The Azerbaijani Mugham is a traditional musical form, characterized by a large degree of improvisation.
Mugham is normally performed by three musicians – tar player, kamancha player and a singer – khanande, who leads the main theme decorating it with improvisations and emotional shades. For the Azerbaijani people, mugham is music, philosophy and a kind of meditation, which helps to uncover spiritual bases in people, having a healing effect on the soul and mind and forming a cosmism of thinking and everything that laid the basis of multiculturalism – the modern progressive policy of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
For world-renowned Azerbaijani mugham singer Alim Gasimov, this traditional music is “food for the spirit.” “Mugham is something sent from God,” Alim explains. “It was created together with humanity. You can’t create it anew.” The name of this bright performer of Azerbaijani mugham has long become a common name, and his talent is a calling card of our country far beyond its borders. He is a well-known Azerbaijani khanande, a member of the international assembly of rare voices, whose name is on the posters of the best concert salons of the world – from Washington to Cape Town, from Samarkand to London. Alim Qasimov was included in the list of the most influential Muslims of the world, he was awarded with numerous titles and awards, including the UNESCO International Music Prize.
UNESCO was actively involved in the popularization of Mugham in the 1970s. Under its auspices, the first international symposiums and festivals of traditional music were held in Moscow in 1971, in Alma-Ata in 1973 and in Samarkand in 1978 and 1983. Mugham became widely known not only in Europe but also in the USA, Canada, Japan and other countries.
In 2003, Azerbaijani Mugham was proclaimed as a masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity ensuring that this captivating and unique art will continue to inspire musicians and listeners the world over. In 2008, Azerbaijani Mugham was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
On 27 December 2008, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and Former UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura opened the International Mugham Center in Baku and in March 2009, it hosted the First International World of Mugham Festival, which was organized on the initiative of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. Today, these biannual festivals are attracting more and more admirers of this ancient art of music.