Spring 2004 (12.1)
Poet Samad Vurghun as Father
by his Daughter, Aybaniz
by Aybaniz Vurghungizi
the only daughter of Samad Vurghun (1906-1956) shares her vivid
memories of what it was like to grow up with a very famous father
who was a nationally recognized poet-not only in Azerbaijan but
also throughout the Soviet Union. Her memoirs reveal a very talented
writer and caring father. Vurghun died at the young age of 50.
Undoubtedly, the troublesome times in which he lived-the repressive
era of Stalin (mid-1920s to 1953)-dramatically contributed to
shortening his life.
Aybaniz Vurghungizi (born 1937) is President of the Samad Vurghun
Foundation and Chief Curator of Samad Vurghun House Muesum. She
also is a professor of Literature.
Her brother Vagif (born 1939) was named National Poet of Azerbaijan
in 2000 and is a Member of Parliament and one of the six Parliament
representatives from Azerbaijan to the Council of Europe. Her
older brother Yusif (1935-1998) was also a novelist, short story
writer and Member of Parliament. Both Vagif's and Yusif's works
are translated in this issue. Also SEARCH at AZER.com. Vurghun's
wife Khavar still lives.
This article was prepared by
Vurghun's daughter Aybaniz and translated by Aytan Aliyeva.
· · ·
Below: The Samad Vurghun Home Museum is located
in downtown Baku at 4 Aliyarbeyov Street on the third floor.
The poet lived there from 1956 until he passed away two years
later. It was memorialized as a home museum in October 1975.
Photo: Blair, 2004
time that I come to the home museum1, which celebrates the life and works
of my father, the poet Samad Vurghun, I have these very strange,
mixed feelings. It's 28 years now since this apartment has been
converted into a museum. That's quite a long time. I have so
many memories connected with this place that it's hard for me
to realize that this house is really a museum. I can neither
incorporate them into the tour, nor turn them into an exhibit.
But these memories are so vibrant and so dear to me; they'll
live within my heart until the day I die.
We moved into this apartment back in February 1954. I was 17
years old at the time. Stalin had died just the year before.
My father had chosen this place because he liked it so much.
To tell you the truth, Mother didn't want to move here because
it was so big; it contained six large rooms plus two long corridors.
Such space was extremely unusual during the Soviet period when
many families lived in the confined space of one or two rooms.
When mother complained, Father replied, "Eh, Khavar, don't
blame me. I've suffered so much from being cramped into such
small spaces all my life. Now I want space"2
World War II
My first childhood memories date back to the beginning of World
War II.3 One day someone came to our place and
suddenly announced that the war had begun. I was only four years
old at the time. But from the way the adults were carrying on,
I figured out that war was something terrible. The horror became
more tangible when I heard my parents talking to each other in
hushed, sad tones. Father would hug us and quickly head off somewhere.
Every time the sirens went off in the middle of the night, Mother
would wake us up and rush us down to the basement-sleepy me holding
my dolly. Others from the apartment were always already nervously
Usually during those years, Mother made us go to bed and sleep
in our regular clothes in case there was such an emergency. I'll
never forget once when my little brother Vagif wriggled out of
Mother's grasp and ran to the window and pointed his toy pistol
to the sky and shouted, "I'll shoot that fascist plane!"
At that time, I didn't even know that my father was a poet. I
wasn't aware at that age that my father was the famous Samad
Vurghun. Nor did I have any idea that the very day the war started,
my father had written his first poem about the war. I didn't
know that many times when he left home, he was not going to work,
but rather he was heading out to hospitals, to the radio station
or to public forums to give speeches. Nor did I know that my
father would go on to write a famous poem called Ukrainian Guerillas,
which was printed on leaflets that were dropped by planes and
scattered over the Ukrainian forests in order to rally some of
the guerilla fighters...
Left: Aybaniz with her father,the poet
Samad Vurghun. Courtesy: Samad Vurghun Home Museum.
