What did Igor Liapin say about

M. I. Quandour's works

   
 
 

A Style Of Life

By Igor Liapin "Poet"

First Secretary of the Writers Union of The Russian Federation

Moscow, Russia

   On the wall of my office at home hangs a picture of Mohydeen Quandour. In this picture, he stands in front of the orchestra with his conductor’s baton raised high and he looks like a colossal bird about to take off in flight. Where would this bird fly to? It is a mystery, an enigma. This mystery or enigma itself is Mohydeen Quandour. Today you might meet him in Moscow, but in a weeks time he might be in England or in Hollywood, or in his beloved Jordan or he might possibly call from Nalchik… In all this wandering, what moves him around is not a tourist objective or a drive to see the world, but rather work! work! work!

   If you look at his outer aspect, he is a calm, relaxed person with quite confidence. But within him boils many projects and schemes requiring tireless activity. Some of the largest and most important banks in the world seek Quandour’s advise and council, like Mitsui in Japan and Dresdner in Germany etc. He is a real expert on horses and equestrian sports and one cannot imagine the most famous auctions taking place without the participation or council of Mohydeen Quandour. One Englishman told me once “his head is like an enigma computer” and I nodded to him and at the same time I thought, well that’s all true and good; banks, companies, business, you can do these things if you have a computer on your shoulders, but what about literature, cinematography, and what about music? Here computers are not the answer, this is something altogether a different sphere. Even the cleverest computer cannot create works of art on its own. And here emerges what I would unabashedly call the phenomenon Quandour. He can switch from being a financial expert and businessman to an author, a film director or a composer. In him you find two opposing energies which could not normally coexist in one person, the creative and the pragmatic. All these activities are not for him just a hobby. I can testify to that with absolute confidence, I, who is not a stranger to literature.

     Composer/Conductor Mohydeen Quandour gives himself fully and sincerely to music, exactly like he gives himself to literature. He lives and breathes music and likewise literature, in his artistic productivity, where he bends to the blank page of paper and submerges in the world of human passions, in the world of hopes and disappointments, in the highest rush of the soul and the unpredictable human actions and reactions. From the first pages of his novels and the very first notes of his music, the writer and composer Mohydeen Quandour captures our imagination and draws us to this life; at one time drowning us deep into historical events, and then pulling us back to reality and to this world we live in. And we see our own story with his eyes and hear songs of our lives with his ears. All this means that if he is with us we can focus our eyes on life more intently, and our ears, with him, become more in tune.

   When you hear Mohydeen’s music, you hear the sounds of his motherland, sounds of the Caucasus, sounds of his people’s history. You feel and hear the sounds of the wind sweeping against the monumental mount Elbrouze, even if you have never seen the great mountain yourself. The historical theme of the Adigha (Circassians) occupies most of the works and writings of Mohydeen Quandour. You can see it simply from the titles of his musical works: Circassian Rhapsody, Circassian Serenade No. 5, Circassian Serenade No.6. Terek Sonata, Miakop Rhapsody, Concerto Kavkas, Concerto Kabarda, Concerto Memoria and many others. The Concerto Memoria was written in memory of King Hussein Ibn Talal, but it is also part of the Circassian tragic history, the history of Immigration.

   If we talk about his novels, Kavkas, The Sabres of Chechnia, Kazbek, The Triple Conspiracy, The Balkan Story, Revolution, Diaspora… the same is true about his novels. They tell the story of his people, the Circassians.

   The musical work, “The resurrection of Sateney”, which he wrote based on the poem of the well-known Kabardinian poet Luba Balagova, was written with the deepest inspirations of the theme of his motherland. This music lifted me to cosmic highs over the Caucasus and landed me on the sun-drenched stones on the outskirts of a Kabardinian village with the sounds of the mountain winds and the rush of the rivers in my ears.

     You cannot find many people who can recount for you the history of their family going back for six generations. Grand father, great grand father, but that’s all. If you try to reach any further you go into thick fog. Mohydeen Quandour knows his roots very deeply. He can talk about his furthest ancestors in minute details that sometimes it seems almost unbelievable. I saw and lived with him in his family environment, at his home. I saw so many things in his house which were passed down from one generation to another and these materials tell the story of a proud and beautiful  people, the Circassians.

   The man of encyclopedic knowledge, Mohydeen Quandour is a wonderful interlocutor, an extraordinary conversationalist. He can talk to you with confident knowledge about horses and their different qualities, the prices of Arabian horses anywhere in the world, details of trade agreements, or classical and modern artistic works. He can talk to you about world theaters, the intricate details of film-making; at the same time the world prices of oil, or the different parliamentary and election systems of many countries, or about pharmaceutical and industrial production problems, or world finance or history, or archeology… He knows that the ‘Male Sal’ Concert hall of the Moscow Conservatory is the best Concert hall in the world and that they could not reproduce such acoustics in America or in Europe.

