From Jeffrey Werbock, Chairman of Mugham Society of America

His Excellency Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan

Dear President Ilham Aliyev,
Congratulations on your birthday and I hope you have many, many more. We met briefly during your visit to New York City in the summer of 1997, when you came with your father who spoke at an event hosted by the Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, where your father delivered another great speech there. We shook hands as you both walked by our table to leave the meeting. I was invited to this event because I am a member of the Jewish diaspora in USA, married to an Azerbaijani. I met National Leader President Heydar Aliyev in his office in Baku on May 23, 1997, just a few months before you and I met in NYC. Your father invited me to his office to express his thoughts and feelings about the magnificent culture of Azerbaijan; he had learned that I was in Baku to perform at the Grand Opening of the newly renovated Opera House, and that I am one of the few non-Azerbaijanis who has devoted his life to the study and promotion of Azerbaijan's musical culture. I play kamancha and tar, beginning in 1973, and during this past 50 years have made thousands of presentations in the best venues in USA, Canada, UK, Europe, Israel, and of course, Azerbaijan.
I also wish to take this opportunity to congratulate you on the restoration of the sovereignty of your country. The day we heard that Shusha was liberated was one of the happiest days of my life. I visited that magical city in July of 2022 in pursuit of making another documentary film about Azerbaijan and its musical culture, and the people of Azerbaijan who are unique in the world and deserve to be much better known in the most positive way possible.
I hope someday we will meet so I can personally congratulate you on your accomplishments, and also First Lady and First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva, to personally thank her for all the great work she has done to promote and support the traditional art culture of Azerbaijan. Perhaps she may remember we met in Washington DC during her visit in 2006, at a small, private presentation of non-Azerbaijani people like me who adore some aspect of Azerbaijani culture.
Best regards to you both.


Jeffrey Werbock
Chairman of Mugham Society of America


Letters 2023-12-25 15:44:00