Astana Opera House Marks 115th Anniversary of Kazakh composers Akhmet Zhubanov and Latif Khamidi With Performance of “Abai” Opera

NUR-SULTAN – This year, Kazakhstan celebrates the 115th anniversary of Kazakh composers Akhmet Zhubanov and Latif Khamidi.

On different days Honored Workers of Kazakhstan and theater’s leading soloists Talgat Mussabayev and Azamat Zheltyrguzov (debut) will present the part of Abai. A scene from “Abai” opera. Photo credit: Astana Opera House.

To mark these anniversaries, the Astana Opera House staged the “Abai” opera on April 29, reported the theater’s press service. The play will also be presented on July 17, on the day when  Latif Khamidi was born. 

Honored Worker of Kazakhstan and theater’s principal conductor Alan Buribayev, who performed during the opera, shared memories about his great-grandfather Zhubanov. 

Akhmet Zhubanov. Photo credit:

Buribayev said that he learnt about Zhubanov from his family and also studied his music and literary heritage. “His image has been with me since childhood. My mother Sholpan Zhubanova, Akhmet Kuanovich’s eldest granddaughter, tells me a lot about him. My grandfather, academician, Professor Bulat Zhubanov, as well as, now living, the composer’s youngest daughter, academician, Azhar Zhubanova, shared with me many of their memories of him,” he added. 

Zhubanov was a man of many talents who can be compared with Leonardo da Vinci, a great Renaissance figure, according to Buribayev. He was a musicologist and researcher, an author of books on Kazakh music.

Alan Buribayev was awarded the Laureate of the State Prize of Kazakhstan for the production of “Abai” opera in 2018. Photo credit: Astana Opera House.

“Zhubanov made a translation of a book about Paganini, which, unfortunately, was lost by the publisher. When I conducted the “Abai” opera during the Astana Opera’s tour in Italy, in Genoa, the homeland of Paganini, I thought about this invisible connection between Zhubanov and Paganini,” said Buribayev.

The music of the “Abai” opera created by Zhubanov and Khamidi has a powerful effect on the audience, says Buribayev. “Once, a spectator came up to me after a performance in Paris with tears in her eyes, saying, ‘This music is about me.’ For me, conducting the opera Abai is an exciting experience.” 

Zhubanov (1906-1968) is a well-known composer, a musicologist, ethnographic researcher of Kazakh folk songs, a writer-historian, and a conductor. He was one of the founders of the Kazakh professional musical art. The list of his works include “Abai” and “Tulegen Tokhtarov” operas (he wrote together with Latif Khamidi), Kurmangazy march of memory, Kazakh instruments for the orchestra – four suites and other compositions.

He was the founder, first conductor and artistic director of the Kazakh National Orchestra. He contributed to the opening of the Zhambyl Kazakh State Philharmonic.  He was a member of the board of the Union of Composers of the USSR and a member of the organizing committee of the Union of Composers of Kazakhstan.

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