    As he talks to you he smokes one cigarette after another, he puts one out and then immediately lights another. Ashtrays everywhere, the magazine tables, by the fireplace, in the library, on the computer tables. He finds for himself extenuating circumstances in that he smokes ‘light cigarettes’. Of course he uses this as the excuse for those who care for him and love him and worry about him. In this circumstance I feel that I must take Mohydeen’s side. One day he finished his cigarettes and took one of mine, Russian Marlboro. He took one large puff and he coughed slightly. He shook his head. “It is made in Russia,” I answered.

   While he works with his musicians he concentrates completely without ever demonstrating any pretentious tendencies, he is completely natural. Sometimes he can agree with their interpretations but often he insists on his version of the music firmly. One day he was rehearsing the Moscow Strings Orchestra, teaching them new music. At one moment, while he conducted them, they must have been playing the music well and to his liking, he put both his hands in his pockets and straightened out his poise, his head lifted high. His whole being was immersed in the music. It was a phenomenal moment. Later I told myself that this posture, this beautiful moment spontaneously showed his genius.

   Another aspect of this friend of mine is his philanthropy, his generosity with his friends and with those whom he considers worthy. He assists any talented young person, if that person is willing to achieve fulfillment. He gives and gives, and gives of himself and of his funds, and God gives him back in return. Some years ago, during the chaos and confusion of the early Nineties in our country, when authors and artists were virtually abandoned by the State and left to themselves to struggle for survival, Mohydeen establishes the ‘Cherkess Fund’ in Kabardina Balkaria to help his compatriot Circassian authors, artists, musicians, to encourage them to continue in the creative fields. He establishes prizes and stipends and takes many artists abroad into the Circassian Diaspora to make them feel wanted and appreciated. He gives recognition to the best Circassian poets and authors from the three Kavkas Republics through his special ‘Kandour Prize’, established in memory of his father’s name.     

   His work in business, creative production and public service really tear Mohydeen Quandour apart. He is rarely in one place and of course the ones who feels this most are his closest people. The mature ones can hide it, but the children pour out their longing and suffering. Eight-year old Aleem and three year old Kazbek wrap themselves around their father. It seems as if they know that he will leave them again soon and therefore want to keep his warmth and his affection longer. Quandour understands it all, he suffers of it and he rubs their little heads with love, unable to hide his affection. When I saw the softness and love in his eyes and his caressing movements as he played with them, my heart contracted in sympathy because I knew that after one week he will order his new tickets to fly somewhere, and then will call from Moscow, London, or Tokyo and the children will only have his voice to be warmed by. That is his style of life.

   Mohydeen and I met accidentally. It happened that I took for translation to Russian, the poetic book of his wife – talented poet and wonderful person Luba Balagova. Soon after this book was published. It is called “ I say my prayers in Adigha…”. Do you feel the Rodina (motherland) theme again! Some years ago, the young journalist Luba Balagova of Moscow interviewed the famous businessman, great writer and talented composer Mohydeen Quandour. She put to him questions about politics, about life, about business, religion, love and of course about his motherland and the destiny of the Circassians, destiny of these legendary people… Maybe then, exactly at that time, that they felt their spiritual relationship and the two lonely souls met and shared a single destiny. ‘Sateney’ was not yet born in poetry or in music but already the intense music of love could be felt and its promise of beautiful creations not far off in the horizon.

   Luba Balagova has a wonderful poem about the music of Mohydeen Quandour and I am compelled to quote it here completely;

Your Music

 

The blossoming flowers

 wither away

The Sun invites the evening gloom

I cannot compare your music

With any Spring or Autumn

 

My song comes and goes

I am poetry and again Prose

If I am alas forgotton

My star cannot be spurned

The months of the year

Disappear

 

When birds fly to the sky

Like deep simmering mist

The heart’s wings beat riotous

Your destiny to fly

Betweeen Earth and sky

Your soul finding its timeless space

 

Without you

Such music could not find

Its mortality

New celestial chords

Reverberations of our ancestry

 

The blossoming flowers

Wither away

The Sun invites evening shadows

 Ancient souls resurrect once more

Creating the new euphony

 

The new sounds of rebirth

Making rebirth anew

Ushering in to our world

The perfect chords

In perfect harmony

  Quandour writes on his part a composition entitled “The Resurrection of Sateney” based on his wife’s poem entitled “Sateney”. This work binds the two creative people even more to their motherland, the glorious but tragic story of the Circassians.

   In their home in Amman stands a special Blue Pine tree. Such a tree does not exist in Jordan. Mohydeen brings this tree as a small sampling from Kabardina Balkaria. It is a miracle that such a tree could survive and thrive in the Jordanian climate, and one does not have to guess the special love and attention this tree required to persevere and to grow to its magnificent beauty. This is also a link with the ancient motherland. But how to survive without this link, without your historical roots?   In fact, the tree as well as the people can only survive and stand straight on this earth because of their strong roots, their strong foundations.

That is what makes Mohydeen a Mohydeen Quandour…Exactly his roots, which are full of life, full of energy and of spirit. He is a great son of his clan… he is a great son of his nation, the Circassians.