Famous People from Azerbaijan 
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Mstislav Rostropovich - conductorMstislav Rostropovich: (1927- ), The most esteemed cellist of his generation. Born in Baku as the Soviet Union was becoming consolidated. At a tender age he learned cello and piano from his parents. He studied (and later taught) at the Moscow Conservatory. In 1950 he wins the International Cello Competition in Prague, starting a career as a professional cellist, that after 1961 develops into a double career as a cellist and conductor. He also performs as pianist in recitals by his wife, the Soviet-born soprano Galina Vishnevskaya. Despite winning the Lenin Prize, a Soviet state award, in 1963, he sheltered the Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn; in 1974 Rostropovich and his wife left the USSR, and in 1978 their citizenship was revoked. Having emigrated to the United States, he became conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., in 1977. He was invited to perform with his orchestra in the USSR in 1990, and his and his wife's Soviet citizenship were restored.

Kasparov plays in Lisbon - PortugalGarry Kimovich Kasparov: (1963- ), chess player and world chess champion of Jewish-Armenian descent, who competes for Russia. At the age of 22 he became the youngest world chess champion in history. Born Garri Weinstein in Baku, Azerbaijan, he learned chess from his father, who died when Garri was seven years old. He subsequently adopted his mother's maiden name (Russian adaptation of the Armenian "Kasparian"). At the age of 12 Kasparov won the Azerbaijan championship and the USSR junior championship, and at the age of 16 he won the world junior championship. In 1980, at the age of 17, "Garik," as he was known in the USSR earned the International Grandmaster title. Two years later Kasparov became a candidate for the world championship, and in 1984 he earned the right to challenge the world champion, Russian Anatoly Karpov. Their first match was stopped, after it had lasted six months without a deciding result. In 1985 Kasparov won a match against Karpov and became the world champion. He defended his title by beating Karpov in 1986, then tied a match with him in 1987 (a champion keeps the title if the match ends in a tie). Kasparov beat Karpov again in 1990 and retained his championship.
When Karpov failed to qualify to challenge Kasparov for the world championship in 1993, Kasparov and British challenger Nigel Short broke away from the Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE). The two grandmasters held their 1993 championship match under the governance of the Professional Chess Association (PCA). Spurned by Kasparov, the FIDE sanctioned a championship match between Karpov and Dutch grandmaster Jan Timman. Kasparov and Karpov won their respective matches, and both claimed the title of world champion. In 1995 Kasparov retained his PCA title by defeating Indian challenger Viswanathan Anand.
KasparovIn 1996 Kasparov competed against an IBM computer named Deep Blue, the first time a world champion had competed against a computer under standard match conditions. Deep Blue was capable of processing millions of chess positions per second. Applying this massive computational power, a technique of artificial intelligence known as brute force, Deep Blue won the first game of the match to become the first computer to defeat a world champion under regulation time controls. Kasparov subsequently defeated Deep Blue by a score of 4 games to 2 to win the match. A year later, however, Kasparov accepted a rematch against an enhanced version of Deep Blue, capable of processing 200 million chess positions per second. Although Kasparov won the first game, he was defeated in the six-game series 3.5 games to 2.5 games. It was the first time an international grand master lost a series to a computer.

Lev Davidovich Landau - Theoretical physicistLev Davidovich Landau: (1908-1968), Jewish theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate, noted chiefly for his pioneer work in low-temperature physics (cryogenics). He was born in Baku the son of an engineer and a physician, and educated at the universities of Baku and Leningrad. In 1937 Landau became professor of theoretical physics at the S. I. Vavilov Institute of Physical Problems in Moscow. His development of the mathematical theories that explain how superfluid helium behaves at temperatures near absolute zero earned him the 1962 Nobel Prize in physics. His writings on a wide variety of subjects relating to physical phenomena include some 100 papers and many books, among which is the widely known nine-volume Course of Theoretical Physics, published in 1943 with Y. M. Lifshitz. In January 1962, he was gravely injured in an automobile accident; he was several times considered near death and suffered a severe impairment of memory. By the time of his death he had been able to make only a partial recovery.

