Ilyas Mirzayev was born in Baku, Azerbaijan (which was then in the Soviet Union) on 11th May 1961. His father was the famous Soviet composer Musa Mirzayev, and it was from his father that he received his first lessons in music. From 1979 to 1984 he attended the Composition department of the Baku Conservatoire, graduating with highest honors. Following this, he spent two years at the Moscow Conservatoire as a post-graduate student of composition.
Among Mirzayev’s teachers were Djevdet Hadjiyev, a pupil of Dimitri Shostakovich, plus world-famous contemporary composers Alfred Schnittke and Edison Denisov.
When Mirzayev began working with the legendary jazz musician Vagif Mustafazadeh (the father of Aziza Mustafazadeh), he was still only 16 years of age. It is to this man that he owes his love of jazz. Mirzayev states that his intention was to begin where Vagif Mustafazadeh, who has since passed away, had left off – and this wish was to some extent fulfilled thanks to ‘International Project’, the group Mirzayev founded in Turkey in 1997. Having founded his first jazz group in 1985, his preference has always been making music together with musicians from different countries and cultures since then.
After taking part in the international ‘Summer Evenings’ festival in Kiev in 1999, Mirzayev gave several concerts with the jazz musicians he had met in the Ukraine.
Since then, he has played in a number of jazz festivals with groups of musicians from different nationalities. In one of these concerts, he had the distinction of performing together with Joe Zawinul.
During Ilyas Mirzayev’s musical career in Turkey, he has produced a considerable number of orchestral compositions and chamber works. The Nay Concerto he wrote for the Tekfen Black Sea (then Philharmonic) Orchestra has up to now been performed – and extremely well received – in twelve countries apart from Turkey, and still continues to reach an international audience with the celebrated nay virtuoso Ercan Irmak playing the solo part.
Mirzayev’s symphony entitled ‘The Sound of Three Seas’, written subsequent to his Nay Concerto, was performed in Paris, Brussels and Berlin in 2006 by the Tekfen Philharmonic Orchestra (which includes musicians from 23 different countries), again with Ercan Irmak as one of the soloists. A CD featuring concert performance of this work is also published.
On 21st April 2007, another symphony – this time entitled ‘An Istanbul Symphony’ – was performed by the Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Alexander Rahbari, one of world’s leading conductors.
Davet (‘Invitation’), another Mirzayev composition, had been given a rapturous reception at the Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall, Istanbul the previous year with Ercan Irmak on nay and the composer himself at the piano. This work is also available as CD in music shops.
The works of Mirzayev, who combines his mastery with his high knowledge of orchestration using contemporary music and eastern music in a multicolored form, were performed by nearly all Turkish and Azerbaijani orchestras as well as NDR (Norddeutscher Rundfunk) Orchestra Hamburg, Wüttembergische Philharmonie, Thüringen Symphoniker, Residentie Orkest (Den Haag), Orchestra of the Nations, Tbilisi Symphony, Camerata Zurich, Virtuosi di Praga and London Mozart Players, to name a few. His concerto “Janus in Orient” for two pianos, nay/organ, percussion and orchestra, commissioned by the renowned turkish piano twins Guher and Suher Pekinel has been performed at home and abroad to critical acclaim.
His works including 5 symphonies, 8 concertos for various instruments and numerous chamber compositions have been performed in arts centers including Tokyo, Berlin, Barcelona, London, Vienna, Moscow, Paris, Cologne, Budapest, Brussels and Istanbul.
lyas Mirzayev about his music:
“With my music, I am trying to communicate a message of brotherhood. Today, language is used more as a way of emphasising the divisions between people than as a means of bringing them together. Music, however, has never lost its power as a language that unites people; it is an ideal tool for ending wars and restoring peace. The music of the east is mystical in character and offers many riches, but these have yet to be discovered. We should never neglect our own culture: this is a storehouse of treasures that is always available to us. As a citizen of the world, I see my music as a way of communicating my philososphy to all humanity – by doing this, I am repaying my debt to the Almighty.”