HER STORY: Elsa Ibrahimova

Story of the most modest, closed and talented woman of the musical world of Azerbaijan.

10 January 2018, 2017 marks the 80 anniversary of the birth of one of the most beloved people composers - Elza Ibrahimova. There is no such person in Azerbaijan, regardless of age, who would not sing any melody from her numerous works. Already during composer's lifetime they were called folk music, which is a kind of talent factor. 

...The father of Sona Khanum Ibrahim (mother of Elza Khanum) Vagab in the early 20th century was in the close protection of King Nicholas II in Dagestan. The great-grandfather of Elsa by his father Ibrahim was a wealthy merchant, making frequent trips from Dagestan to Baku. His son Atlukhan (Elza's grandfather) was born in Baku (Balajari) in 1865, led locksmith workshops at Balajari locomotive depot and taught metalwork. In 1903 in Balajari he had a son Imameddin Ibragimov - the father of Elza khanum. The mother of the girl Sona Khanum graduated in 1928-30s from obstetric courses in Leningrad and ended up in Baku with relatives. This is where she met her future husband Imameddin. At that time he was already the head of the locomotive depot of Divichi station, and later chaired the most responsible areas on the railway transport of Azerbaijan.

In November, 1943 Head of Balajari Locomotive Depot, Colonel of traction (rank of railway workers during wartime) Ibrahimov Imameddin Atluhanovich was sent with a team of drivers to Derbent to carry out the most important state task: it was necessary to meet a littered train in Derbent, in which the Head of State I.V. Stalin followed, and escort him to Baku. In Derbent, a littered train was bonded with a steam locomotive of the Azerbaijan Railway. Supervision of drivers was carried out by Ibragimov Imameddin. The littered train with I.V. Stalin and the all generals of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Union arrived in Baku without incident for departure to Tehran for the famous Tehran conference held from 28 November to 1 December 1943.

Sona hanum, having already been married, entered Azerbaijan State Medical Institute (1942-48) and received a specialty of obstetrician-gynecologist. She worked all her life at the railway hospital № 1 in Baku. I.A. Ibrahimov in 1941-45 was a participant of the Great Patriotic War. In 1941-43, he was seconded to Tabriz, where he served as Colonel Director of Railway Transport, Head of the Military Department ВЭО-17 then existing 47th Soviet Army stationed in Tabriz. He was awarded the highest government award – the Order of Lenin and the Order of the Red Banner of Labor, the Order of Honor and other medals. 

Since the father was a railway worker, the family had to move from place to place. Tbilisi, Tabriz, Tehran... Eldest daughter Leila was born in Tbilisi, Elza was born in Ajikabul, and their only brother was born in Baku. 

The musical gift woke up in Elza early. She didn't have to think too much who to become. The family loved music very much and, having noticed in the little girl interest in art, in every way began to encourage it. From childhood little Elsa was listening folk music and especially loved mugham. Her parents assigned her to music school No. 8. There was no piano at home, and she went to study at her neighbors. And finally Dad bought a piano – old, German, of the XVIII century. It was sold by Germans who lived in Sumgayit. As a precious relic on which E. Ibragimova began to compose, it is still kept in her house. Music School No. 8, Music College named after A. Zeynalli (composition class of Boris Yermolayev, a talented teacher who first noticed the creative talent of the girl and told her to compose music) and, finally, Azerbaijan State Conservatory named after Uzeyir Hajibekov, where she studied composition with Qara Qarayev. Can there be more happiness for a musician than being a student of a great composer? Every time he asked students to compose part of the piece, Elza brought a whole finished piece. Not everyone could overcome the difficult science of composition and study till the end. But Elza didn't have trouble with it.

Her triumph came from the very first song. On April 16, 1969, "Yalan ha deyil" was broadcast for the first time to the words of the folk poet Mamed Rahim. Further "Gecə bulaq başında" on B. Vagabzade's words, "Sən bir nəğmə, mən bir nəğmə" on words Y. Hasanbek and hundreds more of other songs. They were performed by the best singers of Azerbaijan, corifees. The songs became a golden classic of Azerbaijani variety. One day Elza khanum was approached by B.Vagabzadeh: "How were you able, being Russian-speaking, to feel my poems so subtly, so deeply, that even I couldn't?" Elza khanum responded with a half-smile. She's always been discreet, concise. And to the questions asked her she answered briefly, without unnecessary emotions.

Melodies were born in her almost immediately, entirely, and she only put them to notes. And she could do it even without a piano, sitting at the table, so absolute was her musical hearing. How many emotions, feelings, passion raged in this calm, restrained, modest, simple person! «Bilməzdim», «Sən yadıma düşəndə», «O gözlər», «Gəl barışaq»… The list goes on. And the first Azerbaijani tango belongs to the hand of Elza Ibrahimova - "Bu bağçadan keçmisən", in 1972 another tango "Qurban verrdim" was written. For a long time they were not allowed to perform by censorship, because tango was a genre of bourgeois culture. 

But E.Ibrahimova is famous not only by lyrical songs. In her creative baggage there are numerous works of different musical genre. And the top of the composer's creativity was opera. She is the author of two operas – "Afət" on H.Javid's same name play oand "Yanan laylalar" on R.Heydar's libretto. The third – "Şeyx Şamil" was started, but the composer could not finish it... Like that in this fragile, remarkably gifted woman huge dilligence was combined with modesty and simplicity. 

...One of her artistic peaks was the song "Ey Vətən" (lyrics by Aslan Abdullayev). In the performance of Rashid Behbutov it flew around the whole world, becoming the signature song of the land of fire. Under its sound was buried the legendary singer. One of the author's most patriotic works has served Azerbaijan for more than 50 years and will serve forever. This song represents all the love and loyalty of the composer to Azerbaijan, her multinational homeland, which reciprocated her...

We express our gratitude to Elza khanum's brother Chingiz Ibrahimov for the support in creating the material.

Текст: Арзу Джаид