Bukhara – one of the ancient centers of the world civilization, a thesaurus of knowledge, science, theology, unique architecture and rich musical traditions, which are crowned by Shashmakom, always was the cradle of outstanding people. Bukhara got Imam al-Bukhari, Rudaki, Dakiki, Abu Ali ibn Sino, Baha ad-Din Naqshband and Ahmad Danish to the world. Originality of this city – state found reflection in its epithets “grandeur”, “sacred” and “glorious shrine”. For ages, here have been growing unique traditions of etiquette and aesthetic standards naturally weaving with everyday life of its inhabitants and becoming enfleshed. Mutavakkil Burkhanov, the outstanding Uzbek composer, was one of the brightest bearers of Bukhara’s urban culture.
Until now, musical heritage of Central Asian people, having developed for ages within monody and traditions of musical and poetic folklore, has kept a role of spiritual source inspiring composers. Medieval oriental thinkers, Abu Nasr Farabi, Abu Ali ibn Sino, Qutb ad-Din Shirazi, Utmawi, Abdurahmon Djami and Darvish Ali Changhi (Bukhari) established the musical and theoretical foundations for the traditional classic musical heritage, basically, of medieval Central Asia. Later it got development in work of modern music critics of Uzbekistan and many other eastern and European countries.
In the 20th century in the states of Central Asian, including Uzbekistan, had become active a current of musical life aimed to adaptation of new genres and types of modern composing art in a way of organic synthesis of West-European and local traditional musical heritage. In this, creatively difficult process the works of M. Burkhanov had occupied a significant art importance, in particular, his national cycles for a capella, which can delight a listener of any, level and got a wide recognition both in our republic and in many other countries all over the world.
Mutavakkil (Mutal) Muzaiyynovich Burkhanov was born on May 5,1918 in Bukhara, in a family of mudarris – medreseh’s teacher. The agnate uncles and the mother, who was from aristocratic family, played an important role in his education. He grew in traditional Bukhara intellectual circles where preferred to spend leisure hours reading classic poetry in Farsi and Turkic, playing musical instruments and discussing, what much influenced his interests. When he was eight, he began to learn tanbur playing, first at home and then at the first Bukhra’s musical college established on initiative of Fitrat. His teachers were the famous singers, such as Ota Djalol, Domla Halim and tanbur player Ma’rufdjon – aka Toshpulat. From 1928 M. Burkahnov studied music in Samarkand, at newly established Institute of Music and Choreography of Uzbekistan (INMUZCHORUZ), which combined functions of educational and scientific research institute (now, it is the Scientific Research Institute of Fine Arts of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan, in 1931 transferred to Tashkent, a new capital of the republic).
M. Burkhanov seriously studied the composition at the Uzbek studio of the Moscow Conservatory (1935 – 1939) in class of Professor S. Vasilenko. He recommenced his study in 1947, then on a new level, when Burkhanov had already become an author of the State hymn of Uzbekistan, many popular songs, romances and music to theatre plays. In 1949, he got a degree of a composer at the Moscow conservatory.
In 1955 – 1960, M. Burkhanov had been a head of the Republican Association of Composers. In 1964, he was awarded a title of “Honored Figure of Arts of Uzbekistan”. The high governmental awards of the independent republic marked his creative and organizational contribution into development of Uzbek musical culture. He was awarded the orders “Buyuk hizmatlari uchun” (2001) and “El yurt kurmati” (2001). In his life and art Mutavakkil Burkhanov always was a patriot of his native land and a person of exclusive perfectionism. He always was an example for the creative youth.
For his last years M. Burkhanov had lived in Bukhara, his native city and left his biographical memoirs. Who else besides him loosing his friends and kin could better tell about the hard years of repressions, about the people, which were the flower of Uzbek intellectuals and executed as enemies of the nation. He often told about that as about his obligation before them. He had fulfilled it shortly before his death. , at the same time remaining faithful to music and problems of its development.
