Three years ago, 29th April, 2006, we have celebrated 100 years of Ahmet Kuanovich Zhubanov, of an outstanding figure of Kazakh musical culture, the academician of the National Academy of sciences, the well-known composer, the researcher of the Kazakh folk music who stood at sources of professional music education and a science in Kazakhstan were executed, were the organizer, the first head and conductor of the State academic orchestra of the Kazakh national instruments after Kurmangazy, which is well-known nowadays, the first head of the Kazakh national conservatory after Kurmangazy, had entered into number of the first academicians-founders of the National Academy of sciences.
Ahmet Zhubanov (1906-1968) was born on April, 29th, 1906 in the West of the Republic of Kazakhstan - the Euroasian state, occupying huge territory, equal to 5 territories of France and located on Asian and, partially, European continents. In the north it borders with Russia, in the south with Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in the southwest with Turkmenistan, in the east with Russia and China. In the West the territory of Kazakhstan adjoins to Caspian Sea. A huge part of Kazakhstan the steppes, representing boundless open spaces, where in the feudal past Kazakhs lived, being united in territorial units “auls”, due to cultivation of livestock - rams, horses, camels, who served as food (meat), and as clothes (wool), and as dwelling of Kazakhs - yurts, representing itself an oval premise, made felt from the sheep wool and possessing excellent heat isolation properties. Walls of yurts were decorated with an ornament from color slices of felt. In the contents of an ornament prevailed round forms reminding horns of animals, flowers and leaves of plants. As for the maintenance of livestock rich pastures were always necessary, Kazakhs wandered on steppe the whole auls.
Now Kazakhstan is the sovereign country, there are well-known cosmodrome “Baikonyr”, famous for the records high-mountainous ice stadium “Medeo”, rich deposits of oil (Near-Caspian region), nonferrous metals, gold, coal (East Kazakhstan). Significant territories are occupied by grain crops and cotton.
The musical culture of Kazakhs since olden days was famous for the composers and performers. Perhaps, boundless steppe spaces and a nomadic way of life promoted distribution and riches of sounds, result of that became creation of wonderful steppe performances. The legend (from the words of great educator Chokan Valikhanov) about an origin of unusual musical abilities of Kazakhs is known: «the Heavenly song soared above the ground. And where it fell below - there it heard and perceived by people, where rose - people of that country did not hear it and has not learned to sing. Above the Kazakh steppe divine song fell low, Kazakh people has heard it, has apprehended and has learned to sing. That is why they sing so magnificently».
The most widespread musical instrument of the Kazakh steppe is two-string played by plucking dombra - which advantage was that there was not necessity of a special material and tools, and it was not difficult to play on it as sitting, and as standing, and so on a horse.
The richest in sense of a sound palette is kobyz, the two-string instrument made by battering of an integral tree. Top deck of kobyz was fitted by the camel skin, and as strings the bunch of horsehair stretched. It was played by the right hand with the help of fiddlestick, which looks like a bowstring of a bow. As the left hand does not press a string to a deck but only touches it, the instrument emits the original sound similar to a human voice. Distribution of kobyz has been limited by difficulty of its manufacturing and with some difficulties with playing on it, but its special sound was often used by national sorcerers “baksy” at carrying out of spiritualistic sessions.
Kazakhs created also wooden- wind instruments. For example, sybyzgy, having 6 apertures on one side and one - octava - on the opposite side. At blowing air, performer emits with voice a light sound, therefore the soft rumble is heard; horseshoe shankobyz having a metal horseshoe on the middle, is jingling at contact with fingers. The height of its sound is regulated by motion of lips - by articulation.
More freely and most widely than other Kazakh steppe instruments sounds a silver voice of dombra – unpretentious companion of nomads, with original and sonorous history of nomad tribes. Its strings keep musical wisdom of centuries, for it the anonymous steppe composers who had not known the notes created the immortal pieces of music, embodying in them alive life of their people.
Their compositions for national instruments Kazakhs name «kui». The linguistic research of an origin of this word made by the largest philologist Kudaibergen Zhubanov (elder brother of Ahmet Zhubanov), testifies that it was known in nomadic steppe since XIV centuries. Some turk-lingual people gave the name «kui» also for instrumental, and song music. In musical culture of Kazakhs “kui” is not only program performance, in which in the musical form historical events and the author’s relation to them were reflected, but also great and important area of spiritual culture of Kazakhs.
What themes were mentioned in the Kazakh music? As well as all people, Kazakhs sang of love - love to mother, to girl (young man), to people, and to the Native land. There were kuis - legends. For example, “Lame Koulan” in which musical language opens the content of the legend narrating about old events: the unique son of khan Dzhuchi has been killed on hunting by lame koulan (a strong steppe stallion), which was hit by him. The khan suspecting wrong, but not wanted to hear about this, has announced that a throat of the person who would bring, news about khan’s son, will be filled in by lead. Nobody has dared to come to khan, till the appearance of kuishi. Having listened played by him kui, khan has understood all. In horror from death of the son and in anger on dombra, which told the truth, he has commanded to fill in the interior of dombra with lead. Among the kuis is also march music (“Perovskiy’s March “ S. Kurmangazy performed at ball in the house of general-governor Perovskiy), and tragically-pathos, such, as kui “Zhiger” Dauletkerei, about which Alexander Zataevich wrote: “I think, that any musician, having familiarized with wonderful music, should understand, what in the present case was charged to modest dombra and in its limited means was laid the music of absolutely exclusive depth, pathos and relevancy”.
