father never returned from the war. There remained four sons, three of them became famous composers – Durdy Nuriyev, Sapar Nuriyev, Chary Nurymov.
Chary’s childhood was characterized by the difficult war years, when everything was produced for the front, when everyone was waiting for Victory. Despite hard work, hardships, hunger, people did not have time for rest, they lived in the name of the great goal. As Chary recalls, many years later he tried to express in music his own memories of “faces and hands of soldiers that he met in the childhood, tear-stained eyes of women”. Chary dedicated many compositions to all who went to the war for victory, especially the First Symphony that he composed as a student of the Gnessin State Musical Pedagogical Institute.
Olga Alekseevna Krivchenko was Chary’s very first music teacher. She also taught many future Turkmen composers. With time, when Chary Nurymov became a professional musician, he always fondly spoke not only of Olga Alekseevna’s classes but also of her kind and caring attitude towards all children of the post-war years. It was during her music classes that he realized that music was his future, the purpose of his whole life. Thanks to her attention and sensitive attitude, Chary soon learned the basics of music and firmly decided to enter a music school in Ashgabat.
It was 1955. Chary was 15 years old, and his goal was to become a musician. The admission panel highly appreciated the boy’s knowledge and skills and admitted him to the faculty of theory and composition. He also learned to play the oboe. The optional course of composition was taught by composer Ashir Kuliev (1918–2000). It was his advice and instructions that helped young Chary to navigate in the boundless ocean of music. Chary undoubtedly owes his formation as a composer to the instructions of other masters of the Turkmen composing school of the older generation, such as Dangatar Ovezov, Veli Mukhatov. The young composer’s first successful composing experience was the Overture for Symphony Orchestra, performed by the school’s symphony orchestra. This success inspired the young man, but he knew there was still much to learn. Qualities such as purposefulness and concentration inherent in Chary since childhood helped him choose the right direction, the right path, without losing his guiding line.
In 1959, after successfully graduating from the music school, he was admitted to the Gnessin State Musical Pedagogical Institute, where he studied composing in the class of the talented composer, outstanding teacher, theoretical scientist – Heinrich Litinsky (1901–1985). People said that Heinrich Litinsky was passionate about folklore of different nations that led him to composing a number of works immediately after graduating from the conservatory with honors in 1928, including the Fourth String Quartet based on the melodies of Sayat-Nova, “Dagestan Suite” for orchestra and the Fifth Quartet “Turkmeniana” that won the first prize at the All-Union Competition. It should be noted that all of the above works clearly illustrate the remarkable tendency of many Moscow and Leningrad composers to turn to the folklore of different peoples of the USSR. At the same time, special attention was paid to the traditional music of the East. It was the kind of continuation of the traditional line of the Russian classics. At the same time, there was naturally a sincere desire to contribute to the formation of young composing schools in the republics of Central Asia, the Volga region, the North Caucasus, given the closeness of national sources of melos with the forms of European music.
“Sometimes it was even impossible to differentiate between personal human charm of Heinrich Ilyich and his pedagogical authority,” Chary Nurymov used to say about his teacher. “The professor’s teaching method was gentle. He never imposed his own vision. He did not really scold students for incomplete homework. Yet, it was impossible to cool off in the class of Heinrich Ilyich, as the teaching process and the logic of his thinking were so exciting. Litinsky’s superior intellect “charged” all his students with thoughts, ideas, knowledge, far beyond the purely composer’s specifics. Offering a solid teaching system of composing, he would find the best option for everyone, striving to develop the best qualities in his students, with an amazing foresight of the future.”
Litinsky skillfully guided students in the right direction, while keeping their artistic individuality. Being an expert of Turkmen music, Heinrich Litinsky correctly identified Chary Nurymov’s role in music and found the right “key” to his talent. It was Litinsky that Chary Nurymov chose as his mentor for the postgraduate study.
