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Seyid Şuşunski

Seyid Şuşunski Seyid Shushinski (Azerbaijani: Seyid Şuşinski), born Mir Mohsun Seyid Ibrahim oglu Shushinski (12 April 1889, Horadiz – 1 November 1965, Baku), was a prominent Azerbaijani folk singer (khananda). After Jabbar Karyagdy (Cabbar Qaryağdıoğlu) he played the most important role in the formation of contemporary Azeri folk and mugam performance. He brought many new elements and forms to mugams and did significant work for the development of the art of mugam.

Shushinski was born in the small town of Horadiz, near present-day Fizuli, Karabakh, Azerbaijan, but his life and works were always associated with Shusha, which explains the surname he took for himself. He lost his father at a young age, and was looked after by his aunt Meshadi Khurzad who was a folk singer. Shushinski received primary education at a religious school in his home town. Due to his musical talent, he joined his first musical ensemble at the age of 15. He made his first public performance in 1908 in Shusha, which proved to be a great success and brought the 19-year old singer big fame in the city. At his uncle's insistence, Shushinski completed another 2 years of musical education at Mir Mohsun Navvab's school in Shusha and was recognized as a professional khananda. His performance was admired outside the Azeri community. In 1911 he was invited by the Armenian club Obschestvennoe sobranie to give a concert in Tiflis (nowadays Tbilisi, Georgia), first one in a series of remarkable concerts given by Shushinski in this city in the next 8 years. The money made off these concerts were donated to various Azeri publishing houses and spent on training young singers in vocal arts. In 1913 a vinyl record was released in Kiev containing among others several folk pieces by Seyid Shushinski. In 1919 he moved to Baku.

After Sovietization Shushinski was a soloist of a drama theatre in Baku, closely involved in the development of national theater and opera arts. In 1926–1933 he taught at the Azerbaijan State Conservatoire. In 1933 along with Jahan Talyshinskaya, he founded the Oriental Music Ensemble which toured Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. In 1933–1938 he worked as the artistic director of the Fizuli State Drama Theatre, still continuing to give concerts in Baku. In 1939–1960 Shushinski was a soloist with the Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Society. He took the leading parts in many operas by Uzeyir Hajibeyov (e.g. roles of Majnun in "Leyli and Majnun", Kerem in "Asli and Kerem", Sarvar in "Not this one, then that one" etc.). In his last years he was a mugham opera consultant at the Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre.

Shushinski's art of performance greatly influenced the new generation of mugam singers. Famous Azerbaijanian composer Fikret Amirov said: "If Jabbar Karyagdy was the brain of the Azeri music, Seyid Shushinski was the beating heart of this music..".
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