As the musical notation was not familiar to Kazakhs, kuis and songs were transmitted through performers-improvisators, i.e. the eternal life was received only with that musical heritage of steppe which has passed through the filter of history. Solitary musical records of the Kazakh music are dated by the middle of XIX century. At the end of 19-th century there was a work “Kazakh music” (in German language) of the musicologist A. Ejhgorn, who recorded and has grown fond of Kazakhs songs and kuis. This is the first scientific research of the Kazakh music. In 20-s of XX century musician-ethnographer Alexander Zataevich, who was inspired with love to the Kazakh music, has recorded more than 2 thousand of songs and kuis, has published two invaluable collections: “500 songs and kuis of Kazakh people” and “1000 songs of Kazakh people”, has made a processing of some songs for a piano, wrote a note about national composers. At the same years legendary singer Amre Kashaubayev, who had acted with triumph in 1925 on the World’s fair in Paris, and in 1927 - at the International musical exhibition in Frankfurt am Main, for the first time has acquainted Europeans with musical culture of Kazakh people.
In 30th at 8 walls of the Leningrad conservatory after Rimskiy Korsakov, a student Ahmet Zhubanov, who at that time considered that the most important purpose of the life is acquaintance of mankind with the richest music of his people, was studying. The meeting with A.V. Zataevich in Moscow, on which the well-known ethnographer has expressed huge pleasure for that the work to which he has devoted the life, will be continued, has proved Ahmet’s decision.
Having arrived in a Alma-Ata and having proceed to the responsibilities of the head of studies at the first musical technical school, he has created a folklore cabinet for carrying out of forwarding works on record of national songs and kuis and for their processing, and also for searching of talented youth, a workshop on improvement of the Kazakh national instruments and has started realization of the main dream - to creation of an orchestra of national instruments.
In order to make the collective of talented musicians, each of which was the magnificent performer, but thus did not know a musical notation, could play synchronously, the 26-years old maestro should feel a musical soul of people, to possess huge patience, persistence and organizing abilities. In fact, each virtuoso performed kuis, by his opinion, in the most correct interpretation differing on tempo, duration, nuances, etc. Nevertheless, Ahmet Zhubanov managed to create an orchestra which in 1936 with triumph has appeared on the stage of the Big Theatre of the USSR at a final concert of decade of the Kazakh art in Moscow. Now, created by A. Zhubanov the state academic orchestra of the Kazakh national instruments after Kurmangazy, with success performs in the various countries. In its repertoire there is not only Kazakh, but also classical music of the European composers.
Acquaintance with the music of composers leads to necessity of acquaintance to their personality. Ahmet Zhubanov’s huge scientific contribution not only in Kazakh, but also in world culture became his monography “Life and art of the Kazakh national composers” (1942), in which author - encyclopaedically educated person, the musician with scientific mentality on the basis of studying and the analysis of the materials, taken at studying of archives of Leningrad, Kazan, Orenburg, etc., forwarding materials of Russian researchers of the 18-19 centuries and own researches could present an extensive material about steppe musical culture, about existence of unique musical instruments – dombra, kobyz, sybyzgy, etc., about the new music form – kui- which became “a card” of the music of Kazakh people, and also to acquaint the world with the greatest composers of the Kazakh steppe - Kurmangazy, Dauletkerei, Dina, etc., with akyns and singers Akhan-sere, Birzhan-sal, Abai, etc., compositions and art potential of them became known to us, owing to many generations of the masterly performing musicians, who handed down well-known compositions to the descendants. Subsequently, musical themes of their compositions have received new interpretation in operas, symphonies and chamber compositions of modern composers.
A. Zhubanov for this scientific work has been given a scientific degree of the doctor of fine art, then the professor, and in 1946 he, among the academicians-founders stood at sources of the National Academy of sciences. He headed a department of music in Academy, worked much, and wrote books and articles, prepared for new generation of scientific researchers of the Kazakh music. In the history of National Academy he has remained as the unique academician of the fine art.
Undoubtedly, that for the development of the Kazakh professional music, there is necessity to have professionally formed staff. At the beginning of 1945 in Alma-Ata was created a conservatory which director since December, 1945 had became, Ahmet Zhubanov. Its formation, professional growth and teachers, and students of all faculties (the theory and history of music, a piano, string and national instruments, a composition, etc.) is a attainment of his activity. Special achievement was that the level of preparation of students on a specialty “Kazakh national instruments” has risen on a high professional level, alongside with studying special disciplines; it included commonly-professional and is musically-theoretical subjects. Graduates of the conservatory perform in solo concerts on various stages of the Republic and abroad, they play in various orchestras of national instruments, teach at musical schools, colleges and high schools. It means that dombra, kobyz, sybyzgy, and etc. together with the Kazakh music have formed the niche in the world of musical culture.
