Speech by Totu Sydykova

Date: 05 October 2011

Dear Honoured Guests and Dear Fellow Countrymen,

Today is a very special day for me and my family! My heart is filled with happinness and sadness at the same time. I am very happy that the great work of my late husband, is finally being recognized today by so many people here that have gathered to pay tribute to him and celebrate his life-long achievement. I feel sad that he cannot be with us today. He would have been delighted to see both his books and the CDs, published in such high quality. He would have been sitting here, signing his books today. But perhaps, his spirit is present amongst us.

Asan Kaybidlaev was a true patriot of his country and deeply cared about the Kyrgyz language and traditional music. He did not have any formal training as a music scholar. Rather, he was trained as a Kyrgyz philologist and was a great enthusiast and fan of komuz music from his childhood. He had a natural talent and genuine interest for researching komuz music and dedicated the last 20 years of his life to the study and popularization of komuz music.

In the 1980s, he worked in education and culture by serving as high school principal in Toguz-Toro and Ak-Suu rayons. He published many teaching manuals and co-authored a Kyrgyz language textbook for 8th and 9th grade students. He established the “Boz salkïn” music and dance ensemble at the Ak-Suu rayon Cultural Centre. He travelled to all the regions of Kyrgyzstan and gathered rich ethnographic and oral materials on Kyrgyz music and culture.

In 1987, Asan developed heart disease and retired. However, that did not stop his writing. He continued to write about the history, and current challenges and issues of komuz music in various journals and newspapers.

In the 1990s, he was invited to work at the “Golden Fund” (Altyn kazïna/Zolotoi Fond) of the Kyrgyz National Television and Radio Company. There, he salvaged Kyrgyz music by manually restoring hundreds of old melodies played on the komuz recorded during the Soviet period. He used to come home feeling angry and upset that these precious recordings played by master komuz players were in terrible shape. The old sound archive of Kyrgyz music was stored in the dark, wet, and dusty basement of the building. The recordings of komuz music were decaying and many of them ignored. He gave those dying melodies a second life by restoring them. Between 1992 and 1999, he broadcasted 130 narrative histories of Kyrgyz melodies on the weekly 30-minute National Radio programme called “Küü Bayanï” (History of Küü, [melodies]).

In 1999, he was hospitalized with a very low heart rate of 28 beats per minute and his life was saved with a pacemaker implanted by Professor Kaldarbek Abdramanov, Doctor of Medical Sciences and Director of the Research Institute of Cardio-Surgery and Organ Transplant in Bishkek. Between 1999 and 2010, he was able to finish this two-volume work by holding the pen in his right hand and holding his heart with the left. Everyday, he prayed to God to give more time, health, and energy to finish his manuscript.

For this reason, he dedicated this work to Professor Abdramanov and I would also like to express my deepest gratitude to him for extending Asan’s life by ten years. We wish you long life, happiness and peace to your family, and great success in your work.

In search of funding for the publication of his three-volume manuscript on komuz melodies, Asan attempted to meet with former Presidents Askar Akaev and Kurmanbek Bakiev hoping to get support to publish his work as it promotes Kyrgyz cultural heritage. Unfortunately, his attempts failed and his eldest daughter Damira Sartbaeva sponsored the publication of the short edition of his book “Küü Bayanï” (“Stories of Küüs”) in 2001.

He continued working on the complete versions of his two-volumes. In the winter of 2008, we met Dr Elmira Kochumkulova from the University of Central Asia (UCA) who came to our house after hearing about Asan and his valuable manuscript from an American anthropologist who researched Kyrgyz oral traditions. Elmira was very impressed with the manuscript and his collections of komuz music recordings and said she would try to find funds to publish it. Not long after, she came back with the great news that UCA, where she works, will publish it and asked him to finalize the manuscript soon.

On behalf of my late husband, Asan Kaybilda uulu and his family, I express my deepest gratitude to the University of Central Asia and its leadership – Dr Bohdan Krawchenko, Director General of UCA and Dr Nasreen Dhanani, Deputy Director, and most importantly, to His Highness the Aga Khan, for recognizing the valuable contribution and life long works of Central Asian senior scholars and providing generous support for their publications.

We are very grateful to Dr Elmira Köchümkulova, the project coordinator and scholarly editor of his book. After my husband submitted the manuscript to UCA, he became very ill and Elmira had to finalize the book herself by adding the Index and Bibliography, thus making the book even more valuable for scholars. Dear Elmira, when your Asan aba was alive, he gave his blessings to you many times. May God give you strong health and a long life! May there be many young, patriotic scholars like you who truly care for their culture and show their patriotism by performing real work for their country.

We also very much appreciate the contribution of Mr Ernis Tursunov, Distinguished Poet of Kyrgyzstan, for editing the book manuscript and providing valuable suggestions and thoughts on improving the book’s form and content. He worked day and night despite his health. Dear Ernis aba, may you live a long and prosperous life with your beloved wife Jamila ele! Enjoy the rest of your old age with your children and grandchildren.

In addition, I would like to thank all the young women who digitized his handwritten manuscript and worked on the book’s design – Altyn Kapalova, Baktygul Kapalova, Elmira Duysheeva, Aida Tostokova and the book’s copyeditor, Nurlan Baychekirov.

Dear guests, thank you all, for coming to this important event. Knowing that his book is published and will be used by present and future generations, I know that Asan Kaybilda will finally rest in peace.

Thank you.

Totu Sydykova
Author, Asan Kaybïlda uulu’s wife

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