VIII International Music Festival in Samarkand
Sharq taronalari (Melodies of the East)
The festival was initiated in 1997 by His Excellency Islom Karimov, President of the Republic
of Uzbekistan, and is now held every two years under the aegis of UNESCO in Samarkand.
The festival takes place at the end of August, a few days before Uzbekistan’s Celebration
of Independence on September 1. For everyone, being fortunate to watch the performances
at Samarkand’s Registan, the festival is a heart-lifting event. But even those who can
only watch them from afar, sitting in front of a TV, are touched by the warm communal spirit
of the audience and the performers, fostered no doubt by the outstanding hospitality of the
people of Samarkand.
At last year’s festival (August 25th-30th) one participant from Italy expressed his feelings
for Uzbekistan and its people by going before the start of the performances onto the stage,
where he repeated emphatically in Uzbek: “I love Uzbekistan, I do love Uzbekistan!” This
caused His Excellency Islom Karimov to join him on the stage, where he embraced the visitor.
Indeed, the “Sharq Taronalari” festival, perceived as a celebration of traditional music in
its undisturbed form and played on original instruments, has become a unique event. At the
eighth festival delegations from over 50 countries, including European and African countries,
were present. It is for a good reason that this festival takes place in Samarkand. Six hundred
years ago the great ruler Amir Temur (1336-1405) organized similar musical festivals with participants coming from China, Arabia and countries in between, as we learn from the Zafarnoma of the famous historian Sharafiddin Ali Yazdiy. H. E. Islom Karimov, referring to this source, stated in his short address (published in O’zbekiston Adabiyoti va San’ati):
O’zingiz o’ylang, aziz do’stlar, birodarlar, bundan olti asr avval aynan mana shu Samarkand
zaminida mavjud bo’lgan madaniy an’analar va “Sharq Taronalari” festivalining
ruhi va goyalariga qanchalar uyg’un va hamahang”
(Think about it, dear friends and brothers, how similar and harmonious the spirit and
goals of the “Sharq Taronalari” festival are with the cultural traditions that existed in
this very place of Samarkand six hundred years ago).
1. Kenneth Weisbrode, ”Uzbekistan: In the Shadow of Tamerlane.” World Policy Journal,
14.1 (1997), 56.