Famous people of Shusha

The people of Shusha made it the pearl of the Caucasus, the cradle of our culture, the mugham-singing heart of Azerbaijan

Famous people of Shusha


Born as Abdulbagi Ali oghlu Zulalov (1841-1927) Bulbuljan was an Azerbaijani singer of folk music and mugam (an original improvisational genre of classical folk music in Azerbaijan). He was also famous for his performance of Azerbaijani mugams in other regional languages, such as Georgian, Lezgian, Kumyk, Persian, and Russian.

Abdulbagi Zulalov, later known as Bulbuljan, was born in 1841 in Shusha. In his younger years he traveled a lot throughout the Caucasus and Iran. During one of his visits in Iran Mozzafar al-Din Shah Qajar liked his performance so much that he awarded Zulalov the Shiri Khurshid order, the highest order of the Qajar Empire of that time.

In 1875 Zulalov moved to Tbilisi where he would live until 1905. He gave concerts together with his fellow-countryman, a great tar player Sadigjan. Due to his wonderful voice, attractive appearance and high artistic performance, he quickly became famous throughout the Caucasus. Having learned Georgian language and began to perform Azerbaijani mugams in Georgian would bring the Georgian listeners into rapture. This was the time when he began to be called Bulbuljan, which literally means “[our] dear nightingale” in the Azerbaijan language.

After returning to Shusha in 1905, he dedicated himself to raising his orphaned nephews. In the early 1920s he moved to Baku to teach at the newly opened post-secondary musical institutions, and remained there until his death.

Bulbuljan significantly influenced many prominent Azerbaijani mugam and folk singers. Masters of mugham such as Jabbar Garyaghdioglu, Musa Shushinski, Mashadi Mammad Farzaliyev, Shakili Alasgar, Seyid Shushinski and many others considered him their artistic master. Today the Zulalov family is known in Azerbaijan as a family of musical talents. Bulbuljan’s daughter, granddaughter and nephews continued his traditions of mugam arts.