The year 2001 saw the fifth anniversary of the death of Mirsadyk Tajiyev, the composer, a senior lecturer at the Tashkent State Conservatoire and a noted figure in the country’s arts. His work exerted a noticeable influence on the development of the art of composition in Uzbekistan. The name Mirsadyk Tajiyev is justifiably part of the history of Uzbek music. He was Uzbekistan’s greatest symphonic composer. His works include symphonies and musical dramas, choral music and pieces for an orchestra of folk instruments. He wrote 19 symphonies within the framework of the Uzbek school of composition. This is an unprecedented achievement.
Tajiyev’s rise as a musician was brilliant and rapid. He graduated from the historical and theoretical department of the Khamza Musical College, attending Malakhov’s composition classes. During his years of study at the Conservatoire, Tajiyev worked keenly in various genres. He presented the Second Ballet Symphony as his graduation project.
While adhering to the traditions of the composers of the older generation, Tajiyev always strove to find his own way in art. His interest in searching for something new helped him again and again to experiment, as is particularly evident from his symphonies. Some of them are distinguished by the scope of the concept and the grandiose composition of the orchestra, while others are intended for chamber orchestra performance.
Tajiyev has gone down in the history of Uzbek music as the creator of the so-called “makom” symphony, as Dmitri Yanov – Yanovsky termed it, the hallmark of which is an organic combination of the features of makom development with the laws of the European symphonic model. Tajiyev’s works represent a synthesis of the national and the pan-national. His music presents the world of national traditions as seen by an artist of the 20th century.
Tajiyev always aimed not at an outward depiction of national colour, but at an understanding of the deep-seated inner properties of traditional music. From the depths of the makoms he borrowed the meditative, philosophical mood and the gradual development of a thought. He replaces the dramatic conflicts of the European symphony with the gradual build-up of inner tension that is characteristic of makom forms. The author boldly combines folk tunes with the modern devices of aleatoric techniques. It is indicative that, even in his most “national” works, Tajiyev very subtly marshals the expressive resources of very European genre arts, subordinating them to the requirements of a specific concept. For example, in the Third Symphony, which is considered “one of the most brilliant achievements of the modern Uzbek symphonic art”, the composer introduces elements of the funeral march in order to reinforce the note of tragedy.
Tajiyev’s Fifteenth Symphony (“The GULAG Archipelago”), which has come to be a kind of memorial to the victims of the mass repression, is regarded as one of the most interesting developments in Uzbek symphony music. It is, perhaps, one of the composer’s few works in which the national features are the most concealed. The march genre, which is intertwined with electronic music and aleatoric techniques, plays an important semantic and dramatic role in the symphony. The march elements, which are dispersed throughout the musical fabric, function in the symphony as attributes of the totalitarian system. The mechanical repetition of the accentuated march rhythm formula and the gradual swelling of the sound create the effect of the aggressive pressure of the anti-human force.
At the climax, the author quotes the marching song “Wide is my own dear country”. The tune, which served for a long time as the sign-on music for Soviet radio, sounds, in the context of the symphony, like the crowning point of totalitarian falsehood. The composer uses the march elements not just to create an abstract image of evil. They also form a powerful signature tune for a specific historical period. It can be said that Tajiyev has discovered new figurative and semantic possibilities for the march by treating it as a symbol of the totalitarian system.
Tajiyev’s works – symphony, opera or musical drama – are always marked by the freedom with which the author handles the expressive resources of different musical layers. The composer experiments boldly with traditional music, European genres and modern equipment. Teaching is another field in which Tajiyev has realised his talents. From 1971 to 1996, he taught composition and instrumental technique at the Tashkent State Conservatoire, urging his pupils to think freely and instilling in them an interest in everything new. Tajiyev’s music makes his listeners look inwards and ponder the eternal problems of existence, and helps them to interpret the present day.
Author: Olga Nikolskaya