Mustafo Bafoev

Oydyn Rakhimova Mustafo Bafoev: Features of His Art Merited artist of the Republic of Uzbekistan, composer and conductor Mustafo Bafoev is the author of major stage pieces, symphonies, oratories, ballets, chamber instrumental pieces, concerts and over 200 songs and romances. His art is characterized by great diversity of ideas and dramaturgical solutions. Using national artistic traditions as basis, he has substantially renewed the framework of centuries-old genres. For example, the «Omar Khayam» opera includes scenes of Navruz [the New Year] celebration, and «The Sky of My Love» opera, the first dedication to the scholar and astronomer Akhmad Al-Fargony, contains spectacular dancing elements. In his quire symphony No.5 titled «Kholati Alisher Navoiy» («Alisher Navoiy’s Fortune»), stage performance inspired by Navoiy’s poem «Lison ut-tayr» («The Language of Birds»), oratory-ballet «The Rituals of Zoroastrians» for elocutionist, quire and symphony orchestra, «Khoja Nasreddin and Karmensita in Bukhara» and in other pieces the composer restores ancient harmonies, ancient traditional rites. He creates new genres, such as television ballets «Nodira», «Ulugbek burji», and «Moziydan nur»; television dastan-opera «Bukhoroi Sharif» («Holy Bukhara»).

Of particular interest is the author’s cyclical piece consisting of eight parts titled «The Silk Road in My Imagination» for cello (solo), string quintet, percussions and piano, dedicated to the renowned Japanese violoncellist Yo-Yo-Ma who leads an active artistic life in the United States and gives concerts worldwide. According to Bafoev, the voluminous and saturated sound of a cello reminds of a soft and warm timbre of human voice. At the same time, this quality of a cello makes it akin to the sound of traditional Uzbek string-and-bow instruments (sato, kubiz) (1, p. 222).

The composer, glorifying sincere human feelings of friendship, makes great contribution to the cause of strengthening friendship among peoples. This piece was performed for the first time in 2003 during the international music festival «Ilkhom XX» held in Tashkent, by U. Imamov and chamber orchestra. Here, Bafoev thinks in categories of planetary scale and presents himself as global artist. Dialectically perceiving the culture of East and West through the prism of an individual insight into Uzbek music, Bafoev constructs the chain of common cultural links from the Far East to Asia Minor. To implement this idea of grand scale, the composer turns to the art of great Beethoven, quoting the theme of the «Ode to Joy» from his famous 9th Symphony. This theme for the Schiller’s ode «Embrace, millions! Be united in one joy!» is a kind of spiritual bequest Bethoven has left for the humankind.

In Bafoev’s «Silk Road…» performed in the 21st century the life-asserting theme of the great German 19th century composer brings the main idea and optimistic spirit of the piece to the ultimately precision.

In olden times, one of the «bridges» connecting cultures of different nations was the transcontinental Great Silk Road for caravans. The Silk Road represents not only the many centuries old history of Eastern and Western civilizations, but also international trade on a certain territory of Eurasia that was accompanied by the process of reciprocal influence and interaction of different cultures.

For Mustafo Bafoev, in his art as composer, the Great Silk Road serves as inexhaustible source for perceiving and understanding the cultural dialogue among world’s nations. Musical and dramaturgical concept of the piece is determined by traditional melodies and other oriental themes, which are naturally synthesized in the cycle. At the same time, an important dramaturgical load is borne by the «Ode to Joy» from Beethoven’s Symphony No.9.

A well-known Russian composer S. I. Taneev once remarked that if aliens appeared on our planet Earth and we had only one hour to give them an idea about mankind, the best way would be to play Beethoven’s 9th Symphony for them (2, p. 23).

From left to  right: performer from Turkey Bairam Bairam-ogly; M.Bofoev; conductor Z. Khaknazarov

The theme of «Friendship» invariably repeated almost in every part of the cycle, connecting the parts into one whole, functions as a kind of leitmotif in «The Silk Road in My Imagination»; it changes as the Caravan arrives in oriental countries (China, India, Iran, etc.), acquiring clearly oriental features. With the help of these small musical changes of intonation and colour, the Uzbek composer talks about brotherhood of all people in the planet, despite their national, linguistic, religious and other differences. In this piece, particularly in its final part, Beethoven’s melody sounds as hymn to joy and friendship.

In understanding the programme of the piece, an important role is played by another original musical guiding theme of the author, the «Caravan», which, being repeated frequently, acquires «alien» hues. Framing the entire piece, it seems to symbolize the rebirth and continuation of the Great Silk Road.

Mustafo Bafoev’s composition spans across the vast expanse of the Universe, spiritually uniting nations and cultures of East and West, where music is the symbol of peace, kindness and accord.

1. Бахман В. Происхождение, древняя история иммиграции лютни// Традиции музыкальных культур народов Ближнего, Среднего Востока и современность. М., 1987.
2. Фрушкин В. От Гайдна до Шостаковича. Л., 1970.

Oydyn Rakhimova