In the springtime, we used to go to live out at our cottage at
Shuvalan on the Absheron Peninsula near the sea. My father would
organize for a truck, and we would load up our bedding and things.
We three children4 -Yusif (1935-1998), Vagif (born 1939)
and me (born 1937)- would climb up in the truck, too. We were
so happy. Grandmother (my mother's mom), Father and Mother would
follow us by car. On the way, when their car would pass our truck
and take the lead, Father would wave to us, motioning at us to
As soon as we would reach the cottage, Father would organize
to get water from the well and carry it to the house. He would
assign us as his "assistants" to carry water in small
pots. During the evenings, we would have long conversations,
sitting around the samovar. Our days in the cottage would pass
happily. When my father was at the cottage, we were able to see
him a lot. I remember how often he joked with us.
Once, I remember that during dinner Father took a bone with meat
from his plate and got up and went towards the yard. I said:
"Daddy, give it to me."
But he replied: "No, this is for Rex." I got so upset
and complained: "Eh, you love that dog more than us!"
Then he became more serious, "Don't talk nonsense. I love
Everybody laughed. My father was fond of telling such anecdotes
that took place at our cottage.
He loved working in the garden. Along with our gardener, he would
plant potatoes, onions, tomatoes and eggplants and then brag
about his efforts to his friends and relatives who would come
to visit. Mustafa Topchubashov5 would praise my father's "garden"
activity the most. "Samad," he would say, "your
talent proves itself in this area, too. I've never eaten such
tasty potatoes in my life!"
Writer Mehdi Husein
During the hot summers we used to go to Kyslovodsk.6
I remember our first trip there in 1946. We went there along
with the family of Mehdi Husein7, my father's closest friend. My father
loved Mehdi like his own brother. We would rent an apartment
in the same building on the same floor.
Naturally, the devastation of the war could still be felt throughout
the city. There were so many buildings that had been destroyed,
and the streets had not yet been rebuilt. As strange as it sounds,
the hostess of the house appeared to be fat but it was because
of hunger8. Her daughters and grandchildren were
thin and sickly. My father asked my mother to treat them as members
of our family-to take care about their food and clothes.
Those years writers and scientists along with their families
would go to Kyslovodsk. I remember such holidays with Suleyman
Rustam, Sabit Rahman, Mammad Arif, Mir Jalal [Pashayev], Ali
Sultanli, Hamid Arasli, and Jafar Khandan. Sometimes, we even
arranged so that we would all travel there together on the same
train. All the families tried to rent apartments close to one
another. In the evenings, we would gather and take walks in the
parks, or go to the theater, cinema and concert. Because our
parents were friends, we children became friends as well. Some
of us have remained so.
Left: Poet Samad Vurghun in the 1950s. Courtesy: Samad
Vurghun Home Museum.
One time, I remember, we all decided to go to the cinema together,
but it turned out that there were no tickets. Uncle Mehdi showed
the director his card, which identified him as a recipient of
the Stalin Prize9 but his plan didn't work this time.
Then my father said: "Don't worry. I'll find a way to get
Suddenly, I saw my father coming towards us, waving the tickets
in his hand. Everybody was surprised. My father turned to Uncle
Mehdi and said: "I introduced myself, not as a Stalin Prize
Winner, but simply as 'Samad Vurghun', and they gave me the tickets.
Well, Mehdi, 1-0. You owe me one!"
They were always together-Father and Mehdi-in the city, at the
cottage, or in Kyslovodsk. But one day my father came home very
disappointed from the Writers' Union and told my mother: "Khavar,
Mehdi is being critical. I'm not going to be friends with him
That evening my father suggested that we go out to get some fresh
air. When we were getting dressed, Mother said: "You'll
see, your father will go and reconcile himself with Uncle Mehdi."
Suddenly, we realized that Father was not heading in the direction
of seaside, but on the route to Uncle Mehdi's. Mother joked:
"Samad, how will we get any fresh air in that direction?"
