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Toktogul Satilganov - Ming Kiyal (performed by The Chuy Chamber Orchestra)

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Published on May 30, 2011

Токтогул Сатылганов - Миң Кыял. The Chuy Chamber Orchestra's cover of Toktogul Satilganov's "Ming Kiyal", conducted by Rahatbek Osmonaliev.
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Toktogul Satylganov (1864-1933), born in Kushchusu, Kyrgyzstan was the most famous of the Kyrgyz Akyns - improvising poets and singers. His fame reached a high point in the Soviet era when his works were promoted by the state as a musician of the people and he was known throughout Kyrgyzstan simply as "Toktogul". This distinction was founded largely on his works in the pre-revolutionary era which were interpreted as reflecting the class struggle. Modern interpretations, however, suggest that they had more to do with clan rivalries. Despite this, he welcomed the revolution, writing "What woman gave a birth to such a person like Lenin?" in celebration. Even after the fall of the Soviet Union Toktogul's songs remain popular among Kyrgyz performers and many streets, parks, schools, and even his home town are named after him.

His gilded likeness greets you when you walk through the entrance of the Kyrgyz national music center, the Philharmonia, in Bishkek. His status as Kyrgyz cultural hero may be measured by the fact that both the village and the district into which he was born are now named for him. Despite the vast difference between life in the present-day Kyrgyz Republic and that in Czarist-era Russian Turkestan, many young Kyrgyz today can tell you something of Toktogul's life story, thanks to pre-Independence bio-pics. To an almost unparalleled degree, Toktogul Satilganov was a composer who met the Soviet mark for an exemplary 'people's artist.' Toktogul's mother was a professional composer of laments (koshokchi). Reportedly a master komuz player (komuzchu) by the age of twelve, Toktogul was making a name for himself as a spontaneous topical composer-singer (akyn) just six years later. But his songs featured pointed criticisms of local beys and would earn him a dozen years of imprisonment and exile. While Soviet- era interpretation of Toktogul's czarist-era trouble-making songs depict him as a hero of class struggle, 'revisionist history' suggests it was more a reflection of Kyrgyz clan rivalries. The official viewpoint was voiced by Soviet musicologist Viktor M. Beliaev (Central Asian Music, Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, Conn.): "...the development in the pre-revolutionary period of a progressive democratic tendency in the area of the akyns' art reached a high revolutionary pathos in the works of Toktogul." The near-canonization of Toktogul in the Soviet era reflects a shrewd understanding by the Russians of the akyn's important role as shaper of public opinion in traditional Kyrgyz society. Toktogul's `revolutionary pathos' was a propaganda windfall for the Soviets. If recent history has mooted the political value of his songs, the continued ubiquity of Toktogul's compositions among Kyrgyz traditional musicians and singers suggests that the qualities praised by A.V. Zataevich, the Russian transcriber of Toktogul's compositions--"striking originality, subtle musicianship, breadth of phrasing and melodic freshness"--still inspire. Toktogul's advice to his disciples: "Serve eternal truth, akyn!"

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