Kara Karayev - composerKara Karayev: (1918-1982), Born in Baku he studied at music school there from 1926-1935 (under Sharoyev). He continued his studies at the Baku Conservatory from 1935-1938 (composition under L.M. Rudolf. He moved on to the Moscow Conservatory from 1938-1941 (composition under Anatolii Aleksandrov and orchestration under S. Vasilenko) and from 1943-1946 (composition under Dmitri Shostakovich). His principal works are three symphonies, suites and symphonic poems, violin concerto, ballets, opera, oratorio, cantatas, film music, piano works, two string quartets, sonata for violin and piano. In his style Karayev is clearly a pupil of Shostakovich. In his music he tries to make a creative synthesis of a non-western musical idiom with Western form, harmony and artistic-audience values. Folklore and national tradition influenced his music.

Arif Melikov: (1933- ) Born in Baku he studied from 1946 until 1951 at the Baku Music College. From 1953 until 1958 he attended Baku Conservatory (studying composition under Kara Karaev). In 1958 he was appointed to teach at the conservatory, where he was assistant professor from 1971. From 1979 he is professor in composition and instrumentation. The Azeri traditional music is the basis of Melikov's compositions. His principal works have a symphonic form.Melikov is a symphonist mainly. His works are based on traditional Azerbaijan folklore, moulding certain international elements of this folklore into classical form structures.

Samad Vurgun - poetSamad Vurgun: (1906-1956) Born in the village of Salahli he studied at Baku Pedagogical University and Moscow State University. Poet, playwriter, academician, Deputy of the USSR Supreme Soviet, member of Azerbaijan's Parliament, Vice-President of Azerbaijan's Academy of Sciences, Member of the Soviet Peace Committee, President of the Writer's Union in Baku, and recipient of both the Stalin and Lenin Prizes, twice each. He was loved by the regime and invited to read his poems in the presence of Stalin and to offer a toast in the presence of Winston Churchill. Vurgun's house in Baku has become a museum, you'll find it on 4 Teymur Aliyarbeyov St.

Fikrat Amirov - composer and musicianFikrat Amirov: (1922-1985). He was born in the northern city of Ganja, the son of  a  mugam singer. Among his father's circle was Bul-Bul, one of the most well known vocalists of the day. Bul-bul invited the Fikrat  to join musicians who were collecting folk songs. From an early age Fikrat began composing pieces for the piano. After graduating from Ganja Music College, Fikrat entered Baku State Conservatory and studied under Boris Zeidman and Uzeyir Hajibeyov. When in 1941 World War II reached the USSR, Amirov was drafted. Soon he ended up in hospital for shell shock and latter also operated following an intestinal disease. By 1943 he was back at the Conservatory, where he graduated. Fikrat was very methodical in his work, respecting discipline, cleanliness and order. His music is characterized by a clear melodic line, dramatic intensity and elements from folklore. Among his most outstanding pieces are works such as "Shur", "Azerbaijan Capriccio", "The Legend of Nasimi" and "Double Concerto for Violin, Piano and Orchestra". Besides composing, Amirov was also involved with numerous responsibilities related to music. He directed the Azerbaijan Opera and Ballet Theatre, presided over the Azerbaijan Composers' Union in the and headed the Soviet Composers' Union.

Bul-Bul in his youthBul-Bul: (1897-1971). Born in Shusha, in the Nagorno Karabakh region, Bul-Bul (meaning nightingale) is Emblematic of Azerbaijan, as an artist who made the best synthesis of east and west. Having started his career as a "khanade" folk singer, in 1921 he entered the Azerbaijan State conservatoire to get a classical musical education, later completing his studies in Milan. With these experiences, he went on to transfer his oriental singing into the European singing school, in the process creating a new vocal tradition in Azerbaijan, probably one of the first experiments in what is now called "World Music". He was a singer, an actor, a teacher, a musical researcher and innovator, attracting the highest honours conferred by the government of his time. In Baku you can visit the Bul-bul  Museum  on 15 Bul-bul Av.
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