Father didn't say anything but continued on his wayUncle Mehdi
opened the door himself. At first, they just looked at each other
rather coldly. But after we entered his apartment and sat down,
they cheered up and smiled, and began talking together as if
nothing had happened.
Once in 1947 when we were in Kyslovodsk, my father took us to
Yesentuki, where our great composer Uzeyir Hajibeyov10
was convalescing. When we arrived at the sanatorium, my father
asked us to kiss Uzeyir's hand. First Yusif, then me, and then
Vagif. We followed obediently. I remember that Uzeyir bey smiled
and ran his fingers through Vagif's curly hair.11
Uzeyir bey was sitting in an armchair. Though there were empty
chairs next to him, my father didn't sit as he wanted to show
his great respect to the composer. He stood talking for 10 or
15 minutes. Then he asked us to come near. We said "goodbye"
Now when I think back to that scene, I'm sorry that I didn't
pay attention to what they were saying to each other. Of course,
I was only 10 years old at that time so I probably would not
have understood anyway. Today, I can't tell you what they talked
about, but I'm proud because I saw them express their love for
each other just as a father and son would. They say that later
on, my father fell on his knees near sick Uzeyir bey's bed with
tears in his eyes and Uzeyir told him: "I'm leaving you,
poet, but you live on" The day when Uzeyir bey passed away12,
was the first time I ever saw my father crying as he sat at his
writing table. He wrote:
"May Death not rejoice
The ones who loved their land more than their own lives,
Didn't waste their lives for nothing.
The ones who lived loving and who died being loved
Will remain as a sweet memory in this world."
That day when my father wrote
these lines, when he comforted his nation along with himself
with his poet's pencil, I saw him grow older right in front of
I recall some trips that we made in 1953 together with my father.
In February, he took me to Guba region to a meeting with some
voters. It was during this trip that I saw for the first time
how much my father was loved. I became so proud.
On the return trip, my father said: "Abigiz, (he often called
me that way), you've grown up. If your mother permits, I'll take
I was beside myself with happiness because I knew that my father
was a good hunter and I dreamed of going hunting with him. When
he used to get ready to go hunting, it was always a big event
in our house. He would grease the ramrod of his rifle with such
great enthusiasm, place the bullets into his cartridge belt,
and gather his hunting clothes and tall hunting boots. We kids
would gather around, waiting to do something for him.
When he returned, he would be very tired. He would sit in the
corridor and when he said, "Well kids, who's going to take
off my boots?" We would start quarreling with each other
for the chance to help. We would grab hold of his boots and push
the others away. And he would look at us through tired eyes and
In March of the same year, my father took me to Moscow on the
occasion of Stalin's death [March 5, 1953]. He was a member of
the Supreme Soviet as a representative from Azerbaijan.13
It was the first time I had ever been on a plane, so he paid
a lot of attention to me during the flight. He often put his
hand on my shoulders and expressed his concerns over and over:
"How do you feel? Aren't your ears going deaf [from the
loud engine noise], my mother, my sister, my only daughter?14"
On the way from the airport to the city, I experienced a real
Moscow winter for the first time. My father sensed my awe and
told the driver: "This is the first time that my daughter
has ever seen snow. Stop and let her get out and put her feet
on the ground." And then he covered me with snow as if he
were still a kid himself.
Then we continued our way. The driver told us that because of
Stalin's funeral, the car would not be permitted into the center
of the city. He would have to drop us off near a Metro station.
So then we continued for two or three stations by Metro only
to discover that the escalator going up to the Moscow Hotel had
been closed. Two soldiers were standing guard downstairs. My
father showed his Deputy card and they opened the escalator and
both of us went up.
It was already dark when we came out on the street. My father
said surprisingly: "My daughter, I've never seen Moscow's
streets so empty."
And it was true; there were neither people nor cars in Akhotni
Ryad Street. It was as if we were in some mythical place. A few
steps further and we entered the hotel. My father dropped off
his little suitcase in our room, and then we quickly headed for
a restaurant. Many people, sitting at other tables in the restaurant,
came up to greet him and so he introduced me to famous writers
such as Alexander Korneychuk, Vanda Vasilevskaya and the well-known
woman tractor driver Pasha Angelina. Later we went to the Writers'
Union. Everywhere was covered with snow. My father was holding
onto me tightly so that I wouldn't fall down.
