Khojaly 25 years on – a moving musical remembrance in the Land of the Gods
The month of February is always filled with sorrow in Azerbaijan, and amongst those around the world who support the rule of law and the sanctity of human life. This is because, 25 years ago, that month saw the single worst atrocity of the Armenian–Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. The Khojaly massacre took the lives of 613 civilians. The death toll included 106 women, 63 children and 70 elderly people.
The event on 2 March was held in Athens in the Megaron Concert Hall amidst the state-of-the-art Lillian Voudouri Great Music Library, and was organised by the Strasbourg office of The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) and the Azerbaijani Embassy to the Hellenic Republic, within the international Justice for Khojaly campaign, TEAS told APA.
It commemorated the victims of the Khojaly massacre, which occurred on 26 February 1992. The library is a fulcrum for music specialists and aficionados in Greece.
Throughout this evocative and emotional evening, the overwhelming sense was of loss and the umbilical connection of Khojaly, part of Nagorno-Karabakh, with Azerbaijani music. Many of the greatest Azerbaijani classical composers – all of whom combined the microtones of mugham with western classical music – were born or had familial connections to Nagorno-Karabakh. The father of Fikret Amirov was a khanende (mugham singer) from Shusha, Nagorno-Karabakh, and this was evident in his emotional Elegie, performed by the Rhein-Quartett, a chamber ensemble comprising musicians from across Europe.
The octogenarian Azerbaijani composer Khayyam Mirzazade graduated from Azerbaijan State Conservatoire in 1957, where he studied under Gara Garayev and thereafter continued to teach. From 1969–83, he was a manager of composition cathedra at Azerbaijan State Conservatoire. The work performed in Athens was a setting of the plaintive traditional song Berzeni.
Enrique Granados – himself a victim of the First World War – was a Spanish pianist and composer of classical music in a uniquely Spanish style. Composed in 1890, Orientale is one of the 12 pieces comprising his Danzas Españolas (Spanish Dances), and was particularly sublime and evocative.
The concert went on with a particularly emotive Azad Bir Qusudum composed by Afrasiyab Badalbeyli – whose parents were from Shusha – after a poem by Jafar Jabbarli.
The concert concluded with Pierre Thilloy’s Khojaly 613, a tone poem representing the horrors of that fateful night. This harnessed the power of violin, clarinet and string quartet to evoke the sounds of marching, screams and machine-gun fire, incorporating folk music themes to devastating effect, featuring Azerbaijani violinist Nazrin Rashidova, Latvian clarinettist Anna Gagane and the Rhein-Quartett. All audience members were given a CD of this outstanding contemporary work.
H.E. Rahman Mustafayev, Azerbaijani Ambassador to the Hellenic Republic, commented: “How could such a horrible crime as that perpetrated in Khojaly in February 1992 take place, yet never be recognised? The answer is simple – throughout the 20th century, the Armenian side has never taken responsibility for its crimes against the Azerbaijani people. Azerbaijan is striving to bring the truth about the Khojaly tragedy to the international community, and to secure political and legal assessments of this massacre from governments and parliaments around the world.
“We must be united in condemning this crime. This is of great importance, not only for the memory of the Azerbaijani citizens who were killed and brutally tortured, but also for the peoples of the world. It is extremely important that such tragedies should not be permitted to recur.
“We must also be united in the fight against the ideology of nationalism and national exclusiveness, because it is this ideology that serves as the breeding ground for terror, ethnic cleansing and military aggression, such as that facing Azerbaijan.
“Taking this opportunity, I urge you and, through you, the citizens and the parliament of the Hellenic Republic, not to stand apart from the international Justice for Khojaly campaign and to support it.
Ioannis Papagrigoriou, President, Hellenic Azerbaijani Youth Centre, remarked: “It has been an honour for us to participate in this international campaign to bring recognition of the need to achieve justice for the people in Khojaly who lost their lives 25 years ago. In Greece, we are very sensitive to this issue.”
Speaking before the audience of 150 politicians, VIPs and press representatives, Eliza Pieter, Head, TEAS Strasbourg, introduced TEAS to the audience and explained: “This event is designed to help us remember that man can be inhumane, and that war has terrible consequences. The concert performed tonight is an ode for peace between nations. It is not a cry for revenge; it is a cry for justice. It is in that spirit that I invite you to listen to the music – in the spirit of peace and justice.”
Pierre Thilloy, French composer of the tone poem Khojaly 613, took to the stage and explained the origins of his creation: “I have been travelling to Azerbaijan for the last 20 years, and when you do so, naturally you make friends. Friendship is about sharing your friend’s joys but also his sorrows, and that is why I felt compelled to compose about the tragedy of Khojaly. When I wrote this piece Khojaly 613, one can say I was like this dark bird flying over Khojaly on that fateful night in February 1992, and that bird saw everything and retold it through music.”
