“Baku has managed to keep its identity in every way – including its musical traditions” says Mrs Leyla Aliyeva

“The annual transition from year to year is a time traditionally associated with many pleasant feelings and celebrations. We enjoy the smell of the Christmas tree, the exciting rustle of wrapping-paper on the presents, the unmissable aroma of our festive dishes, and the smiling faces of our loved ones all around. And of course – the music. Running all the way from “A fir-tree was born in the forest” through to all the hits of our yesteryears, that we hear every year in every home” - writes Leyla Aliyeva on her Editor's Page in Baku Magazine, where she is the Chief Editor.

Baku Magazine has a tradition to begin each new year with a message to the magazine's readers from the Editor, Mrs Leyla Aliyeva –  always titled “Feeling Great!”.

“I'm still sure that Baku has managed to keep its identity in every way – including its musical identity.  In the outgoing year we had some wonderful music in Baku. There were the participants in the International Mugham Festival, and soloists of Helikon Opera... there were performances by major names in jazz, concerts in the Gabalinsky Festival. People have a strong memory for Kara Karaev and Muslim Magomaev, and keep those performances still in mind” Mrs Aliyeva writes, in her Editorial.

Mrs Aliyeva had special memories “of the genius of Uzeir Hajibekov”, who found the way for Azeri mugham and ashug to blend with European music. “So great was his influence on Azerbaijani music, that he could even achieve this synthesis of East and West at the level of domestic music-producing. It was thanks to Hajibekov that such instruments as the tar, violin, kyamancha, cello, lute and piano could play in dialogue, and the wonderful singer Bülbül could sing both operatic arias and mugham. This subtle combination of the traditional with new developments went through into our system of education due to the great composer, and which means that our singers are performing both on the stage of the Berlin Opera, and in Eurovision.

Leyla Aliyeva writes that in Baku, people study music wherever enthusiasts gather together. “The KVN tradition of concerts that was set up by Julius Gusman, the way Elchin Azizov has moved from the KVN to the Bolshoi Theatre, and the mugham-influenced jazz compositions of Isfar Sarabsky – these are all superb examples of what I mean”.

Her article goes on to mention that “many different phenomena contribute to the formation of Baku's musical life”. “This is what enables people in Baku to create a wonderfully eclectic mix of the best of everything, and treat music like a drink that lifts the human spirit. And that's how people greet the New Year, in the most cheerful of spirits - surrounded by their friends, and accompanied by the most wonderful music, to see in 2014”.

The latest issue of Baku Magazine gives readers a chance to find out about the very best cultural events in the Azeri capital in most recent months. These included a concert by the Tchaikovsky Symphonic Orchestra in a program dedicated to Azerbaijan's beloved national leader Heydar Aliyev; an exhibition about the American Space Program held at the Heydar Aliyev Centre; the premiere of a film of the life of singer Muslim Magomayev at the UNS Theatre; the opening of the film “Don't Worry, I'm With You” at the Heydar Aliyev Palace; a personal retrospective exhibition by artist Lalla Essaidi at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and an international festival of films about tourism at the Nizami Cinecentre.

The magazine has a special report about the opening of the Heydar Aliyev Centre, with an interview with the building's architect – the world-famous Zaha Hadid, and with founder of Moscow's Helikon Opera, Dmitry Bertman.

Another report in the magazine presents an account of a special anniversary evening, dedicated to the 60th birthday of Aydin Kurbanov – the famous Azeri businessman, philanthropist, and one of the founders of the All-Russia Azerbaijani Congress. Also covered in the magazine is an exhibition by Reza Deggati called “Azerbaijan, The Land Of Tolerance”, which opened at the Azerbaijan Cultural Centre in Paris; articles about presentations which took place in Baku to celebrate the second anniversary of “Baku International” magazine, the Miss Universe competition, being held for the first time at Crocus City Centre in Moscow, and other events of the last few months.

And for culinary fans, this issue of Baku Magazine also has the authentic recipe for preparing a classic of Azerbaijani cuisine – gürzy.