Summer 1997 (5.2)

If Objects Could Speak

by Betty Blair

An incredible transformation is taking place in Baku these days. Construction is going on all over the city. New stores and offices are opening. The international community is discovering this land and its people. It's now possible to fly in and out of Baku to major international cities every day of the week. "Old timers" (those foreigners who have lived in Azerbaijan four years or more) remember when they used to walk into any restaurant in town and recognize every single foreigner. Those days are gone.

Even clothing and colors have changed. Skirts are shorter, colors brighter. Young people are optimistic about their futures. "Winters don't seem as gray and dull any more," noted one "old-timer."

In this issue, we've selected a few objects that we think speak to the positive transformations that are taking place in Azerbaijan.

Classical Music of Azerbaijan
Music is a universal language, especially Azerbaijan's classical music which is a rich exotic blend of eastern and western styles, melodies and orchestration. Unfortunately, Azerbaijan's music is hardly known throughout the world despite its sophistication and quality. During the Soviet period, the spotlight was primarily on Russian works and composers. Decisions were dictated from Moscow, and Azerbaijanis, like many talented performers living in other peripheral republics, were pushed aside.

We hope this will soon change. Azerbaijanis deserve to be known for their music. That's why we are proud to announce our joint project with Amoco concerning the release of "Classical Music of Azerbaijan"- a collection of six CDs. This is a historical achievement for Azerbaijan: the first anthology of 20th century classical music, presenting works of Azerbaijani composers, performed by Azerbaijani musicians and digitally recorded in Azerbaijan. The Collection includes 6 CDs-Symphonic, Ballet, Concerto, Piano, Opera and Chamber Music. There are 74 works by 15 different Azerbaijani composers.

In the spring of 1994, our magazine focused on "Crisis in the Arts". Music and art were struggling, pressured by economic concerns. Some of Azerbaijan's finest artists and performers, unwilling to give up their careers, had to migrate to other countries. This quality recording shows that this trend is reversing itself and classical music is re-establishing itself once again. As Polad Bulbuloghlu, Azerbaijan's Minister of Culture, remarked, "This confirms to the world that music is very much alive in Azerbaijan today."

The Alphabet
Another touchstone during this transitional period is the alphabet. In 1991, Parliament adopted a modified version of the Latin script. Generally speaking, implementation has been relatively slow, once again due to financial pressures. But this spring, there seems to be a new commitment to support alphabet reform. As Tamam Bayatly writes, the Latin script has become the symbol of the Azerbaijan. Finally, the new alphabet seems fixed and its direction, irrevocable.

Just For Kids
With this issue we introduce a new section "Just For Kids." So often, we receive requests from kids, often by e-mail when they discover our Web site <>. We'd like to dedicate a new section to topics that we think would enhance cultural understanding among these young geographers. This time, we chose "Red - If Colors Could Speak" with illustrations, showing the fondness of Azerbaijanis for red which has both historical and cultural implications.

Bilingual Resource Directory
Our Bilingual Resource Directory, which we have published here for the third year, provides evidence of the international community's trust and confidence in Azerbaijan's future. The company logos, themselves, speak of the strong and broad representation here in Baku these days. That confidence is manifesting itself in economic security for Azerbaijan. For example, in the last 12 months, of all the former Soviet republics, Azerbaijan experienced the least amount of inflation. Even the value of the manat is increasing.

There's a lot of positive energy in Azerbaijan these days-you can feel it in the air, and that alone, we think, speaks volumes.

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