Asaf Zeynalli Competition

Fantasy in Mugham Style - Virtual Competition

In April 2020, the Azerbaijan-American Music Foundation launched an online competition for the best performances of the "Fantasy in Mugham Style" composed by Azerbaijani Composer Asaf Zeynalli. For outstanding achievements in the performance field, as an award, the foundation announced a Cash Prize of USD 250 and a "Certificate of Excellence" to the competition winner. Despite the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we were overwhelmingly pleased to receive a total of 14 unique interpretations of this evocative piece sent to us from different corners of the world. Because of these musical contributions, the music of Zeynalli got a well-deserved exposure. A group of qualified judges, representing American and Azerbaijani sides, were invited to evaluate these performances. The jury consisted of Julia Bushkova, professor of violin at the University of North Texas, and Zahra Guliyeva, People's Artists of Azerbaijan, professor of violin at the Baku Music Academy.

Competitors were judged on four different criteria: intonation, sound production, interpretation, and overall artistic impression. The results of the competition were announced on 19 August 2020.

Hao Miao was named the best performer in the competition. Currently, a Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) student at the University of Cincinnati Music Conservatory, Hao studies violin with Professor Kurt Sassmannshaus.

In addition to Hao Miao, two more participants in the competition impressed the jury with their professionalism and unique interpretation of Zeynalli's piece. Thus the foundation decided on awarding two more prizes divided between Andrii Isakov and Doori Na.

Andrii is also a DMA student at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Andrii Isakov's former violin teacher was Professor Mark Lakirovich, who currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and works as a professor at the Longy School of Music of Bard College. One of the most demanded violin teachers today, M. Lakirovich is a native of Baku, who was educated at the Asaf Zeynalli College of Music by the famous Azerbaijani violinist, People's Artist, Professor Azad Aliyev.

Doori Na is a graduate of the renowned Juilliard School in New York City and has studied with such prominent educators as Isaac Perlman, Catherine Cho, and Donald Weilerstein.

The winners of the second prize were awarded a cash prize of US $ 100 and received a Certificate of Excellence in Performance.

In gratitude for their participation, eleven participants received a "Certificate of Appreciation" signed by the jury and the founder of the AAMF, Dr. Jamila Javadova-Spitzberg.

Who is Asaf Zeynalli?

Asaf Zeynalli (5 April 1909 – 27 October 1932), one of the trailblazing musical stars of Azerbaijan, was a virtuoso pianist, educator, composer, and a public figure who lived to be 23 years old. By many, he is considered to be the father of the Azerbaijani musical genre of Romance. The role and influence of his mentor and pedagogue Uzeir Hajibeyov and the composer's "Sensiz" (Without You) romance in this is undeniable. Among Zeynalli's notable romances are "Ölkəm" (My Country), "Sual" (Question), "Çadra" (The veil), "Seyran," and others. Despite a short-lived lived life, Zeynalli particularly excelled in the chamber music field. He became the author of the first repertoire written for cello after studying with Leopold Rostropovich, father of Svyatoslav Rostropovich.
Passionate about the Azerbaijani Folk Songs, just like Hungarian composer Bela Bartok, Zeynalli collected and notated songs from various Azerbaijan regions, including Karabakh. The last trip cost him his life as he contracted typhus fever upon returning from the region and died shortly after. Zeynalli's work preserving the music of Azerbaijani culture had a profound influence on his compositions. Among the composer's well-known and widely played works is the "Fantasy in Mugham Style," originally written for violin and piano. This piece is a free improvisatory "Fantasy in Style of Mugham" based on national idioms, ornamentation, and runs.


Hao Miao's performance