Gunel Mirzayeva

PIANIST & CREATIVE THINKER

Current Projects

BACH MUGHAM

While exploring the impact of Islamic and Western art in Azerbaijani classical music, I discovered considerable shared traits with national oral traditions, architecture and carpet-making. The character of symmetry and repetition in these crafts offer possibilities of infinite expansion. What are the limits of ornamentation in music for classical pianists? Can it be infinite in its concept and expand through improvisation? My researched ideas during the doctoral studies opened a world of new musical possibilities, including the integration of mugham into Bach’s music. Mugham is the foundation of Azerbaijani classical music traditions. As a highly-embellished genre, mugham consists of improvised melodic patterns explored throughout repeated sections within a composition. The frame surrounding a pattern appears to be important and provides a unit from which the rest of the design is projected. These combinations of elements have also shaped and enriched the decorative embroidery called arabesque patterns. The transposition of mugham and Bach’s original text relies on my personal interpretational sense of balance and spontaneity. I studied and re-arranged different, symmetrical and asymmetrical patterns of each unit and then contemplated it within unified musical flow.

Bach mugham project

Audio

Bach mugham project

audio

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Future Projects

VARIATIONS ON GOLDBERG

The roots of my love for Bach go back to my earliest days as a child, when I was first acquainted with his music through the recordings of Glenn Gould. This inspired me to pursue my dream of learning and performing Bach’s music. Over the past few years, I investigated the fundamental aesthetics of improvisation in his keyboard repertoire. Formulating new embellishment methods in Variations on Goldberg, my arrangement of Goldberg Variations often departs from its original text, revealing my personal interpretation of Bach’s masterpiece.

ART COLLABORATION PREMIERE IN 2023

Video collaboration with Viktor Erik Emanuel
releasing Spring/Summer 2023

Future Projects

VARIATIONS ON GOLDBERG

The roots of my love for Bach go back to my earliest days as a child, when I was first acquainted with his music through the recordings of Glenn Gould. This inspired me to pursue my dream of learning and performing Bach’s music. Over the past few years, I investigated the fundamental aesthetics of improvisation in his keyboard repertoire. Formulating new embellishment methods in Variations on Goldberg, my arrangement of Goldberg Variations often departs from its original text, revealing my personal interpretation of Bach’s masterpiece.

ART COLLABORATION PREMIERE IN 2022

Video collaboration with Viktor Erik Emanuel
releasing Summer/Autumn 2022

About Me

About Me

With a lifelong passion for J. S. Bach’s music, I have developed a deeply personal performance approach, weaving together Western and Eastern musical styles. I’ve constantly sought to improve my musical knowledge and in 2006, I moved to London from Azerbaijan. The performance opportunities that followed, helped me gain invaluable experience as a concert pianist.

Some of my most memorable performances include concerts at the Wigmore Hall, the Barbican Hall in London, and Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.

My pursuit of exploring cross-cultural interpretation began in 2016, and this led to a discovery of cultural similarities between Baroque, Azerbaijani piano music and mugham improvisation. The impulse to share new ideas inspires me to create musical projects and modern interpretations of Bach’s music.

Scroll down for some of my most important moments of inspiration as an artist!

About Me

With a lifelong passion for J. S. Bach’s music, I have developed a deeply personal performance approach, weaving together Western and Eastern musical styles. I’ve constantly sought to improve my musical knowledge and in 2006, I moved to London from Azerbaijan. The performance opportunities that followed, helped me gain invaluable experience as a concert pianist.

Some of my most memorable performances include concerts at the Wigmore Hall, the Barbican Hall in London, and Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.

My pursuit of exploring cross-cultural interpretation began in 2016, and this led to a discovery of cultural similarities between Baroque, Azerbaijani piano music and mugham improvisation. The impulse to share new ideas inspires me to create musical projects and modern interpretations of Bach’s music.

Scroll down for some of my most important moments of inspiration as an artist!

Timeline

London September 2015; DMus programme at the GSMD
Full of motivation to learn, I enrolled on the Doctoral programme under the tutelage of Ronan O’Hora, David Dolan, Razia Sultanova and Claire Taylor-Jay

Lucerne November 2016; Masterclasses with Prof. Robert Levin
One of the leading experts on classical improvisation, Robert Levin, offered me guidance on the interpretation of Bach’s keyboard repertoire.

Salzburg August 2017; Mozarteum International Summer Academy Continuing my work with Robert Levin has expanded my focus on introducing embellishment practises in Bach’s Suites, Mozart and Scarlatti Sonatas. During the summer of 2017, I started researching historical and cultural methods of improvisation in Bach’s Goldberg Variations, Fikrat Amirov’s Variations for Piano and Azerbaijani mugham.