When we reached the Union House, soldiers were standing in a
row and an endless flow of humanity was heading in that direction.
My father went up to one door and we were allowed to enter. It
took us to the back stage of Column Hall. My father took off
his coat, tied a black funeral band around his arm and joined
several deputies on stage as part of the honor guard. I remained
Suddenly, the door opened. Several boys and girls from Georgia
entered. They tied black strips around their arms as well. One
officer told me: "If you want, go with them." They
tied a black band around my arm, too, and I went on stage and
stood guard, as well. I don't know how much time passed. Suddenly,
when they brought the coffin into the Hall, I began to cry. At
that moment, someone behind me, said: "You girl, you can't
cry here. Come here, right away." Another girl was sent
in to replace me.
I waited for my father back stage. Finally, he came. We took
our coats and headed for the street. With great excitement I
told my father that I had been part of the honor guard. He joked:
"They thought you were older. If they had known you were
just in the ninth grade, they wouldn't have let you."
The next morning, my father as a Deputy took part in the funeral
ceremony. I watched this process unfolding in Red Square from
the window of the hotel.
In the evening we were guests of one of my father's friends-Pavel
Antolosky. Also present were Mikola Bajan (Ukraine), Simon Chikovani
(Georgia), and poets Konstantin Simonov, Michael Lukonin, and
Alexander Mejirov (all from Moscow). I sat next to Pavel Antoloski's
wife, Aunt Zoya.
First the poets read some of their new poems. Then my father
led the party. He began to talk about the problem of the romantic
hero in literature. He was talking with such sincerity, analysis
and humor. The Party people were listening attentively. Aunt
Zoya was looking with amazement at my father. Suddenly, she jumped
up from her place and said: "Pavel, even if you kill me,
I'm going to kiss Samad."
Then everybody joined Aunt Zoya and stood up and hugged and kissed
my father. I was beside myself with joy. I wish I had made a
note of what my father said that nightWhat is to be doneYouth
doesn't believe in death, nor does a son or daughter ever imagine
the death of their father"
Once Rasul Reza15 came to our room. He invited my father
and me for lunch. My father and Uncle Rasul were talking about
music and poetry. From time to time, they were arguing. Later,
they began to talk about their children. Uncle Rasul was praising
Yusif [Vurghun's son], but my father was praising Anar [Rasul
Reza's son]. Then Uncle Rasul looked at me and said: "Samad,
Aybaniz looks so much like you. Probably, that's the reason you
love her so much. If I were an artist, I would paint her portrait.
She's a real Azeri girl."
And my father answered: "You're right. She looks more like
my mother, than me. So I love her more than myself."
As soon as the special session of the USSR Supreme Soviet was
adjourned, we returned to Baku. In April, my father went to Sochi
(Russia) with Uncle Mehdi.
A little later on, they began to criticize and attack my father.
In general, my father's life was not always smooth. According
to the press, he was strongly criticized in the 1930s as well.
In those years, he could escape all of these troubles because
of his creative activity and with some luck. When he was accused
of being nationalistic, he wrote more than hundred works about
the history of the nation. In the 1930s, the KGB opened a file
on him, too. Up through 193716, they arrested the ones they wanted
and left the others alone. Samad Vurghun was the only art person
whose file was kept open and they continued to hold him under
suspicion until Mir Jafar Baghirov was dismissed in 1953.17
When the last attack began against my father, my mother called
him in Sochi, warning him and begging him to come back. During
their phone conversation, Father spoke against Baghirov. Mother
got scared and hung up the phone.
My father understood the situation very well and did not return
to Baku right away. Instead, he went from Sochi to Georgia to
be with relatives and friends.
