Bulbul (singer)

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Birth name Murtuza Mammadov
Born (1897-06-22)22 June 1897
Khanbaghi, Russian Empire
Died 26 September 1961(1961-09-26) (aged 64)
Baku, Azerbaijan, USSR
Genres Opera
Years active 1916–1961

Bulbul, (Azerbaijani: Bülbül, born Murtuza Rza oglu Mammadov, 22 June 1897 – 26 September 1961) was a famous Azerbaijani and Soviet opera tenor, folk music performer, and one of the founders of vocal arts and national musical theatre in Azerbaijan.


Bulbul pictured on Azerbaijani stamp

Bulbul was born in 1897 in the village of Khanbaghi is a village in Mulan Rural District, in the Central District of Kaleybar County, East Azerbaijan Province, Iran. He was known for his musical talent since his childhood, which is why people nicknamed him Bulbul ("nightingale" in Azerbaijani). He chose it as a stage name, when he became involved in professional music. While still a young khananda, he was invited to Baku in 1920 to perform the role of Karam in Uzeyir Hajibeyov's opera Asli and Karam. There he became acquainted with European-style opera and decided to excel in this genre. He later studied music and vocal arts at Azerbaijan State Conservatoire (now known as the Baku Academy of Music), where he was admitted in 1921, as well as in the La Scala Theatre in Milan, Italy.

In his songs, Bulbul was able to blend national manners of performance with traditions of Italian vocal school. He was also first to play the lead role of Koroglu in Uzeyir Hajibeyov's opera of the same name in 1938.[1] Throughout his life, Bulbul was the vocal performer and the co-author of a number of songs and romances.

Bulbul was also known for his music-related publications and teaching vocal arts at his alma mater, the Azerbaijan State Conservatoire between 1932 and 1961. He acquired a Ph.D. degree in music in 1940. His monographs nowadays serve as an important source for those studying Azerbaijani music. Bulbul was the first musician to publish study guides and manuals used in teaching students how to play the tar, kamancheh and balaban, traditional musical instruments of Azerbaijan.

Bulbul was awarded the highest order of the Soviet Union – the USSR State Prize, as well as the "Stella di Garibaldi" order in Italy.[2] He died in Baku.

His second son Polad Mammadov also known as Polad Bülbüloğlu, was from his second marriage to Adelaida Mammadova, also an accomplished singer and actress. Polad is the currently the Azerbaijani Ambassador to Russia.


Bulbul was buried at the Alley of Honor in Baku.

The Ministry of Culture of Azerbaijan purchased the bronze busts of Bulbul and several other famous Karabakh Azerbaijanis that had once been erected in Shusha, on the black market in Georgia. Following the Armenian occupation of Shusha in 1992, these monuments were machine-gunned, removed from their original place and intended to be sold as scrap metal. Nowadays these monuments are preserved in the courtyard of the Azerbaijani Museum of Arts in Baku.[3]

In 2008 the Central Bank of Azerbaijan minted a 100-manat gold commemorative coin dedicated to Bulbul.[4]

In October 2012 Bulbul's statue was unveiled in Baku. The author of the monument is sculptor Akif Asgarov. President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, principal of the Baku Music Academy, People's Artist Farhad Badalbeyli, People's Artist Arif Babayev, chair of the jury of the 4th Bulbul International Contest of Vocalists Sergei Leiferkus, artistic director of the contest Robert Koerner, son of the singer Polad Bulbuloglu attended at the ceremony.[5][6]

Awards and Decorations

People Artist of the USSR1.jpg People's Artist of the USSR (1938)
Medal Stalin Prize.png State Stalin Prize (1950)
Order of Lenin ribbon bar.png Order of Lenin (1946, 1956)
Orderredbannerlabor rib.png Order of the Red Banner of Labour (1936, 1958)
Order badge of honor rib.png Order of the Badge of Honour (1938)
Garibaldi Medal.png Garibaldi Partisan Star (Italy)


  1. Bulbul. Azworld.org
  2. (Russian) Azerbaijani Music. Azeri.ws
  3. Thomas De Waal, Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan through Peace and War, NYU Press, 2004, ISBN 0-8147-1945-7. Chapter 12: "Shusha: The Last Citadel".
  4. Central Bank of Azerbaijan. Commemorative coins. Coins produced within 1992-2010: Gold coin dedicated to the memory of Bulbul. – Retrieved on 25 February 2010.
  5. Prominent singer’s statue unveiled in Baku
  6. Ilham Aliyev attended a ceremony to unveil a statue of outstanding singer Bulbul

External links