«I am married to music,
and my children are pieces I compose»
Suleiman Yudakov

S. Yudakov ‘At a regular Plenary meeting of the Union of Composers of Uzbekistan, musical authorities were making long but certainly important speeches, which, however, did not move anyone. But then a short, plump and agile man «rolled» up to the podium from the far end of the hall. His bold head was shining, matching the sparkle in his eyes, although he was not too old. Having stepped to the podium, Suleiman Yudakov started speaking without notes: his address was emotional, passionate and accompanied by enthusiastic gesticulation and exclamations. He was complaining about someone or something, getting increasingly carried away. In the heat of the moment the speaker’s eyes grew wide, his gaze fixed with a challenge; he raised his arms and exclaimed: «It made my hair rise!» The audience burst out laughing. Suleiman Alexandrovich fell silent, confused by the people’s reaction. At this moment one could see pain, sorrow and hurt in his eyes. The human drama of this big child suddenly became so apparent, as if his entire life came to the sight in that instant…’ (Memoirs of Afrida Khakimova, Professor of the State Conservatory of Uzbekistan).

Suleiman A. Yudakov is one of the most prominent representatives of the musical art of Uzbekistan. He is the laureate of the Hamza State Award, the Honoured Artist, the People’s Artist of Uzbekistan and the author of a truly immortal first Uzbek comic opera «The Pranks of Maysara» and a comic ballet «Nasreddin’s Mischief». His tunes open many local radio and television shows, such as «Uzbekistan, My Homeland», «The Carnival Waltz», «Lady-friends», etc. People know and love his sincere and open music. True is a saying that «An apple falls on the ground that has nourished it». The composer left behind a rich heritage and glorified Uzbek musical art far beyond his country. The fans of his talent can be found in Moscow, Ashgabat, Buenos Aires, Sofia, Lyon, Lodz, Gdynia, Bucharest, New Delhi, Cairo and other cities around the world.

Suleiman Yudakov and the Bolshoi Theatre solo Leocadia Maslennikova Suleiman Yudakov was born in Kokand. His entire life was the path of difficult challenges, relentless searching and great accomplishments in art. He was educated at the Kokand orphanage and eventually became a student of M. Gnesin and R. Gliere. Yudakov’s first creative attempts were approved by N. Myaskovsky, which was followed by his introduction to Shostakovich and Khachaturyan. And, finally, he is a classic of the 20th century Uzbek music, popular at home and recognized internationally.

His musical elements were the major key and the sun, humour and celebration. Many people found his optimism, kindness and his amazingly beautiful music magnetic.

‘I recall a number of funny, often comic experiences. Our delegation attended a football match, Tbilisi vs. Moscow, during live television broadcast from the pitch of Dinamo, the Tbilisi club. Yudakov, with his characteristic humour, warned the cameraman: «Please do not put me in the spotlight, or my bald head will glare». Still the camera caught him several times. And when the spotlight suddenly burned, Suleiman Alexandrovich commented: «I warned you not to focus the spotlight on me!» Members of the delegation could not help laughing. Ahmed Khamidovich Jabbarov, head of the delegation, was speaking on air at the moment, but he managed to keep his head and explain that the excitement was caused by the pressing attack of Dinamo’. (Rustam Abdullaev, Chairman of the Composers’ Union of Uzbekistan, the Honoured Artist of Uzbekistan, Laureate of the State Prize of Uzbekistan.)

