Shusha – a cradle of Azerbaijani music, Conservatory of the South Caucasus

Baku, March 19, AZERTAC

Azerbaijani literature has a rich history traced back to Karabakh, the historical cradle of Azerbaijan, which has been known around the world for centuries for its ancient monuments and unmatched art.

This land nurtured a host of well-known thinkers of the East such as Said Amirul Bardayi, Sadullah Bardayi and Mahammad Garabaghi.

Molla Panah Vagif, vizier (chief minister) of the Karabakh Khan, laid the foundation of a new national school of poetry in Azerbaijani literature in the 18th century. Furthermore, the 19th century was the “Golden Age” of literature in Karabakh. This era was mainly tracked in the city of Shusha.

The city of Shusha that was surrounded by mountains and precipitous rocky areas from three sides providing natural fortification was founded in 1752 at the most strategic point of Karabakh.

Shusha was a significant cultural center of not only Karabakh but the entire Azerbaijan in the second half of the 19th century, along with being a cradle of national music. The city was called “the South Caucasus conservatory”. Dozens of outstanding personalities like the great khanandas (singers) who promoted the Azerbaijani mugham in Europe, including Jabbar Garyaghdioghlu and Mahammad Kechachioghlu, as well as the author of the first opera in the Muslim East, composer Uzeyir Hajibayli, hail from this territory.

“Tazkireyi-Navvab”, a piece of work composed by Mir Mohsun Navvab, a Shusha-based painter, poet and scholar, cites the names of up to 100 writers who lived in the city in that time period. Prominent poetess Khurshudbanu Natavan (1832-1897), known as “Khan’s daughter” (a daughter of Mehdigulu, the last Karabakh Khan), made a special contribution to the enrichment of literature in Shusha and Karabakh overall.

Natavan brought together a great number of poets of that era by establishing a literary community called “Majlisi-uns” in Shusha.

The Karabakh literary community was also home to well-known satirical poet Gasim bay Zakir and Ashiq Pari, a poet and folk singer.

In the late 19th century and the early 20th century, this land also nurtured such writers and playwrights as Najaf bay Vazirov, Abdurrahim bay Haqverdiyev, Yusif Vazir Chamanzaminli and Suleyman Sani Akhundov.

The integral part of Azerbaijan - Karabakh and the city of Shusha, a cradle of Azerbaijani culture were liberated in the 44-day Patriotic war following their occupation by Armenian armed forces for about 30 years.

Today, a large-scale restoration and rebuilding work has been launched in the territories liberated from the Armenian occupation.

Rehabilitation is currently underway upon the tombs, caravanserais, house museums and mosques that were affected by Armenian vandalism in Shusha during the occupation.

The ongoing overhaul and rehabilitation efforts in Shusha are expected to reinstate its historical and cultural image and turn the ancient city into a new and attractive destination on the world cultural heritage map.

The primary goal of the rehabilitation endeavors is to restore the city of Shusha, which has been declared the “Cultural Capital” of Azerbaijan by President Ilham Aliyev, and its historic role in the country’s cultural heritage, as well as inform the international community that it is a cradle of national art and music.

The “Kharibulbul” music festival, which was organized by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation on the Jidir Duzu in Shusha on President Ilham Aliyev’s instructions on May 12-13, 2021, marked Azerbaijan’s glorious return to the capital of Azerbaijani culture.

Just six months after its liberation, the ancient city once again embraced the environment of national music and art, which was embedded in history as an overall triumph of Azerbaijani culture.

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