Biography

Firouz Bakhor was born in Stalinabad, today’s Dushanbe, in 1942 and grew up in the former Soviet Republic of Tajikistan, as the son of opera singers Mulyuk Bakhor and Hadji Akhmedov. After his first piano lessons at the Tchaikovsky School of Music and following his education at the music conservatory of his home city, beginning in 1963, Bakhor studied piano at the Moscow Gnessin Institute and soon after, composition, having been inspired to do so already in Tajikistan through his personal encounter with the composer Yuri Ter-Ossipov. His teachers were G. I. Litinskij and, beginning in 1966, E. A. Khagagortyan with whom he continued to maintain close contact, also after he transferred to the Tashkent Conservatory, where he concluded his studies in composition in 1971.

Bakhor’s first successes came in his student days with his Piano Sonata op. 1 and the symphonic poem “Memorial for an Unknown Soldier”, which was awarded third prize in the nationwide Moscow Young Composers Competition in 1969. Bakhor achieved lasting popularity as early as 1971 with the orchestral piece “Marakanda”, the title of which honors the ancient Greek name for the city of Samarkand and its 2500-year existence.

From 1971 to 1996, Firouz Bakhor taught music theory at the state art conservatory in Tajikistan and assumed various functions in the composers’ union of Tajikistan. This chapter of his life is characterized by intense artistic creativity: four impressive symphonies, three ballets on Central Asian themes in addition to the philosophic opera “Omar Khayyam”, which was completed after 1996, in Germany. Bakhor’s chamber music oeuvre is principally comprised of works for piano and string instruments in addition to Lieder, cantatas, music for children, film and theater music.

Ever since he first started composing, Firouz Bakhor’s objective has been to unite traditions of the West with those of the East in his music. On the basis of an engagement with all artistic forms of expression, including those of literature and art, Bakhor draws his musical inspiration mainly from the traditions of his own cultural realm, as, for example, from the “Shashmaqam”, a collection of traditional melodies and musical arrangements from the Persian Middle Ages. Many of his compositions are in some way connected to the oriental modal system of the maqam, yet even when he approaches the musical experience through Eastern paths, he makes almost exclusive use of Western instruments. Familiar with classical and contemporary European compositional techniques from the time of his youth, he uses the abundant means available to him for his personal form of a style synthesis, without losing sight of his audience.

In the line of composers of the former USSR of the 70’s – 90’s, the works of Firouz Bakhor always occupied a special place, since Bakhor did not follow any fashions or trends. Thus, his “Drawings on Silk”, a cycle of 24 preludes and fugues for piano, could slowly and playfully come into being over the course of many years, until it was finally completed in Germany and honored with the first prize of the 5th International Prokofiev Composition Competition in St. Petersburg in 2008. More recently, Bakhor completed a piano concerto which was premiered in 2012 in Kiev in a version for string orchestra. Today, Firouz Bakhor lives in Berlin.

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