Tukhtasin Gafurbekov, the Honored Artist of Uzbekistan, Professor of the State Conservatory of Uzbekistan, shared his story: ‘Sometime in early 1980s, at the Domodedovo airport, we, namely Yudakov, Jabbarov, Musaev and I, happened to be in the VIP lounge where we encountered a lady who was a very prominent leader of that time. Of our quartet, Solomon Alexandrovich was the first whom she recognized and invited us all to take her flight (that was going before ours). It would have been improper to refuse, and we, the distinguished maestro including, agreed. On board the plane we discovered that in the Tu-124 that was a huge aircraft in those days, with large seats the size of train banks, in one of which the distinguished lady was accommodated, we were offered the noisiest seats right above the propeller engines. And when this indescribable machine somehow managed to take off and began to climb, Yudakov, who appeared to be sleeping, suddenly jumped off his seat and in all seriousness started banging on the cockpit door. To an air hostess who came running, he said, «Stop the plane immediately! I’m afraid to fly it! I have no mother, no wife, no children, please stop, I’ll get off (!?)» When the cabin passengers resented and appealed to him with «Yudakov, kiligmingiz juda kup!», he finally got quiet, and said: «You have always been kidding me and never given me a chance to make a joke at least once up in the air!» And then he got back to his seat and instantly fell asleep.’

S. Yudakov and A. Khachaturyan Despite the fact that Yudakov’s life-path was pretty «bumpy», he overcame all its hardships and challenges it with honour and dignity. Moral strength, professional scruples and strong character — this is all him.

Mutal Burkhanov, the Honoured Artist, the People’s Artist of Uzbekistan, recalls: ‘Many people who knew Yudakov through art remember him as a prankster, a joker, a person who loved his audience, the typical oriental askiyachi. As his close friend, I recreate from memory the portrait of a colleague — it may come as a surprise portrait, so the more interesting… We both reached the peak of glory, were held in esteem, but, essentially, through all our life we have been lonely. Neither I, nor he had a family. Our closest «relatives» were our friends. In the last years of his life he did not like to stay at home alone. Three months after our closest friend Leviev passed away, I visited Suleiman in a hospital. Now I have this bitter memory of his sad presentiment: «Now our friend is gone, and I will follow». He was distressed that people had forgotten him. I tried to comfort him: «Stop it, stop winding yourself up». Suleiman was quiet for a while and then said softly: «Mutal, we both should have had children».’

It could be that people around him were charmed by his vivid personality of an artist, perceiving him as a jester and fun-lover. Or it could be that his kind and wonderful skill of cheering people up with purifying laughter was also his cross. However it may be, learning about Suleiman Yudakov and exploring the chart of his life, I discovered that there was something in his life that destined him to be misunderstood and lonesome.

He was easy-going and approachable, never taking a stance of an authority in musical composition. For many young composers and performing musicians he was like a godfather who supported them and showed them the way into the world of art.

‘Suleiman Yudakov is a remarkable man, cheerful, jovial and full of optimism. The first time I met him was in Moscow where I was graduating from a conservatory. As fellow countrymen, we talked a lot. He was older than me and once I asked him out of curiosity why he was not married. He had a great sense of humour and replied: «I am married to music, and my children are the pieces I compose.» At that time I thought it was funny, but today I find a special meaning in maestro’s words. I owe my popularity and my title of the People’s artist to his work and art. It was Yudakov’s music that enabled me to express myself and realize my potential’, recalls Saodat Kabulova, the People’s Artist of Uzbekistan, Professor of the State Conservatory.

There is no doubt that Yudakov is an unfaltering optimist, a man who dedicated all his life only to music. He belongs to the category of people who leave no one indifferent. He provokes extensive and excited arguments about himself, pro and contra; he triggers questions that lead to exploring the most profound truth. It would suffice to say that fame now associated with his name was hard-earned through efforts of a creator dedicated to his art.

Time is elusive, evanescent… All is extraordinary and unforgettable if there is memory still. Man lives for as long as he is remembered and as long as people remember his deeds. The more he has been able to accomplish in this world, the more valuable example he sets for us today. The Music of Suleiman Alexandrovich Yudakov still echoes in our hearts, it lives on the stages of theatres and concert halls, on radio and television… He devoted all of himself to one major purpose in life — to bring joy to people with his art. Yudakov dedicated his life to a noble cultural mission of educating his contemporaries. He used to say that family would have never let him accomplish all he intended to accomplish. And he had lots of ideas.

Tamara Sinelnikova