Lezghin Star of Madrid
Interview with Karina Azizova, telented Lezghin pianist
Welcome to the native land and thank you for the
opportunity to talk to you. Please tell us about yourself.
I was born in
Ashkhabad, Turkmenistan, where I studied music since early childhood, since I
started to attend kindergarten. Later I continued my education in primary
school for gifted children. After five years at that school I was sent to study
music to Moscow as my teachers thought that I escalated the level of the school
in Ashkhabad. You know that the highest level of music education in Moscow and
Saint Petersburg is recognized worldwide.
Thus at the age
of 12 years old I found myself in Moscow and continued my music education in a
school affiliated with the Chaikovsky State Conservatory to where the most
gifted children from all the republics of the former Soviet Union came to study
music. I am very thankful to my parents for allowing me to come to Moscow. It
was not typical, particularly for Lezghin families, to allow girls to live
apart from their families. But my parents, having special reverence for art and
respect to my musical abilities and passionate desire to study music, after
long considerations took the decision to allow me to go to Moscow. And, as it
turned out, they were absolutely right.
Did your parents study music as well?
No, they did
not. I am the only one in the family who did. No more music talents in the
family. But I was lucky to have understanding parents who let me go to the most
prestigious center of musical culture where I got in the classes of famous
pianists Victor Bunin at the Moscow music school and Lev Naumov at the
Was it difficult for you to live all alone in Moscow
since the age of 12, far from your family?
Of course it
took some time to get used to the new life in Moscow. I missed my family. But I
always knew that music is everything in my life, it is my guiding star.
Did you know
that music is the sense of your life since so early childhood?
Absolutely! I knew about it when I was six years old when in my kindergarten I saw as our music teacher was playing the piano while we were dancing. I then were shorter than the keys on the piano and looked up fascinated by the fluttering hands of the pianist. The eyes of the child saw a real miracle – when touching white and black keys the teacher generated enchanting sounds of beautiful melodies. And I wished so much to be involved into this magic process. First my parents bought me a baby piano and then later, when I was 7 years old, a real piano and then I started to study music seriously.
My first award I
received when I was 15 years old in Raguza, Italy, at the International Music
Contest, then, a year later, in Ostun, Italy. We toured the USA and other countries
with concerts. I liked travelling as it enriched me with new impressions and
Karina, how did you get in Spain?
After six years
of classes with Lev Naumov I graduated from the Conservatory and by that time
the situation in Russia changed for the worst for musicians who played classic
music. Many of them emigrated to other countries in the end of the 90s and
beginning of 2000s. They were leaving for Europe and the USA. At that time I
happened to be at an audition arranged by Spanish conductor Victor Pablo and
the next day I was offered a contract. That’s how I got to Spain.
I like Spain,
its warm climate is good for the mood. I am a quick learner so I am fluent in
Spanish and can already be taken for a native resident.
very good conditions for classic music. Despite the crisis the budgets provided
for its development were not cut and there are a lot of classic music concerts
organized throughout the country.
I have regular
concerts at the Madrid National Auditorium, the Palace of Catalonian Music in
Barcelona, the Monumental Theatre, the Palace of Festivals in Santander, the
Theatre of Rosalia de Castro in La Corunier etc..
At the concerts
I perform music of Rakhmaninov, Prokofyev, Stravinski, Brums and other masters.
Whose music do you prefer?
romantic trend in the Russian and European music, though I also play music of
modern composers. I am close in spirit to Rakhmaninov, Skryabin, Shuman and
Brums. Rakhmaninov is particularly dear to me. When I play his music I feel
like his spirit settles in me. May be it is because he himself was a pianist
his musical masterpieces disclose piano sounds in the entire palette of
Do you like listening ethnic Lezghin music? May be
some folklore melodies could be included into your concert programme?
I listen to
Lezghin music mainly at our Lezghin weddings. I enjoy various types of music.
It could be Sting or Led Zeppelin. But definitely I prefer classic music to all
the other musical trends.
As to classic music of the Caucasus, I used to play music of Adyg composer Gyssa Chicha, and a composer from the North Ossetia Tamerlan Khosroev. I play Lezghin music mainly for myself and my family.
The idea to
include ethnic music into my concert programme seems very interesting. I have
never thought of it before. But I can try to do it in the future. I can think
of Gotfrid Gasanov, who is a famous Daghestani composer, the creator of the
Daghesatni opera and at the same time he is an ethnic Lezghin. He used ethnic
melodies for his classic music masterpieces thus demonstrating that fact that
classic music can very well be combined with ethnic music. I would like to
perform Gasanov’s music and may be even dedicate to it one of my concerts.
music of my people is always in my blood and it will stay in me wherever I am.
Can I ask you one more question now not related to
music? Have you ever been in your native land? In Lezghistan?
I was in my
native land only as a child, in the Ismailinsky region of Azerbaijan, the
villages of Kalajukh and Rushan. I travelled there from Turkmenia every year
with my parents and spent a month or so in completely Lezghin environment.
Thanks to these voyages I know my native language quite well and even now I can
understand everything and even speak Lezghin. My parents also spoke Lezghin at
home. But I have been out of practice for so long that started to forget it. I
have not been in my native land since I left for Moscow and it is very sad. And
I have never been to Dagestan.
Do they know
anything about Lezghins in Europe? Are they surprised to learn about your ethic
It is very
difficult to explain to the majority of the Europeans how many identities I
have. I am from Russia but was born in Turkmenia. I have dual citizenship –
Russian and Turkmen. But I am neither Russian nor Turkmen. My parents are from
Azerbaijan but I am an ethnic Lezghin. When I try to explain all this to the Europeans
they understand absolutely nothing. They are used to identify people by their
citizenship. If you have Russian passport it means for them that you are
Russian. Very few people know that Lezghins are divided between Russia and
Azerbaijan. As far as I know the FLNCA’s website is the only one that publish
information in English about Lezghins, thus making it accessible for all
Europeans and other people worldwide. Moreover I have recently learnt that the
FLNCA is active at the international arena and I was very pleased to know about
it. It means that more people worldwide will be aware of our people’s history
and the contemporary problems they face.
Being abroad do you feel the ownership of life and the
aspirations of the Lezghin people?
No doubt I feel
part of my people, I am happy to have a command of my native language because
language is a very important part of any ethnic culture. It has, I believe,
some historical code.
belonging is first of all realized through my close ties with my family. I
often visit my parents and other relatives in Turkmenia where we all get together.
And through this family atmosphere I feel that I belong to a bigger Lezghin
family and it is invaluable for me.
And one more
thing to mention here. It is our famous dance "Lezghinka” that made us known
far beyond the borders of our native land. Many famous composers, such as
Glynka and Hachaturyan, used this dance melody in their music. This dance music
reflects the character of my people – their courage, passion, energy and
manliness. When I hear the first sounds of Lezghinka some unbridled energy
wakes up in me. It is the moment when I more than ever
feel myself Lezghin.
Thanks a lot for the interesting and detailed conversation. We hope to see you one day in the Lezghin land playing piano at a concert. It will encourage talented Lezghin children to dedicate themselves to the high art of music.