- 28.04.2017Elmar Mammadyarov commented on Foreign Ministers' Moscow meeting on Nagorno-Karabakh - EXCLUSIVE
- 28.04.2017Baku: Results of Moscow talks will be reported to presidents
- 28.04.2017Baku-born Armenian Erik Khachaturov visits office of Armenia-Azerbaijan Peace Platform
- 28.04.2017Russian, Azerbaijani, Armenian FMs discuss Karabakh conflict - STATEMENT
- 28.04.2017Azerbaijan to blacklist foreign musicians for illegally visiting Karabakh
- 27.04.2017Russian, Azerbaijani, Armenian FMs to meet behind closed doors
- 27.04.2017Azerbaijan: 179 unknown martyrs’ graves found in recent years
- 27.04.2017Azerbaijan says Armenia’s plan to hold int’l conference in Nagorno-Karabakh is another provocation
- 27.04.2017OSCE MG co-chairs to join meeting of Russian, Azerbaijani and Armenian FMs
- 27.04.2017Chair of Moldovan section of Int’l Human Rights Society joins Armenia-Azerbaijan Peace Platform
- 27.04.2017Italian ambassador: Karabakh conflict - region’s biggest problem
- 27.04.2017Florans Manjen: "Settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a priority for France"
- 26.04.2017Russia delivers a new batch of modern weapons and military equipment to Azerbaijan
- 26.04.2017FM Mammadyarov to join tripartite meeting in Moscow – Foreign Ministry
- 26.04.2017Co-chairs meet with full Minsk Group in Vienna
- 26.04.2017Moscow: Russian, Azerbaijani and Armenian FMs to meet on April 28
- 25.04.2017Armenian soldier killed in Nagorno-Karabakh
- 25.04.2017French presidential candidate vows to make ‘every effort’ to resolve Karabakh conflict
- 25.04.2017Lavrov: Moscow sees OSCE’s desire to help resolve Karabakh conflict
- 25.04.2017The Independent’s article distorts situation in region: Azerbaijani MFA
- 25.04.2017Azerbaijani army eliminates Armenian soldier who violated ceasefire
- 25.04.2017Hollande: No military solution to Karabakh conflict
- 24.04.2017‘Peace Ambassador’ of Armenia-Azerbaijan Peace Platform from Poland appointed
- 24.04.2017Foreign doctors to examine Azerbaijanis held hostage by Armenians: State Commission
- 23.04.2017Armenia breaks ceasefire with Azerbaijan 114 times
- 21.04.2017Armenia-Azerbaijan Peace Platform, NGO “The Caucasus Interface” agree upon cooperation
- 21.04.2017Russian, Azerbaijani and Armenian FMs likely to meet on April 27
- 20.04.2017Polish health worker joins Armenia-Azerbaijan Peace Platform
- 20.04.2017Kamran Imanov: To justify its territorial claims, Armenia continues appropriation of Azerbaijan’s cultural heritage
- 20.04.2017Azerbaijan pleased with stance of Muslim countries on Karabakh conflict – PA official
- 19.04.2017Russian, Azerbaijani and Armenian FMs may meet in Moscow
- 19.04.2017Associate Professor of Belarusian State University joins Armenia-Azerbaijan Peace Platform
- 18.04.2017Azerbaijan to blacklist foreign companies operating illegally in its occupied territories
- 18.04.2017Russian Orthodox Church comments on CMO’s Khojaly appeal
- 17.04.2017Chairman of Association for Polish-Azerbaijani Cooperation joins Armenia-Azerbaijan Peace Platform
- 17.04.2017Head of Israeli Research Center joins Armenia-Azerbaijan Peace Platform
- 16.04.2017Azerbaijan Defense Minister met with Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran
- 16.04.2017Armenia violates ceasefire with Azerbaijan 120 times
- 14.04.2017Grandson of Armenian Drama Theater founder joins Armenia-Azerbaijan Peace Platform
- 13.04.2017Moldovan political analyst joins Armenia-Azerbaijan Peace Platform
- 05.03.2017Armenia violates ceasefire with Azerbaijan 126 times
- 05.03.2017Rouhani: Karabakh conflict should be resolved through political means
- 06.03.2017Another social activist from Armenia joins Armenia-Azerbaijan Peace Platform
- 04.03.2017Azerbaijan opens criminal case against foreign companies illegally operating in occupied territories
- 04.03.2017Kyrgyzstan’s position at ECO summit misunderstanding: top Azerbaijani official
- 04.03.2017Top Azerbaijani official: Armenia’s frontline provocations – part of some insidious plans