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Nurgissa Tlendiyev. Principal Conductor of Kazakhstan

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Nurgissa Tlendiyev. Principal Conductor of Kazakhstan
Composer Nurgissa Tlendiyev was a friend of Mukagali Makatayev and Dinmukhamed Kunayev, he added two years in his passport to go to the front and almost became a ballet dancer.

Qazaqstan Tarihy will introduce readers to the life of the great Kazakh who has devoted his life to music.  

Nurgisa's parents were quite respected people in the region. The boy's father, Atabay, played the dombra well and was a connoisseur of Kazakh folk songs. His mother Saliha loved music as much as her husband, sang and even played harmonics. On April 1, 1927, Nurgissa Tlendiyev was born into a talented family.

Nurgissa grew up to be an active and inquisitive child, he was in tight spot several times. Nurgissa himself said that the mother, who tried to protect him from harm, sometimes had to tie his son's leg to a tree, so that he did nothing wrong. Therefore, parents taught him to play the dombra in hope to control his energy. When he was four years old, he was given a piano and his mother began to teach him to write notes. It turned out to be a fateful decision for Nurgissa.

The next decision didn't take long. In 1933, the boy met with Akhmet Zhubanov. Many years later Nurgissa told that Zhubanov at that time was actively looking for dombra players for the newly formed Kurmangazy Academic Folk Instruments Orchestra. One day he walked past Nurgissa’s house and heard the sounds of the dombra. Zhubanov wondered who was playing the instrument so masterly. Seeing a six-year-old child, the composer asked his mother for permission to listen to his son's play again. His mother Saliha (left in the photo) agreed, but with only one condition: she hung a curtain between her son and Zhubanov, thus protecting the child from the evil eye. Akhmet Zhubanov listened to the boy's performance for a long time and finally urged him to go to the music school. This advice was akin to the recognition of the six-year-old child’s talent.

Saliha took the boy to the school, but Zhubanov was not there. In his absence, another composer, Latif Hamidi, took over the new student and settled the boy in a dance class. What a surprise it was for Zhubanov, who had returned from his business trip and saw that the talented dombra player was attending ballet classes properly! Soon Zhubanov was transferred to a music class.

Friendship with Akhmet Zhubanov and gratitude to him Nurgissa Tlendiev carried through all his life. Nurgissa Tlendiyev told about him the following:  

"Zhubanov taught me everything: to love and understand folk and classical music, to work and find the joy of creativity, to love life in all its manifestations. I owe him what I have become”.  

Nurgissa Tlendiyev's skills were only growing at school. At the age of twelve he was already appointed orchestra concertmaster, and at fourteen he assisted the orchestra's chief conductor, taking over the experience of Nausha Bokeikhanov, a student of Salauatkerey. After graduation, Akhmet Zhubanov ordered the dombra for his student, which Nurgissa later named after his wife Dariga.

In 1943, Nurgissa Tlendiyev went to the front. A sixteen-year-old boy, as well as many young people of that time, changed the date of his birth in his passport, adding a couple of years. Therefore, it was believed that Nurgissa Tlendiyev was born on April 1, 1925. From 1943 to May 9, 1945, Nurgissa Tlendiyev went from the Battle of Kursk to conquest of Berlin, he was wounded several times in the battles.

After the end of the war he was awarded medals "For Courage", "For the capture of Berlin" and "For the victory in the Great Patriotic War". After the end of the war, Nurgissa Tlendiyev thought about continuing his military service. Akhmet Zhubanov even had to write letters to the chiefs of the military district with a request to return Tlendiyev to his homeland, arguing that the need for gifted musicians after the war will be acute. Eventually, Nurgissa Tlendiyev was mobilized in October 1945.  

Read also: Fighters’ fate who took the Reichstag  

In 1948, Nurgissa Tlendiyev successfully passed exams to Kurmangazy Kazakh State Conservatory. He studied at Folk Instruments Department for two years.

After graduating, Nurgisa went to Moscow to study at the local conservatory, becoming the first Kazakh to open the doors of the school. Here, he studied conducting under the Soviet master Nikolay Anossov, and practiced at the Bolshoi Theatre. After graduation, in 1953, Nurgissa Tlendiyev was accepted as the chief conductor of Abay Kazakh Opera and Ballet Theatre. During his work in the theater the audience enjoyed his works: ballet-poem "Orteke" (1957), ballet "Dear Friendship". (1958) and the cantata "My Kazakhstan" (1959). For these works he received the Order of the Red Banner of Labor and the title of Honored Worker of Arts of the Kazakh SSR.  

Little known fact: before Dariga Tlendiyeva Nurgissa already had a wife, Natella Saimova, from whom he had a daughter Saule in April 1960.  