Being the professional polyphonic composer (one of the most difficult techniques of music composing), Heinrich Litinsky encouraged his student’s interest in polyphony, and soon this serious work bore fruits. To this day, Chary Nurymov remains one of the most popular composers of polyphonic music. His polyphonic works are played in all music schools, music colleges and conservatories. They are always popular, modern and future-oriented.
Chary’s diploma work was Symphony in e-moll (1964), one of the first Turkmen symphonies. Returning home after graduation, Chary immediately plunged into the booming musical life of Ashgabat. He taught at a school, at the Turkmen State Pedagogical Institute of Arts, participated in shows, competitions, traveled around the republic. For a long time, he headed the Union of Composers of Turkmenistan.
The genre of “popular music”, so tempting in terms of quick fame, did not affect young Chary for long. He did not succumb to temptation. He acted instead of dreaming. He was looking for his own unique, original style. The composer’s contemporaries even saw his external appearance in harmony with his inner world, not separating music from a person. He always dressed extremely neatly and paid great attention to the slightest details of his appearance. Chary Nurymov seemed to follow the unspoken rule that clothes reflect the inner world of a person. Undoubtedly, the composer’s external appearance continued in his works. They were based on constructivism, strict architectonics, logical consistency, restrained dynamism and subjective principle.
Chary Nurymov is the author of three ballets, composed without co-authorship for the first time in the history of Turkmen music. The ballet “Death of Dry Hove” was staged in 1967, for which the composer was awarded the Lenin Komsomol Prize. The ballet “Immortality” (1972) was the next stage of Turkmen choreography. In 1977, the ballet “The Kugitan Tragedy” was awarded the State Prize of Turkmenistan named after Magtymguly.
Like no other Turkmen composer, Chary Nurymov gravitated towards instrumental genres, prefacing each of his opuses with an emotional underlying message. For example, here is the message that prefaced “Teke Frescoes” for a chamber orchestra (1970) – “the measured rhythm of hot sands of the Karakum desert ... sultry whirlwinds ... loose dunes ... the wild run of Akhal-Teke horses ... The immense sun overhead ... Caravans wandering in the desert ... All this draw pictures of the past in people’s imagination, associated with fresco paintings. Perhaps the Teke tribe did not know frescoes, but pictures of their daily life, traditions of the ancient Teke art, customs could be embodied in fresco paintings. This piece of music is one of the most popular piano cycles.
Nurymov fully realized his composing potential in the concert genre, resulting in many concert opuses – for trumpet, voice, piano and orchestra. These works brought success to the composer. His first Trumpet Concert dedicated to and first performed by outstanding Bulgarian trumpeter Pyotr Karparov (1969) was performed in Bulgaria. The poem for voice and orchestra (1971) was brilliantly interpreted by People’s Artist of the USSR Maya Shakhberdyeva. The French musical community was thrilled to bits about “Gazelles” for oboe and chamber orchestra performed in Rouen on January 27, 1989.
In 1984, Nurymov composed Symphony No. 2 “In Memory of Indira Gandhi” as a protest against human violence. Chary Nurymov used to say that “there is only one way to preserve peace for future generations – to live in peace, look for ways of cooperation and strive to solve problems through goodwill. And, I think, art can play a significant role in this, for it has always ignored state boundaries by stretching out a hand of friendship. This is the essence of everything.” This is evidenced by the immortal works created by the composer, addressed to those who value peace and tranquility on Earth.
We got used to the names of compositions such as “Destan Concert”, “Gazelles”, “Teke Frescoes”, “Mukam”, “Maru-shahu-Jahan” (Merv is the ruler of the world), which is the name of the 3rd symphony. All these works were composed by Chary Nurymov. He would give spectacular names to his compositions and put in them deep philosophy associated with his deep understanding of truly national traditions. And this makes him special in the Turkmen national culture.
With his unique works, Chary Nurymov built a kind of bridge between the past and the future, thereby breathing new life into the unshakable canons of musical art. Chary Nurymov’s artistic path will always serve for future generations as an inspirational example of serving music, a call for creation of new, unique musical masterpieces.