When my father was in Sochi, I wrote him a letter, telling him
how I was doing at school. He sent me back a telegram: "Received
your letter. I kiss you, my dear swallow. Let me know the results
of your exams. Kiss your Mom, Yusif and Vagif for me."
He would go to Moscow very often because of Congress, but he
preferred not to go alone. In September, he took Mother and me.
As always, we stayed in Moscow Hotel. Those days my father was
worrying about the famous Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet. He would
tell us that Nazim was ill, and he often called him to learn
about his situation. Once he said: "Nazim, come to Baku.
I'll take you hunting. You need a walk through the forests and
mountains, then you'll recover."
But this wish never came true. Nazim Hikmet came to Baku in 1957
but my father had already passed away the year before.
My father became very busy. We rarely saw him. He worked as a
Vice President of Public Affairs of the Azerbaijan Academy of
Sciences. I remember when he was preparing his speech, "About
Soviet Poetry", for the Second All-Union Congress of Soviet
Writers. At that time, my father was very respected throughout
the USSR. Therefore, he was responsible for giving the speech
about "About Soviet Poetry". Azerbaijanis were proud
that such an honor for making this speech had been given to one
of their own.
He researched so much literature connected with that speech,
often working until mid-night. He would smoke and drink tea the
whole nightlong. I still remember seeing him sitting at his writing
table and thinking deeply about something in the light of the
lamp at midnight.
My father gave this speech in Moscow on December 16, 1954. It
was a very emotional experience for him and one of the proudest
moments of my life. I was so happy when I saw both Soviet and
foreign poets and writers sitting in the hall, listening to him.
I watched how they were so moved by his words and how they applauded
so vigorously. But when I compared my father to the writers who
I knew sitting there in the Presidium, I got sad. My father looked
so much older than the others, even those who were older than
At intermission, I went up to Father and stretched out my hand
and said in Russian: "Congratulations. Very good report."
And he replied: "You devil!" and patted my shoulder.
Then he introduced me to some foreign writers. I was so confused
so that I didn't remember their names except for Luis Aragon.18
I have a photo from those days. Unfortunately, I don't recall
how it was taken. I learned about it quite by accident. In 1976,
the wife of one of the photographers from Kiev sent me a letter
along with the list of several photos and negatives. The title
of one photo took me quite by surprise: "Samad Vurghun with
his daughter." I figured the woman had made a mistake.
That same autumn I went to Kiev along with my daughter Aygun.
There I had a chance to look at those photos. I couldn't believe
my eyes. One of them really was my father and me. I was overwhelmed
with emotion. It was as if I was reliving those happy days all
over again-the days I had spent with my father 20 years earlier
in Moscow Hotel. It brought to mind the lines that my brother
Vagif had written:
"I know the moments of
That I spent with my father
Turn yellow, one by one, as leaves.
I know that the best moments of my life,
Passed where those leaves fell."
My father did so much to help
others. It was Samad Vurghun who made it possible for the Sara
Ashurbeyli19 and Pustakhanim Azizbeyova20
to become members of the Academy of Sciences when he worked there
as a vice president. Moreover, my father helped such linguists
as Vagif Aslanov21 and Turkan Afandiyeva.22 He also was involved with historian
Mahal Mammadov, philosopher Jamal Mustafayev and others. He would
send money to the ones who were only getting small stipends to
help their families.
My father also played a major role in protecting historical monuments.
There is a tomb called Haji Mahmud Afandi in Vurghun's native
region of Gazakh. Stalin wanted to destroy it in 1943, but my
father wouldn't let them to do it. At that time a person had
to have an enormous amount of courage to stand up for such things
to protect a religious tomb.
In 1952-53, the government sent bulldozers to the Gobustan rocks;23
they wanted to develop a quarry there. This is where petroglyphs
had been found that date back to at least 5000 B.C. My father
took a public prosecutor and went out there. And believe it or
not, such a humanist as my Father grabbed the prosecutor's pistol
and told the driver of the bulldozer: "If you don't get
off that bulldozer right now, I'll shoot you. You're destroying
thousands of years of history of our nation."
