Abai: Book of Songs published in London

03 Dec 2020

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The first in history collection of Abai’s songs in English language was presented online in London. The book was published by Kazakh Embassy in the United Kingdom with the support of the National Bureau of Translations and was dedicated to the 175th birth anniversary of the great Kazakh poet, philosopher and educator. It is worth noting that in addition to literary works, Abai left rich and varied musical legacy, which became an integral part of the Kazakh cultural identity.

“Abai’s poetry is well known. His philosophical cultural works are well known, but his music legacy is not that widely known in the world. Therefore, we have dedicated special book to his music legacy. This book contains the most famous songs of Abai. The uniqueness of the book is that it has QR codes, through which our foreign friends will be able to see live, to listen live, how these Abai’s poems were performed by ancient and modern Kazakh performers,” said Yerlan Idrissov, Kazakh Ambassador to the UK.

An online concert with Abai’s songs took place during the event. The songs were translated into English by famous Scottish poet John Burnside. He managed to convey not only the meaning of the works, but also to bring them as close as possible to the original work. The professor was guided by the interlinear translation provided by Kazakh-speaking assistants.

“There was a special, added difficulty in a sense, an added challenge, which made it even more interesting. The idea was that the English versions of Abai’s songs would be rhythmically, precisely, would match precisely with Abai’s rhythms and as far as possible echo his rhymes, that is, obviously, the same rhymes couldn’t be created, but the rhymes would occur in the same place and have the same resonance and the same musical timbre,” shared Burnside.

The publication with a circulation of 1,500 copies includes three kuys and 23 songs, as well as music scores and lyrics of Abai’s songs. The book is also available on the Internet. It will be distributed to musical educational institutions and friends of Kazakhstan in the UK.