Sunday Russians will remember Muslim Magomayev, the “Soviet Frank Sinatra” with a concert to mark the one-year anniversary of his death. Magomayev is regarded as one of the most popular singers in modern Russian history.
The list of talented singers include Iosif Kobzon, Dima Bilan and Igor Butman and others who will pay tribute to Magomayev. Just as Magomayev was so talented across musical boundaries, the concert will feature a variety of music as varied as the Soviet superstar, with styles ranging from pop to classical.
Born in Baku, the capital of former Soviet republic Azerbaijan, Magomayev came from an artistic family and studied at the region’s music conservatory. But it was a performance at a youth festival in Helsinki at the age of 19, and another a year later at the Kremlin in 1962, that made him famous. He became a favorite among the Kremlin elite under Khrushchev, Brezhnev and Andropov, and his unique baritone was admired by several generations of listeners.
Over the years his popularity grew and Magomayev concerts filled stadiums and he sold millions of records. For many, he was a pop star, but Magomayev had a huge repertoire and could sing opera and jazz, as well as traditional Russian songs.
Winning official approval so early in his career meant that unlike most Soviet citizens, he was able to travel and work abroad. He went to study in Italy at the La Scala opera house in Milan and then at the Olympia Theater in Paris before returning to Moscow. According to one story, he was called back because those in the Kremlin missed hearing him sing.
If you miss Sunday’s event, another tribute concert, “There is No Song Without You,” will take place at the Moscow International House of Music on Nov. 1. The concert, featuring the group Tenors of the XXI Century, is dedicated to Magomayev and Armenian composer Arno Babadzhanyan. The duo who had almost 50 hit songs together.
Hats off to a true giant. He, like his American friend Sinatra, did it “My Way.”