In Azerbaijan a rich school of accordion playing has formed, based on traditions of folk music. Among the founders of the national school of accordion are such well-known musicians as Latif Guseynogli (1876-1944), Abdulatip Yusifov (1884-1937), Alekper Nazarly (1882-1951), Ahad Aliev (1893-1942), Teyub Damirov (1908-1970), Mamedaga Agaev (1919-1982), Reza Shihlarov (1919-1992), Kyubrahanum Abilova (1921-1994), Adil Guseynov (1923-2008), Abbas Abbasov (1924-1997), Gyzhanum Dadasheva (1925-1967), Safarali Vezirov (1929-1982), Sattar Guseynov (1929-1981), Isfandiyar Djoshgun (1929-1991) and other talented masters, who had enriched the art of accordion and played an important role in the formation and further development of Azerbaijani performing arts.
The Azerbaijani art of accordion that has widely spread in the second half of the 20th century continues the path of its evolution. Just so, Zakir Mirza, having studied the art of accordion playing by Ahad Aliev, Teyuba Damirova and Mamedali Agaev, based on the folk traditions, further improved the Azerbaijani art of accordion. Already in the 1960s, he has become widely known among the Azeri people, creating his own style in the art of accordion playing. In the 1970s, this musician has mastered the highest skills of this art. Specific features of his artistic style, his virtuoso performing skills were highly appreciated by the government of Azerbaijan: in 2002, Zakir Mirza was awarded the honorary title of the Honored Artist of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
The national motives, the numerous dance tunes by Zakir Mirza, and the music by Azerbaijani and foreign composers in his performance were recorded for the National Radio Fund. They are being regularly aired and lovingly listened to by Azeri people. Z. Mirza was the first performer, who skillfully performed the classical pieces on the Azerbaijani accordion.
The world-renowned conductor, composer, the People’s Artist of the USSR, Maestro Niyazi (1912-1984) has named Zakir Mirza – “Paganini of the accordion”. By highly appreciating his art, Niyazi has become Zakir Mirza’s supporter in his journeys to the foreign countries. Zakir has justified his confidence. The performing art of the maestro caused a great interest and was warmly met in all countries, where the audience, thanks to him, has fell in love with the Azeri folk music and the art of accordion playing. Within the period of 1969-2007, Zakir Mirza in capacity of the accompanist and soloist in the framework of the delegation of the Azerbaijani masters of arts has participated in the concerts in the former USSR Republics, Holland, Nepal, India, Vietnam, Mali, Congo, Angola, Libya, Egypt, Morocco, Cambodia, Iran, Turkey and Austria, praising the Azeri accordion and pleasing the audiences with his magical art. His solo concerts in Iran were of particular significance. The first concert was held in 1993, in the Iranian capital, Tehran, in the Palace of Talar-Vahdat (The Palace of Unity). Permission to arrange a solo concert by the accordion player was given in Iran for the first time. The concert was extremely interesting and was followed by prolonged applause. This was an outstanding event in the cultural life of Iran. For the Azeri Turks, as well as for the Azerbaijani Turks of the South Azerbaijan the concert was a real feast. The concerts of Zakir Mirza had a great success not only in Tehran but also in the big concert halls of Tabriz and Isfahan. The Iranian press had broadly covered the concerts of Azerbaijani maestro, highly appreciating his unique art of playing the accordion.
Mugams take a great place in the creative repertoire of Z. Mirza. A huge force of emotional impact, has, for example, “Segah” (intermediate Segah), recorded for the Fund of the Azerbaijan Radio in 1970. “Segah” by Z. Mirza is characterized by improvisation, rich imagination, creativeness and perfect performing technique. He skillfully performs other mughams, including “Chahargah”, “Shahnaz”, “Mirza Guseyn”, “Humayun”, “Zamin-Hare” and “Bayati-Shiraz” that have been entered into the Fund of the Azerbaijan National Radio and are being regularly aired. In every mugham performed by Zakir Mirza there is a reflection of the history of our country, the wisdom of our ancestors, the invocation to honesty and vigilance addressed to the younger generation. “Mugam and Dance” is the result of creativity of then young Zakir Mirza that can be considered a masterpiece. The composer performed this work for the Radio Fund in 1966, and it became popular from the first time of its airing, made an important part of the concerts and folk festivals. “Mugam and Dance” expresses a personal world of Zakir Mirza, it is a new performance style. The musical piece “Mugam and Dance” is as a true jewel of art that forever makes part of the Treasury of Azerbaijani music.