M. Burkhanov’s works conquer listeners by their bright national originality, completed forms and organic “weaving” of traditional Uzbek, Tadjik, Karakalpak or other specifically oriental musical intonations with innovative European (classic, composed works) means of musical expressiveness, furthermore proving practically the possibility of their organic “inflow” into monody based music of different continents. Many-sidedness of the respectable composer found reflection both in his works related to big forms and in his lyrical songs (“Ipaklari tillodan”, “Guzal Fargona”, “Khormang kizlar”, etc.), in his delighting romances (“Namedonam chi nom dorad”, “Kelsa nogokh”, etc.), in grand solemn melody of the State hymn of Uzbekistan (setting of Abdullah Aripov). Deeply touching and full of personal recollections was a romance on Abdurauf Fitrat’s verse “Tashladi, ketdi” (“She has left”) the composer had created in his last years. This work of M. Burkhanov was born in extremely hard creative searches and deep heart tensions, which even I, who personally saw all this process, can not fully describe in words. I suppose, the same happened when he created each his work.
His songs to the films “You charmed me” and “Ibn Sino”(“Avicenna”), which obtained independent value, are very popular. Such symphonic works of M. Burkhanov as the ballad “Dream of the Poet” set on Mashrab and requiem “Eternal Memory” set on Fitrat, Chulpan and Nasir occupy a worthful place in modern Uzbek music. The music of M. Burkhanov to the puppet theatre play “Aigul and Bakhtiyar” (libretto of Zulfiya on the play of Khamid Alimdjan) became his gift to the youngest listeners.
Many times the composer turned to the great Uzbek poet Alisher Navoi. His music to the play “Alisher Navoi” (1949, dramaturgy of Uygun and I. Sultan) continues to give joy to spectators. The composer returned to the character of the poet in “Kasid to Alisher Navoi” (setting by A. Aripov). In the 1980s, he started the opera “Alisher Navoi” on libretto of Izzat Sultan jointly with the composer. In 1990, the opera was completed and staged at the State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet named after A. Navoi. Reverent relation to the genre of opera and self – criticality made the author to improve the music and libretto many times. The hard creative searches resulted in the birth of wonderful music. Along with the music, a recitative correspondent to specificity of the Uzbek language became a serious success of the composer.
Refusing a general standard of European recitative that was uncomfortable for the Uzbek language, the author aimed to more natural sounding of the speech itself. Considering a role of arias as a core of the opera, M. Burkhanov firmly leaned of melodic and structural foundations of the traditional Uzbek genre of ashula and so had been able to solve a task of creation of actually national intonations both in arias and in different vocal pieces of the opera. At the same time, he had taken into consideration the potentiality of chorus and symphonic orchestra. However, the staging of the opera could not overcome some dramaturgical shortages of the libretto. Its performance lost chiefly due to opera actors’ digression from requirements of the author and, first of all, digressions in a manner of singing. Emphatically national Uzbek grounds of arias, duets, different ensembles and chorus, which required to keep correspondent traditionalism, had become a sticking point for all soloists and vocal ensembles of the theatre.
Actually, if to exclude two-three soloists, in all over the theatre opera soloists, members of ensembles and chorus appeared not able to perform this opera in proper traditionally national Uzbek manner of singing. This reflected serious shortages laid in imperfect orientation of training of Uzbek opera singers and formation of local national troupe. Absence of proper opera singers in the theatre became a main reason by which the opera “Alisher Navoi” had soon exited. We hope that this synthesis will find proper performers-singers, which would be able to bring this work of M. Burkhanov in its new staging to the hearts of listeners.
With especial pride in the heart, we can note that works of Mutavakkil Burkhanov, no matter in what genre done, by their art properties, brightly expressed national originality and high spirituality obviously present a pearl not only in Uzbek, Tadjik or regional Central Asian musical heritage but equally in the world musical culture.
Author: Faizulla Karomatli