Gavriel Mullokandov

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Gavriel Mullokandov (April 8, 1900 - February 6, 1972) is widely regarded as the greatest Bukharian Jewish singer and musician. He was the People's Artist of Uzbekistan.

Born on April 8, 1900, in Samarkand, to a family of music lovers. He got much of his musical training and experience from his older brothers and from the age of nine began to sing in synagogue. At the age of 11 Gavriel was already singing on weddings and concerts and the public loved him. From his childhood, he learned everything about Shashmakom (a style of music in Central Asia) and could play all local instruments.

During the 1920s Gavriel worked with his brother Mihoel, who was also one of the greatest singers and musicians in Central Asia. In 1925-26 they were joined by Levi Babahanov, who once was a court musician of Emir of Bukhara.

In 1929 Gavriel Mullokandov won a contest in Samarkand for the best Shashmakom singer and was recognized as a new music star.

In 1930-32 Gavriel and Mihoel Mullokandovs together with other Bukharian activists organized a Bukharian Jewish theater in Samarkand. In it, they were joined by such outstanding Bukharian Jews as Aron Saidov, Murduhai Bachaev and Bahor Kandhorov. The Jewish theater became very famous in Central Asia, Moscow, Leningrad and Baku.

In 1936 Gavriel Mullokandov was awarded the title of People's Artist of Uzbekistan. In the following years he was awarded with many other government awards.

In 1940 Mullokandov was elected to the City Council of Samarkand.

During the Second World War, Gavriel Mullokandov was among the artists of Bukharian Jewish Theater, who traveled around the USSR performing in support of the war effort.

Mullokandov did a lot to promote Bukharian Jewish culture. Songs that he sang, music that he played were forever saved in the archives of Uzbek and Tajik radio and television.

Even though he lived in the atheist state, Mullokandov never forgot his roots and religion. He celebrated Jewish holidays and his home was always full of people, who came to listen to his songs.

Gavriel Mullokandov also promoted peaceful and friendly relations between Uzbek and Tajik people and Bukharian Jews. He was very respected by non-Jewish population. One of his best friends was the great Uzbek writer Gafur Gulyam, who during the war wrote a poem called "Men – Yahudiy" or "I'm a Jew".

Mullokandov died on February 6, 1972. In 1976, the Central Committee of Uzbekistan renamed Eastern Street in Samarkand, where he was born and lived most of his life, in his honor.