Shovkat Mammadova

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Shovkat Mammadova
Shovkat Mammadova
Background information
Born (1897-04-18)18 April 1897
Tbilisi, present-day Georgia
Died 8 June 1981(1981-06-08) (aged 84)
Baku, Azerbaijan
Genres Opera
Years active 1912–1940s

Shovkat Hasan qizi Mammadova (Azerbaijani: Şövkət Məmmədova) (18 April 1897, Tbilisi – 8 June 1981, Baku) was an Azerbaijani opera singer (lyric coloratura soprano) and music instructor.

Early life and musical career

Mammadova was born in 1897 in Tiflis (present-day Tbilisi, Georgia) to a low-class Azeri family. Her father, a shoemaker, noticed her incredible musical talent when Shovkat was 6. In 1910, he managed to find a sponsor, who agreed to promote her talent at a banquet organized by the vice-regent of the Caucasus, Count Illarion Vorontsov-Dashkov. In 1911, she left for Milan, Italy to pursue a musical degree at the Milan Conservatory with the financial help of an Azeri multimillionaire, Zeynalabdin Taghiyev and his wife Sona.[1] However in 1912, their sponsorship was discontinued for undisclosed reasons, and Mammadova had to return home. That same year she enrolled in a program at a music school in Tiflis. At the age of 15, she made her first stage appearance at the Taghiyev Theatre in Baku, performing a piece from Uzeyir Hajibeyov's Husband and Wife. In 1915, she got admitted to a post-secondary program at the Kiev Conservatory, where she met Reinhold Glière, a Russian composer. Glière showed keen interest in Azeri folk music and Mammadova's acquaintanceship resulted in his visit to the Karabakh region, where he got to meet with a number of professional mugham performers. Later in 1934, he would compose his famous Shakh-Senem based on his impressions and experiences from this trip, and dedicate it to Mammadova. By that time, she would already be widely known as a talented opera singer. Beginning in 1921, Mammadova toured Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Paris, Milan, Tabriz, and Tbilisi performing arias from La Traviata, Barber of Seville, Rigoletto, Les Huguenots, etc. She also managed to complete her studies in Milan in 1927–1930 and head back to Azerbaijan to go on with her career at the State Opera and Ballet Theatre in Baku.

Career as a music instructor

In 1923, Shovkat Mammadova founded the Musical Notes Publishing House as well as the Baku Theatrical College (nowadays known as the Azerbaijan State University of Culture and Arts). She was later appointed the Chair of the Vocal Department at the Azerbaijan State Conservatory, where she professionally trained young vocalists until her death in 1981.


In 1915, while studying at the Kiev Conservatory, Mammadova married Jacob Lubarsky, an engineer whom she had met in Milan three years earlier.


  1. Shovkat Mammadova, Audacious Challenge by Fuad Akhundov. Azerbaijan International. Winter 1997 (retrieved 26 August 2006)

See also