Leipzig February 2018; Bach-Archiv Leipzig
During my one-week studies with Robert Levin in Leipzig, I began implementing my own ideas to repeated sections in Bach’s Partitas, French & English Suites. Through my work on Gara Garayev’s compositions, I became deeply interested in contrapuntal Azerbaijani piano repertoire.

Banff December 2018; Banff Artist Residency
The two-week residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity was very memorable for me and it was where my research on Bach-Mugham crystallised.

London June 2019; Doctoral Recital
A special day for me! The recital at the Milton Court Concert Hall showcased how the four-year research period enabled me to express a renewed understanding of music through my native roots.

Click here to read my doctoral thesis

Paris November/December 2019; Cité des Arts Artist Residency
My two-month artist residency at the heart of Le Marais in Paris inspired me to continue refining my work on Variations on Goldberg. The unique atmosphere of researching, exploring art, performing and living in Paris helped me to expand my artistic imagination.

London March 2020; Doctor of Music Award
Only a week before the national lockdown in the United Kingdom, I was awarded the degree of Doctor of Music. I could not be more grateful to my family, teachers, friends and everyone else who inspired me to keep pursuing this exciting musical journey!

London September 2015; DMus programme at the GSMD
Full of motivation to learn, I enrolled on the Doctoral programme under the tutelage of Ronan O’Hora, David Dolan, Razia Sultanova and Claire Taylor-Jay

Lucerne November 2016; Masterclasses with Prof. Robert Levin
One of the leading experts on classical improvisation, Robert Levin, offered me guidance on the interpretation of Bach’s keyboard repertoire.

Salzburg August 2017; Mozarteum International Summer Academy
Continuing my work with Robert Levin has expanded my focus on introducing embellishment practises in Bach’s Suites, Mozart and Scarlatti Sonatas. During the summer of 2017, I started researching historical and cultural methods of improvisation in Bach’s Goldberg Variations, Fikrat Amirov’s Variations for Piano and Azerbaijani mugham.

Leipzig February 2018; Bach-Archiv Leipzig
During my one-week studies with Robert Levin in Leipzig, I began implementing my own ideas of the repeated sections in Bach’s Partitas, French & English Suites. Through my work on Gara Garayev’s compositions, I became deeply interested in contrapuntal Azerbaijani piano repertoire.

Banff December 2018; Banff Artist Residency
The two-week residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity was very memorable for me and it was where my research on Bach-Mugham crystallised.

London June 2019; Doctoral Recital
A special day for me! The recital at the Milton Court Concert Hall showcased how the four-year research period enabled me to express a renewed understanding of music through my native roots.

Click here to read my doctoral thesis

Paris November/December 2019; Cité des Arts Artist Residency
My two-month artist residency at the heart of Le Marais in Paris inspired me to continue refining my work on Variations on Goldberg. The unique atmosphere of researching, exploring art, performing and living in Paris helped me to expand my artistic imagination.

London March 2020; Doctor of Music Award
Only a week before the national lockdown in the United Kingdom, I was awarded the degree of Doctor of Music. I could not be more grateful to my family, teachers, friends and everyone else who inspired me to keep pursuing this exciting musical journey!

Dates

14 June
NMC Records
Big Lockdown Music Map Launch
https://www.nmcrec.co.uk/nmc-lockdown-map
Bach-Mugham Part III
https://soundcloud.com/nmcrecordings/gunel-mirzayeva-bach-mugham

12 July 12pm
LAGRASSE, France
En Blanc et Noir Piano Festival
Bach Piano Recital
Tickets: www.enblancetnoir.com 

23 July 5pm
LONDON, UK
Freemasons’ Hall
Piano Recital
Tickets: www.ugle.org.uk 

25 July 4pm
LISBON, Portugal
The 46th ICTM World Conference
NOVA School of Social Sciences and Humanities
New University of Lisbon
Performance/Presentation on “Bach-Mugham”
Tickets: www.ictm2022.org  

4 September 5pm
SURSEE, Switzerland
Klosterkirche Sursee
Bach Piano Recital
Tickets: https://klangraum-sursee.ch/

10 September 7.30pm
LONDON, UK
Freemasons’ Hall
Piano Recital
Tickets: www.ugle.org.uk

 17 September 7.30pm
OLDENBURG, Germany
Private Concert: Bach Piano Recital
Tickets: Invitation only