Later, my father would return with archaeologists. In short,
he did his best to preserve Gobustan as a National Archeological
As a father, Samad Vurghun was very kind and caring. He was very
gentle at home. He never pressured us. When we made mistakes,
he tried to let us discover it ourselves. He treated us as his
closest friends. In short, he was a very democratic person. As
his daughter, I pen these words with great pride.
I recall when I graduated from high school; we had a big party
at home. My teachers and many of my friends came. Next morning,
I told my father that my girlfriend's mother was also having
a party. He asked about her father. I told him that he had died
in the war.
When I was at my friend's party, I suddenly heard my father's
voice: "Hey hostess, hey hostess. "Everybody rose to
greet him. My father came in and passed me by, not paying any
attention to me. He kissed my friend on the cheek, sat down at
the table and took the initiative of party. When we got home,
I asked him why he had come to the party. He told me: "My
child, when you told me that your friend had no father, I was
very touched and decided to go to this party so that your friend
wouldn't feel that she had no father."
In the summer of 1955, my father told my mother that we wouldn't
be going to Kyslovodsk any more. He felt that his children didn't
know Azerbaijan well, and he decided to take some sightseeing
trips throughout Azerbaijan and rest there. That summer we went
to Shamkir, Ganja, Gazakh, Aghdam, Barda, Shusha and Kalbajar.
Whenever he would see a beautiful place, he would stop the car:
"Kids, come on, get out of the car. One should never pass
beauty by. One must stop and say 'hello' to it."
Those were moments that my father would joke with us, tell us
the names of the plants, flowers and trees, speak to us about
He used to meet so many of his friends and relatives on such
trips. He was always so friendly with them. He would speak with
each person and show interest in their problems and lives.
Sometimes, I would notice my father alone leaning up against
a tree, or sitting on a mossy tree stump or some stone, thinking
about something. I didn't like to see him so sad. I would run
up to him, hug him tightly and ask: "Daddy, why are you
At that time, I thought that Father was getting ideas to write
something, and that later, in five or 10 days, he would gather
us and read some new poems to us. But as the years passed, I
realized that this person so lonely who was leaning up against
a tree and looking at the distant tall mountains was Samad Vurghun,
who was saying "goodbye" to Azerbaijan
After we returned, my parents went to Tbilisi to attend the jubilee
of David Guramshvili.24 My father was feeling good then. Even
when they returned, he said proudly that he had succeeding in
tiring out five young Georgian boys while dancing.25
In October, my father was invited him to Moscow to join a delegation
of Supreme Soviet representatives touring Vietnam. Those days
my father caught cold, he was coughing a lot. In the evening,
we saw my father off. At midnight, I heard Father returning as
the flight had been delayed and rescheduled for early morning.
When my father came back, he said he sensed that this trip would
not be so fortunate.
My father sent such a letter from distant China: "My dear,
light-of-my-eyes Khavar. We arrived in Peking, the capital of
China, by plane on October 28. Regardless of the change in climate,
I began having difficulty in breathing. Vietnam is even further
south and it rains more there so the doctors have advised against
my going. Therefore, I will stay in China until November 10,
then return to Moscow by train (an eight-day journey).
Tonight, I had bad dreams. Aybaniz was crying bitterly because
she thinks I'm ill. It seems you miss me. I must say that I have
never remembered more in my lifetime than now. Don't think about
bad things. I feel good. I will return with rich memories from
China. Probably, I will be inspired when I come back. It's very
difficult to send letters or telegrams from here. I kiss you,
Mehdikhan (Vurghun's brother) and children. My greetings to everybody!"
Yours, S. Vurghun
"Aybaniz! As soon as I
come back, I'll kiss you for one hour. I order Vagif not to be
jealous, I'll kiss him one hour, too. I beg you, don't trouble
your mother, and pay attention to your lessons."
