Kronos’ Fifty for the Future Composers

Franghiz Ali-Zadeh - Azerbaijan / Germany

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Program Notes

About Rǝqs, Ali-Zadeh writes:

Rǝqs means ‘dance’ in Azerbaijani as well as in all other Turkic languages. In Azerbaijan, many different dances have existed since time immemorial: for men and women, heroic and lyric, fast and slow. And the tradition of accompanying all important life events with all kinds of dances has been preserved to the present day: engagements and weddings, harvests and farewells, birthdays and even dates of death. There are also burial dances that accompany the farewell to the deceased person. In this respect, the dance tradition remains very strong and current in Azerbaijan today, especially in rural areas. In my new piece for the Kronos Quartet, I have attempted to reflect some of the rhythms and configurations of Azerbaijani dances."

Franghiz Ali-Zadeh's Reqs (Dance) was commissioned as part of the Kronos Performing Arts Association’s Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire, which is made possible by a group of adventurous partners, including Carnegie Hall and many others.

About Franghiz Ali-Zadeh

Franghiz Ali-Zadeh is one of the leading composers of our time, highly regarded for her creativity and distinctive style. Throughout her career, she has made a significant contribution to dialogue between cultures, promoting exchange and the mutual enrichment of the spiritual treasures of East and West. Her compositions draw from the vocabulary of modern European classical music and incorporate the sounds of mugham music traditional to Azerbaijan.

Ali-Zadeh was born in Azerbaijan in 1947. She studied the piano and composition at the Baku Conservatory, from which she graduated as a pianist in 1970 and as composer in 1972. In 1976 she began to teach musicology at the Baku Conservatory, where she has been professor of Contemporary Music and the History of Orchestral Styles since 1990.

She is one of the pioneers of “new music” in the former Soviet Union and Azerbaijan. As a pianist, she performs at international festivals, playing programs that include the works of the Second Viennese School, as well as works by Crumb, Messiaen, and Schoenberg, composers she has popularized for Eastern audiences. She is recognized as a master interpreter of works by 20th century European and American composers, the Soviet avant garde, and traditional Azerbaijani composers.

In 1976, Ali-Zadeh first introduced herself to a western audience at the Pesaro Music Festival with her composition Piano Sonata in memoriam Alban Berg. In 1999, she was the first female “Composer in Residence” to be invited to the Internationale Musikwochen in Lucerne. In 2000, she received a fellowship from Akademie der Kuenste in Berlin, where she has lived primarily since that time.

In 1980 Ali-Zadeh received the prize of the Azerbaijani Composers’ Union, and in 1990 she was named “Meritorious Artist” of the Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic. In November 2000 she received the honorary title of “People’s Artist of the Republic of Azerbaijan” and was named “UNESCO Artist for Peace” in 2008. Franghiz Ali-Zadeh has been awarded many national honors by the Republic of Azerbaijan, including the Order of Glory in 2007, the Ugur award (“award of success”) in 2009, and the Zirve award (“top prize”) in 2011.

Ali-Zadeh’s catalogue of works includes solo, chamber, ensemble, and orchestral music. Ensembles and orchestras throughout the world play her music with enthusiasm. In a unique way, Ali-Zadeh succeeds in blending the musical traditions of her homeland with modern western compositional techniques. Her music is performed at festivals internationally. Numerous works of Ali-Zadeh have served as ballet music (in Helsinki, New York, Berlin, Singapore, and London).

Ali-Zadeh has written three pieces for the Kronos Quartet, Mugam Sayagi (1993), Oasis (1998), and Aspheron Quintet (2001), all recorded on an album of her music released by Kronos in 2005.

Interpreters such as Mstislav Rostropovich, Yo-Yo Ma, Evelyn Glennie, Ivan Monighetti, David Geringas, Julius Berger, Wu Man, Alexander Ivashkin, Alim Qasimov, Vladimir Tonkha, Elsbeth Moser, and many others have all performed her music. Most recently, violinist Hilary Hahn performed her piece Impulse on her world tour and recorded it on her Grammy-nominated album 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores.

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