ABOUT ILYAS MALAYEV
(b Mary, Turkmenistan, 12 Jan 1936). Bukharan Jewish musician, oral traditional composer and poet. Growing up in Kattakurgan, a small city near Bukhara, now in the republic of Uzbekistan, he played the tanbūr from an early age and learnt the shash makom, the orally transmitted court music tradition of the later Bukharan feudal nobility, from local teachers as well as from phonograph records. In 1951 Malayev moved to Tashkent, the capital of Soviet Uzbekistan, where he performed in a succession of state musical ensembles including the Uzbek Song and Dance Ensemble (1952–60), the Ensemble of Singers and Dancers of the Peoples of the World under the direction of Tamara Khanum (1953–6), the Folk and Variety (Estrada) Orchestras of Uzbekistan Radio (1956–62), and from 1962 to 1992, the Symphonic Variety (Estrada) Orchestra of Uzbekistan Radio. Malayev became popular in Uzbekistan as a vaudeville performer and wedding entertainer, combining comedic routines, poetic recitation, excerpts from the shash makom and songs, many with his own texts and melodies. In 1992 Malayev emigrated to Queens, New York, where he quickly established himself as a leading cultural figure in the Bukharan Jewish émigré community. As the music featured at weddings and other social events in the émigré community has moved towards hybrid forms of popular music performed by a younger generation of musicians, Malayev's focus has turned to the classical shash makom.

Leading a group of fellow Bukharan Jewish singers and instrumentalists known variously as Maqam-i Nawa and the Ilyas Malayev Ensemble, Malayev has become well known among ‘world music’ audiences in the USA and Europe for his interpretations of Bukharan classical music. 'My purpose in life was to leave something that will be remembered for decades or centuries,'' he said. ''I have done that in the United States by publishing my book.'' In one of the poems, translated by Mr. Feldman, Mr. Malayev wrote: In one of the poems, translated by Mr. Feldman, Mr. Malayev wrote:

In my heart I long to hear sweet words

In my heart I long to see the graceful strutting of the peacock

The turning of the wheel of fortune won't bring me to my dear one's feast,

But in my heart I hear the screams of that revolving sphere.

                                                                                                                                                             Ильяс Малаев