Both from the philosophical point of view and from the viewpoint of this composition’s structure and performance skills, the music by Zakir Mirza is characterized by the amplitude, clarity and terms pertaining to the rules of the musical science of “Moderato” and “Allegro”. The composition represents the synthesis of “Segah” mugam and the dance melody according to the above mentioned scale, where the new content and idea amalgamating the impact on the listener of the Azerbaijani national music, focusing on the metrorhythmic basis of folk music.
The art of Zakir Mirza have always been appreciated by the well-known representatives of artistic intelligentsia, famous composers, eminent persons of art of Azerbaijan. The achievements of Zakir Mirza in the pedagogical sphere are worthy of note. Since 1999, he teaches classes on harmony in the Sumgayit College of Music, in the College of Music under the National Conservatory, and from 2006 – at the State University of Culture and Art. His students regularly participate in competitions and shows, achieving high results. The pupils of this master are successfully teaching in the music colleges and music schools for children in Azerbaijan.
Zakir Mirza paid special attention to the development of scientific foundation of the art of Azerbaijani accordion. In 2002, he defended his doctoral thesis on “The Role and Importance of the Accordion in the Folk Music of Azerbaijan”. In 2005, he has published a monograph “Azerbaijani Accordion”, in 2008 –“The School of Accordion Playing”. The program on “Mugam” (instrument – accordion) by Zakirmuallim was published in 2014. All the books of this outstanding master have been recommended for publication as manuals by the Ministry of Education of Azerbaijan.
Zakir Mirza is not only a performer of Azeri folk tunes, mugams and his own dance music, he is also a skillful accordion player and a true promoter of the music pieces created by Azerbaijani and foreign composers. The master skillfully plays accordion even as a part of the orchestra. As a soloist accompanied by the Symphony Orchestra of Azerbaijan, he skillfully performed a three-part symphonic composition by Tofiq Bakikhanov – the People’s Artist, professor and composer, awarded by the order of “Glory”. This piece was broadcasted on Azerbaijani television and was included into the Golden Fund of the National Radio.
Zakir Mirza is one of those artists who work productively. He built an indestructible, stable and stately building of the art of accordion, which took its rightful place in the space of instrumental music of Azerbaijan. Its foundation was laid by the representatives of Azeri people, whom Zakir Mirza belongs to. Among them are Seyid Gasan, Shirin Ahundov, Meshadi Melik Mansurov, Mamedtaghi, Kerbelayi Latif, Kerbelayi Abutalib Yusifov, Hadidja Musakhanova, Alekper Nazarli, Ahad Aliev, the following musicians have continued construction of the building – Yusif Yusifov, Teyub Damirov, Badal Badalov, Kamrabeyim, Sona Shushinskaya, Mamedaga Agaev, Kyubra Abilova, Gyzhanum Dadasheva, Abbas Abbasov, Reza Shihlarov, Isfandiyar Djoshgun, Vakhab Samedov, Mamedguseyn Salamov, Gadjibala Dadashev, Agaguseyn Mamedov, Safarali Vezirov, Mehti Valikhanov, Aflatun Agaev, Awtandil Israfilov and others. However, Zakir Mirza had the honor to build and give a majestic view to this palace, and he continues to work, full of creative inspiration and energy.
Keywords: School of accordion, the art of Zakir Mirza, the mugham, the dance tunes, “Mugham and Dance”, teaching and research work, musical pieces of composers, performance of symphonic music.