May 31, 1955, Peking
That was the last letter my
father ever wrote us. Vurghun returned to Baku from China in
November 1955. He had had a medical check up here, and then he
went to Moscow to the Kremlin Hospital where Academician Petrovski
carried out surgery. During the surgery when the doctor examined
Vurghun's liver, he realized that it had metastasized. So, he
didn't proceed with the surgery and Father returned to Baku in
January. Until his death the following May, he mostly stayed
In 1956 the entire country was planning to celebrate Vurghun's
50th Jubilee.26 For this reason the honor of National
Poet was established and Vurghun became the first poet in Azerbaijan
ever to receive this award.27 On May 12, his Jubilee was held in
Baku's Opera and Ballet Theater. Father was not able to take
part in the ceremony because of his illness, but he dictated
a letter for the people that I wrote down. Vurghun's brother
Mehdikhan Vakilov read it at the ceremony. He basically thanked
the people who had taken part in the ceremony and wished to see
them later. He also wished everybody "the dearest gift of
the world-health". The letter concluded with two lines of
"Though my eyes are far
from your eyes,
I see the way from my heart to yours."
Two weeks later on May 27, 1956,
my Father passed away. Three days his coffin was on display at
Philharmonic Hall. So many people came to bid him farewell. He
was buried on May 30 in the Cemetery of the Honored Ones-Fakhri
Khiyaban. People carried his coffin from there to the cemetery.
People watched the procession pass from the streets, the balconies
and roofs, and even from the tops of trees.
The Vurghun Home Museum was opened on October 6, 1975. Heydar
Aliyev, as head of the Communist Party in Azerbaijan and who
later became President after independence, took part in the ceremony.
The museum is located at 4 T. Aliyarbeyov Street close to the
sea in downtown Baku. See the bust of Vurghun on the street level
at the corner of the building. The museum is located on the Third
Floor. Contact: Tel: (994-12) 93-56-52; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Of course, it was the Soviet government that was responsible
for assigning all apartments. At that time the government paid
considerable attention to its artists. People of Vurghun's stature
often were asked to entertain guests from abroad.
For the Soviets, World War II officially started on June 21,
Samad Vurghun's three children have all followed careers related
to literature: Writer Yusif Samadoghlu (1935-1998), poet Vagif
Samadoghlu (born 1939) and professor of literature Aybaniz Vurghun
gizi (born 1937). See this issue for literary samples by Yusif
and Vagif. Search at AZER.com and AZERI.org for previous articles
and literary works.
Mustafa Topchubashov (1895-1981) was one of the most distinguished
surgeons during World War II. He and Vurghun were vice presidents
of the Azerbaijan Academy of Sciences. See "Mustafa Topchibashov:
Legendary Surgeon's 100th Jubilee" by Dr. Gahraman Gahramanov
in AI 3.4 (Winter 1995). Search at AZER.com.
Kyslovodsk is a health resort in Russia on the Black Sea. During
Soviet times, Azerbaijanis used to prefer spending their holidays
Writer Mehdi Husein (1901-1965) was born in the Gazakh region
in northwestern Azerbaijan near the Georgian border where Vurghun
also grew up. Husein was Secretary of the Azerbaijan Writers'
Union from 1930-1934. Then he became First Secretary from 1934
until his death in 1965. His most famous works include the novels
"Absheron", "Sahar" (Morning) and "Black
Stones", which are considered to be a trilogy. An excerpt
from his novel, "Underground Rivers Flow into the Sea"
is published in Azerbaijan International, in the Literature issue,
Spring 1999 (AI 7.1). Search at AZER.com.
It's not uncommon for people who are starving to appear fat as
their bodies are swollen.
