Music from a land behind the mountains

Gamarjobat chemo kargebo (hello my dear ones),

This week I started my study at the conservatory again and before I get eaten up by student life I wanted to take this chance to talk about something nice on our blog. As some of you may know, I spent my holiday in Georgia, the country where I was born. As a child I grew up in the Netherlands, so you can basically say that I’m Dutch. However, a big part of me still remains Georgian. While growing up, I always wondered why I had such a strong connection with Georgia. Of course, a lot has to do with the fact that I was born there, but over these last couple of years, I noticed that I strongly feel connected to the country because of its music. It is known that music connects people with each other, but I think it also connects people to their inner feelings.

Do you know the feeling that whenever you hear music from your country, you understand it? Like you really really understand it in a way that someone else that’s not from that country, wouldn’t be able to feel the same about it? As much as I love other folk music, I could never get the same feeling out of it as I get from the music that is from the country where I was born. It’s not about whether or not that music sounds more beautiful, it’s about a sense of belonging. It’s almost as if the music defines you as a person. I think that if someone would ask me to describe my personality I would just send them a bunch of Georgian songs, that would be the perfect answer!

Just to clarify something: I’m very melancholic, I like to dwell on the past. Whenever something very beautiful happens I put that memory in one of my closets in my brain and keep it there (this is the closet where I put happy memories). Now and then I open the closet to see what’s inside, I ‘put the memory on’, look at it in the mirror and then put it back in the closet again. So.. having said that, let me take you to my closet full of memories.

Wheel of fortune

I know I started talking about folk music but there is also another kind of music that I love, which is film music. There’s a lot of nice Georgian film music and that’s why I would like to share a few songs with you! The first song is a song that I used to listen as a child and is called ‘Bedis borbali trialebs’ (The wheel of fortune is spinning). I didn’t know what the song was about until I grew older. Even if you don’t understand the words, you notice that there’s a bit of heartache in the song. I posted the video clip below and put a part of the translation of the text beneath the video. The song is sung by Vakhtang Kikabidze.

I am searching for a reason for I don’t understand what happened 
How have our paths split apart?
What have I left besides sorrow, all that I loved, all I believed –
The past took it all


As though all expectations and meetings were a dream,
No rebukes, nor voiced entreaties, the past took it all.
I have only thoughts left, relentlessly pursuing
And dreams of the past in silenced prayer
In which you appeared as but a distant memory


Some romance

The next song is from a movie called Mxiaruli Romani (Happy Roman). I can’t remember actively watching this movie but I definitely remember the song. I was reminded of the song because the movie was broadcasted on television a week ago. This song is a love song in which the man sings for the woman, saying ‘you are an icon and I am a candle’. Georgian literature and songs use a lot of metaphors and this is one of them. Like the candle burns in front of an icon, he burns like a candle for her out of love.

The romance doesn’t stop 

One of my favourite Georgian composers is Jansug Kakhidze (1935-2002). He made a lot of classical compositions as well as film music. The next song that I want to share with you is again from a movie, which is called Racha chemi siyvaruli (Racha my love). Racha is one of the most beautiful area’s in Georgia, one that I haven’t been able to visit yet, but one that’s high on my list of places to visit. Most Georgian songs are either about love, wine or food (or about all three of them, like the previous song). This particular one is about love, as you can notice from the title of the movie. In this particular scene, a man is standing underneath a balcony, singing a serenade with his friends to the woman he loves. I’ll post the song underneath, but if you’re interested in the specific scene, you can click here. This song is sung by Kakhidze himself.

The Georgian Romeo & Juliet

With the next pieces, I want to make a transition from film music to classical music. During my childhood, there was always one specific movie that I used to watch over and over again. That movie was Keto da Kote (Keto and Kote)! Back then I didn’t know that the original story and music were from an opera. The story is about two young people in love with each other: Keto, the daughter of a wealthy merchant, and Kote, who is the nephew of Prince Levan. Like in every comic opera, the couple must overcome obstacles to eventually end up together. The music in this comic opera is composed by Viktor Dolidze (1890-1933) who is a very well known Georgian composer. The first piece underneath begins with a violin solo (yeeees!) and gets interrupted by an orchestra, which leads to a dance scene in the movie during the last movement of the piece. The music from this opera also has a lot of eastern influences, which you can hear quite clearly in the second piece posted underneath (Bagdadian Dance).

As if I didn’t have enough melancholic stuff..

This is the last classical piece I will share with you! This piece has a very special meaning to me, as I have played it on my final bachelor exam. I think I discovered this piece a few yeas ago. First I listened to the second movement as it was the first one to appear on Youtube. I’m talking about the Violin Concerto by Aleksandre Machavariani (1913-1995), the second movement to be exact. I don’t want to spend too many words on this piece because it speaks for itself. Even though I have played this movement before, I feel like playing it again, because it goes right through the heart (well, at least.. my heart).

Hamlet – Back in the past

I’m not talking Shakespeare, no, I’m talking Hamlet Gonashvili (1928-1985), one of the most known singers in Georgia. If I could choose someone to bring back to life one day it would be him. Not only does he have an enchanting voice (listen to the subtle ornaments he makes), I feel like he was a very kind and sweet man as well. Check the video below to see if you agree! You can find the translation of the famous song ‘Tu ase turpa iyavi’ (If you were such a beauty) underneath the video. Even though this is not my most favourite Georgian song (please, Georgians, don’t kill me) I find it great to listen to, so thank you Hamlet!

If you were such a beauty
Why didn’t I notice you, oh violet,
And for love of you
Open my heart?

Now I’ve met a different gardener
Who covers me with kisses,
Sweetly intoxicated
He gently rocks me.

Sharing my last gems with you

Unfortunately, not all songs that I wanted to share are listed on Youtube, so that’s why I made a Spotify-list with some of my favourite folk songs, sung by Rustavi Ensemble, of which my dad is a member of. I can’t describe every song in the list, that would take too many words, but at least you’ll be able to enjoy the music. Bear in mind that Georgian polyphonic folk music is not a written tradition. Over the centuries the traditions and melodies have been taught from generation to generation by singing. Even though Georgian culture might have been influenced by foreign countries through invasion (Russians, Mongols, Persians, Arab, Ottomans), the country has been able to keep its own melodies, language and religion.

That was it guys, I hope you enjoyed reading and listening to these pieces. I at least feel happy and honoured to be able to share it with you. See you next time!


Author: Nino Natroshvili

Violinist and student at the Utrecht Conservatory, the Netherlands.

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