But, as specificity of ensembles and orchestras of the Kazakh national instruments demanded for their organization and functioning of presence of the conductors well knowing and feeling a folk music, there was a new task - preparation of the conductor’s staff. Ahmet Zhubanov has opened own class of conducting which graduates became organizers and leading conductors of new orchestras, and not only national instruments. So, one of its most talented pupils - Fuat Mansurov already more than 40 years are the conductor of the Big theatre in Moscow.
Ahmet Zhubanov, certainly, understood, that musical development of talented youth is necessary for beginning with the childhood. In many cities of Kazakhstan musical schools, certainly, were, but in them the city youth was studied. Meanwhile, in the Kazakh auls children from a cradle hear fine music of national songs and kuis, therefore many of them become fine performers and improvisators. Knowing it, Ahmet Kuanovich always lifted a question on necessity of the creation of special musical schools for children from villages and auls and in 1964 in Alma-Ata the musical school for talented children where training both on general educational, and under the musical program has been opened, and the main thing, pupils are provided both with accommodation and food.
Now many pupils and graduates of the Republican specialized Kazakh musical school for the talented children after Ahmet Zhubanov, crossed a 40-years boundary, are winners of prestigious musical competitions in Kazakhstan and abroad, become students of high musical schools and represent art of Kazakh people at all levels.
Ahmet Zhubanov - not only the researcher of a folk music, the organizer of the first orchestra of national instruments in Kazakhstan, Alma-Ata state conservatory, special musical school and the National Academy of sciences, he is well-known composer. He wrote 3 operas - “Abai” and “Tolegen Tokhtarov” (in the co-authorship with Latiff Khamidi), “Kurmangazy” (in the co-authorship with daughter, the largest composer of Kazakhstan, the graduate of Moscow conservatory – Gaziza Zhubanova), music to films, musical plays for a piano and string instruments, romances and songs, kuis for dombra. The great friendship connected him with outstanding Kazakh scientists and writers - K.I. Satpaev, M.O. Auezov, etc. Greatest Kazakh writer Muhtar Auezov was the author of the libretto of two operas - “Abai” and “Tolegen Tokhtarov”. The opera “Abai” which premiere took place at the end of 1944, during more than 60 years opens seasons at the State Academic theatre of an opera and ballet after Abai. In December, 1958 during a Decade of the Kazakh art it has sounded on a stage of the Big theatre (Moscow).
Wreath of his opera creativity is the opera “Kurmangazy”. To write an opera about the favorite composer, the heroic person was his dream of all life. Prepared for sketches of the libretto, musical performances, but opera were finished by his daughter – G.A. Zhubanova (premiere took place in January, 1987).
Music is international and eternal inherently and because it is clear all. So, Ahmet Zhubanov’s chamber compositions sound in various concert halls. He wrote 10 Tadjik and 6 Kazakh dances for a piano, which are performed at many International competitions. There are their transpositions for various orchestras. The destiny of his plays “Spring”, “Romance” and the “Waltz”, written for kobyz is interesting. Their melody, both lyricism have not left indifferent as violinists, and also violoncellists, they already sounds in their performance for many years. Time is not subject above his vocal compositions. The song written more than 60 years ago “Karlygash” (Swallow) have received a new life in modern interpretation of ensemble “Dauys International” and became its visit card, and the song “Ak kogershin” (White pigeon), for the first time sounded in those days when great Picasso has written the well-known picture about the pigeon of the world, is now performed by prima of Kazakh stage Nagima Yeskalieva.
Ahmet Zhubanov’s creativity has continuation in his descendants and favorite pupils. A bright star on the Olympus of composers of Kazakhstan was his daughter - outstanding composer Gaziza Zhubanova (1927 - 1993), the author of many operas, ballets, symphonies, music to films and drama performances, cantatas and chamber music. Her opera “Over us Moscow” was staged some seasons of Moscow musical theatre after Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko. In third generation of Zhubanov’s there are a composer, a lot of pianists and violinists, in the fourth - too there are musicians, but the greatest successes was achieved by young maestro Alan Buribaev - the main conductor of opera theatre in Minegeme (Germany), performed on concerts with world famous orchestras practically on all continents.
Ahmet Zhubanov’s scientific talent has found its continuation, but in other sciences. His sons – well-known scientists in Kazakhstan - chemists are academicians of National academy: Boulat Akhmetovich - the founder of school of chemistry of the polymers, and Kair Akhmetovich - carries out researches in the field of chemical catalysis. The daughter – Azhar Akhmetovna is academician of Kazakhstan National academy of natural science, Doctor of Biological Sciences, the professor, a circle of her scientific interests - biotechnology and ecology of microorganisms.
Ahmet Zhubanov’s many-sided and laborious activity had the great purpose - to make magnificent music of the Kazakh steppes, fine Kazakh national musical instruments property of all civilized world. Today, in a year of the 100 anniversary, he, who has acquainted mankind with musical soul of people, itself, became possession of world culture.