The Lenin Prize was established in 1925 and was the highest award
of the Soviet Union, given for contributions in technology, literature
and art but between 1937-1957, the Stalin Prize was the only
one awarded. Both Mehdi Husein and Vurghun were Stalin Prize
Uzeyir Hajibeyov (1885-1948) is recognized as the Father of Composed
music in Azerbaijan, meaning that he spearheaded much of the
movement to commit to writing traditional music, which prior
to that was played by ear and improvised. Hajibeyov is dearly
loved and respected in Azerbaijan, not only for his musical compositions
such as "Arshin Mal Alan" (The Cloth Peddler), O Olmasin,
Bu Olsun (If Not This One, That One) and Koroghlu, but for inspiring
so many individuals to enter music professionally and for his
great humanitarian spirit. See the Web site, HAJIBEYOV.com, created
by Azerbaijan International, which is totally dedicated to his
legacy. Hajibeyov suffered from diabetes and that's why he was
convalescing in Kyslovodsk.
Music ended up playing a significant role for Vagif who went
on to study at Baku's Conservatory (now the Music Academy). See
the Short Story "Flowers" in this issue which his brother
Yusif Samadoghlu dedicated to him and which describes the last
days of their father-Samad Vurghun.
Uzeyir Hajibeyov died on November 23, 1948. His was the largest
funeral that had ever taken place in Azerbaijan.
Vurghun was a Deputy of the USS Supreme Soviet from 1946 to 1956
(when he passed away).
"Mother, sister, daughter!" Affectionate terms that
Azerbaijani fathers often use to address their daughters.
Poet Rasul Reza (1910-1981) was the father of Anar, President
of the Writers' Union today. For samples of poetry by both him
and his wife, Nigar Rafibeyli, see Azerbaijan International,
Spring 1999 (AI 7.1). Search at AZER.com or AZERI.org.
The year 1937 is known as the height of Stalin's Repression throughout
the Soviet Union when tens of thousands of intellectuals were
arrested, exiled or executed. Quite a number of Azerbaijani writers
suffered such fate as well.
Mir Jafar Baghirov was Stalin's right hand man in Azerbaijan
as Secretary of the Central Committee of Azerbaijan Communist
Luis Aragon (1897-1982) was a French poet, novelist, essayist
and political activist for Communism.
Sara Ashurbeyli, daughter of Oil Baron Balabey Ashurbeyli who
became ostracized during the Soviet period. After getting a chance
to become a scholar, she distinguished herself as a historian
and wrote several major books related to the history of Baku.
See "Legacy of the Oil Barons, Part V: The Ironic Fate of
the Ashurbeyli Family" by Fuad Akhundov. AI 4.1(Spring 1996).
Search at AZER.com.
Pustakhanim Azizbeyova was a historian.
Vagif Aslanov (1928-2001), distinguished Azerbaijani linguist.
For a tribute to him, see AI 9.3 (Autumn 2001). Search at AZER.com.
Turkan Afandiyeva is a philologist. She worked as a head of department
of "Russian Language" In Baku State University.
Gobustan. See "The Ancient Petroglyphs of Gobustan by Nigar
Abbaszade in AI 6.2 (Summer 1998). Search at AZER.com.
David Guramshvili, a distinguished Georgian poet (1705-1792).
His 250th Jubilee was celebrated in 1955.
To tire someone out when dancing is some sort of tradition in
the Caucasus, meaning to compete in being able to last the longest
in these intense dances.
Vurghun was born on March 21, 1906.
In 2000, Vurghun's son, Vagif Samadoghlu, was declared a National
Poet by President Heydar Aliyev. This was 45 years after Vurghun
had been honored as the first recipient of this award.
Other articles reflecting some of Samad Vurghun's ideas:
Vurghun (1906-1956) - Poet and Playwright on his 90th Jubilee,"
by his son Vagif Samadoghlu, AI 4.1 (Spring 1996), pp 20-23.
Personality Cult: Three Times I Changed My Mind," by
Vagif Samadoghlu, AI 7.3 (Autumn 1999), pp
Between the Lines: Personal Reflections on the History of
Alphabet Reform in Azerbaijan" by Anar, AI 8.1 (Spring 2000),
Speak out on Azeri" by Samad Vurghun (Though Vurghun
did not want to adopt the Cyrillic alphabet in the late 1930s,
because of his position, he had no choice but to embrace the
concept and to persuade others to do the same). See AI 8.1 (Spring
2000), pp 57, 72.
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