Tofig Guliyev was born on 7th November 1917 in Baku. In spite of there being many children in the family, Tofig`s parents were able to give a musical education to all of them showing their high intelligence and love for art. However it turned out that Tofig was the most gifted and talented among the children. He had an excellent ear and phenomenal memory for music and liked to improvise on the music he heard.
In 1934 Tofig Guliyev entered the Asaf Zeynalli Musical College and after receiving a musical education in his home country, he went with a group of young talented people and he went to Moscow with the assistance of the founder of Azerbaijan classical music, the great Uzeir Hajibeyov. There he became fascinated by jazz music. He began to understand the depth of this genre, learned to improvise and studied its theory. He was a talented student and drew the attention of the famous pianist and artistic director of the jazz orchestra of the Soviet Union, Alexander Zhfasman, and began to work as a pianist there. Within a short period of time Tofig was accepted as the best musician of the orchestra.

Tofig Guliyev

After gaining great experience in Zhfasman`s orchestra, which turned into a school of professional jazz music for him, Tofig returned to Baku. The most talented conductor and master of music Niyazi and he established the first Baku jazz orchestra.
Tofig Guliyev`s talent was many-sided and unique. He became a pioneer and founder of the new culture in Azerbaijan. We can characterize him as a personality who possessed musical and leadership skills. His orchestra was distinguished by its intelligence, professionalism and wonderful performance. Consequently many of its musicians performed in the various jazz groups of the Soviet Union. Trumpet player Ismayil Kelenterov became the soloist of Boris Rensky`s orchestra and afterwards the musical leader of the first music-hall of the Soviet Union. Saxophonists Parvis Rustambeyov, Tofig Akhmedov and others were graduates of Tofig Guliyev`s jazz school.

Tofig Guliyev and Vagif Mustafa-zadeh

It is a pity that the orchestra existed only for a short period of time. Very soon the most dreadful tragedy of the 20th century descended with destructive force. World War П, during which the best qualities of the musicians, their devotion to their home land, their fearlessness and courage were demonstrated, began. All the musicians of the orchestra went to the front and organized the
402 Transcaucasian infantry division orchestra there. The musicians of the orchestra received special praise and gratitude for raising the fighting spirit of the soldiers during that difficult time.
After the war Tofig Guliyev decided to continue his education and entered the Moscow State Conservatoire. His character distinguished him from others: he always tried to do something that others could not do. The difficult years when he was a student of both the piano and conducting faculties at the same time were very appealing for Tofig. After graduating from post graduate studies he returned to Baku and continued his creative activity.

Tofig Guliyev

This time it was different but this was quite understandable. From the time he was a student music had lived inside him, his own music, which he heard nowhere else: Tofig Guliyev`s music. His talent as a composer always won and consequently it became decisive in his life. It was the truth which walked in heaven and his songs became part of the Golden Song Fund of Azerbaijani culture. His songs were performed by such legendary famous singers as Bulbul, Rashid Behbudov, Shevket Alekperova, the famous jazz orchestra of Eddie Rozner and others. Besides this he proved himself as a wonderful conductor and talented composer who created classical works of Babayev, Vagif Mustafa-zadeh and others, bringing a special spirit and breath to movies which have become the classics of Azerbaijani cinema. He remembered the years when he had played jazz and later he always supported jazz musicians; organizing competitions and concerts, which were a stimulus for the new generation.

Tofig Guliyev

Tofig Guliyev possessed an unusual energy and mind. Because of his successful public and political activity he was appointed to the position of director of the Baku State Philharmonic Society and was an elected deputy of the Parliament of the Azerbaijan Republic. Tofig Guliyev received a State award and gained the title of Honoured Artist of Azerbaijan for his achievements.
In spite of his advanced years, Guliyev was professor of the Baku Music Academy and chairman of the Composers` Union until the end of his life. Tofig Guliyev`s contribution to the development of jazz in Azerbaijan is of irreplaceable value. We hold his memory sacred and honour the immortal legacy of this unique musician.

by Rain Sultanov