In 1961, Nurgissa Tlendiyev was approved as the chief conductor of Kurmangazy Kazakh State Academic Folk Instruments Orchestra. At the same time, he held the position of artistic director of the orchestra. In these positions he worked only three years, but it was one of the most fruitful periods of his career. Together with the Uyghur composer, the founder of the Uyghur professional music Kuddus Kuzhamyarov he wrote the opera "Golden Mountains", acted as the author of the orchestral poem "Ata Tolgau", overture "Halyk Kuanyshy" and "Qairat". By the way, their joint work "Golden Mountains" was staged only once, on the day of the premiere, and then was filmed because the work touched on the topic of forced collectivization. It should be noted that Nurgissa Tlendiyev was a composer of the cult Kazakh film "My name is Qozha" directed by Abdulla Karsakbayev.

Nurgissa Tlendiyev and Abdulla Karsakbayev were good friends. Thanks to him, Nurgissa met his second wife, actress Dariga Omarova. Seeing her, Nurgissa Tlendiyev asked his friend, the director of the film, to introduce him to her. After a while they met again, during a picnic near the river Almatinka, dedicated to foreign guests of the studio. Time went by the end of the event, but it turned out that the car that was supposed to pick them up did not come for Nurgissa and Dariga. They spent time together all night and after some time decided to marry.  

In 1968, Nurgissa was approved as the chief editor of the musical department of "Kazakhfilm". He wrote music for the animation film "Why is Swallow’s Tail Forked", movies "Melon", "Red Yurt", "Chase in the Steppe", "Journey to Childhood", "Blue Route", "My Brother", "Hey you, cowboys!", “Alpamys Goes to School", where Dariga Omarova played the role of Kalikhan, Alpamys’s mother, and the famous film "Kyz-Zhibek". The composer wrote "Akku" specially for "Kyz-Zhibek".

During the years of his work in "Kazakhfilm" Nurgissa Tlendiyev got close to the outstanding poets of Kazakhstan of that time. One of his closest friends was Mukagali Makatayev.

The fate brought Tlendiyev and Makatayev together in the last years of the Kazakh poet's life. By the autumn of 1975, the whole of Kazakhstan had heard of Makatayev, whose poems make hearts tremble. At the same time Tlendiyev addressed Mukagali with an offer to translate his poems into a song. Mukagali agreed and soon the work began. For thirty days that Makataev lived in Tlendiyev's apartment, they recorded thirty-two songs, among them were "Saryjaılaý", "Sálem saǵan Jetіsý", "Oshaq otyń sónbesіn", "Men senі іzdedіm" and others.

Makatayev died at the end of March 1976, which was unexpected for Nurgissa. He suffered the death of a friend, spent several months in the hospital. Interestingly, after a while he found a small note with Mukagali's handwriting in his jacket pocket, where it was written: 

 "It’s me. My illness is getting worse. I don't know what will happen. If possible, pay attention to it”.  

Together with the note in his jacket pocket was an edited version of Makataev's poem "Think of me", in which the emotional loneliness of the poet is expressed more severe than in the version of 1966.

In 1981, the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Kazakh SSR Dinmukhamed Kunayev suggested that Tlendiyev should head the orchestra of folk instruments "Otyrar Sazy". This orchestra was very different from those led by Nurgissa. It was founded on the basis of the ensemble created by ethnographer Bolat Sarybayev. Instead of the usual string and keyboard instruments, it used unique instruments of medieval musical culture of Otyrar. These were both sazsyrnai and sybyzgly, which were made by modern masters. The orchestra was looking for musicians who tried to play such instruments. Needless to say, Nurgissa Tlendiyev was interested in this offer and agreed. Nurgissa Tlendiyev directed this orchestra for the rest of his life.
The Tlendiyevs were in close contact with Dinmukhamed Kunayev, and they were even neighbours. Nurgissa Tlendiyev's daughter Dinzukhra (by the way, named after the Kunaevs - Dinmukhamed and Zukhra) told us that she often stayed with Dinmukhamed Kunayev in childhood:

  "We often visited them and Dinmukhamed Kunayev treated us to foreign sweets, which he brought from trips. One chewing gum brought us joy. It was Dinmukhamed Kunayev who brought me first backpack, and after the death of his wife Zukhra Sharipovna he gave me a doll from her collection for one of my birthdays...

  In addition to the Tlendiyev’s daughter, they raised Nurgissa’s niece Larisa, the daughter of a brother, who went missing in the war.

 Nurgissa Tlendiyev died on October 15, 1998, at the age of seventy-one. For years of work he has collected set of ranks and awards, including "National Hero of Kazakhstan", "Honored Worker of Arts of the Kazakh SSR", "National actor of the Kazakh SSR" and "People’s Artist of the USSR". His name is eternalized in the names of music schools, museums and streets. Bronze busts and documentary films were made in his honour. One of the streets is named after him.

Dana Tugambekova