Category: Uzbekistan

Komiljon Otaniyozov and I. Abdullaev – Yashi

Time for a classic performance from Uzbekistan, on a very late 78 rpm recording from ca. 1961.

Komiljon Otaniyozov (1917, Shovot – 1975, Tashkent) was from the northwest of Uzbekistan, in Khorezm, known for its ruins of ancient fortresses and monuments. A tar player and singer, Otaniyozov is regarded as one of the finest Khorezmian “bastakors” – almost the equivalent of a singer-songwriter, although technically they are responsible for the all-important melody, which is most often coupled with classic poetry. He had a lengthy career as a musician, speaker, and actor, and was associated with various local conservatories and ensembles. You can watch a few videos of him performing on YouTube, as well. I could find little more on Otaniyozov (also spelled Ataniyozov) that wasn’t in Uzbek, alas, and nothing on his accompanist on the doira frame drum, I. Abdullaev.


The history of the recording industry in Russia and the Soviet Union is complex, but a few details are worth repeating. Before the Russian Revolution, there was quite a lot of international recording activity in Russia and its territories, including Uzbekistan. By 1912, there were approximately 20,000 individual recordings issued, in 40 different languages. Most of these pre-Revolution recordings are quite rare (or virtually nonexistent in some cases), particularly those recorded in the territories. Between 1919 and 1933, there were some labels that re-pressed some of this older material, some newer material was recorded on various labels (Muzpred and Mustrust, for example), and the Gramophone Company’s equipment was moved to Aprelevka, outside of Moscow.

In 1933, the state-run, catch-all record company in the Soviet Union referred to as “Gramplasttrest” (Gramophone Record Trust) started operations. They began to produce a non-stop array of music beginning that year, ranging from a dizzying amount of classical music and nationalist/communist anthems and operas, to true regional music from Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Tajikistan, among other territories. I’ve written about this a little in the past: this state-run company had many associated labels, with the majority of them named after the location of their record production plants, such as Aprelevka, Riga, Leningrad, Noginsk, and Tashkent, among others. They were not the only recording company active during the Soviet era – some indies appeared in the 1950s – though they were by far the largest. This example would be approximately, judging by their numbering system, Gramplasttest’s 18,444th release in less than 30 years.

However, it appears that it took some time for a substantial amount of music of the Soviet territories to appear again. Some Uzbek material appeared in the 1930s on the Noginsk factory label, but it seems that the appearance of the Tashkent factory label (Tashkentski Zavod) in 1941 really opened things up. For the next 20 years on 78, the Tashkent label and the Soviet industry in general issued a host of traditional music from all the Russian territories, including Mongolia and Afghanistan. They, too, turn up rarely if ever.

Komiljon Otaniyozov with I. Abdullaev – Yashi

Label: Tashkentski Zavod
Issue Number: 36888
Matrix Number: 36888/1-1

Thanks to Reto. Information tallied from P. Gronow, the excellent, and other sources. And you can’t go wrong with the Topic CD Before the Revolution: A 1909 Recording Expedition in the Caucasus & Central Asia by the Gramophone Company.

Zainab Palvanova – Ofarin

Welcome to Excavated Shellac.

I feel like I have to say that every once in a while, both for anyone new who may have found themselves here, and for myself, to keep my motivation going. Excavated Shellac has been online for 18 months now, and I have shared a total of 81 different records. I still think it remains a unique spot – on the web, at least. I could conceivably do this for a long time, though I have no idea how long I will continue – just as I have no idea how long I will continue the collecting, the scheming, the acquiring, the hunting for these pieces of music that make me happy. I’ve been away for the past few weeks, so I wanted to say thank you to those who continue to stop by and listen, and for allowing me to indulge.

With that, we’re off to Uzbekistan, after World War II. Before 1917 and the Russian Revolution, quite a bit of recording was made in the Caucasus region and Central Asia, as European record companies were interested (somewhat amazingly) in exploring new markets in places like Tashkent and Tbilisi. Few original copies of those very early recordings have turned up (for a sample, I would recommend the Topic CD Before the Revolution). And, according to much of what I’ve been reading, very little recording was made in Central Asian regions between 1917 and the Second World War. However, in the early 1950s, the Russian label CCCP recorded “ethnic” folk music on 78 from the Caucasus to Central Asia and beyond. Some was imported into the United States even, with English translations on the label, presumably for immigrant communities or sold in Russian record stores. Still, even those are quite difficult to find today.

Zainab Palvanova’s piece, sung in Uzbek, is translated as “Glory” and she is accompanied by a “folk instruments orchestra” led by Y. Radzhabov. The folk instruments I can detect are at least one long-necked lute (probably a tar or dutar), the nay flute, at least one fiddle, and the unmistakable sound of the doira frame drum. It’s from ca. 1955.

Zainab Palvanova – Ofarin

For music from the CCCP label during this period, the Secret Museum’s Central Asia CD is heartily recommended.

Technical Notes
Label: CCCP
Issue Number: 24932 (a)
Matrix Number: 24932/4-1