Ensemble “Rustavi” Administration Press Release, December 5th, 2019


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Connecting with the 50th anniversary of the Ensemble “Rustavi”, there has been published a very important anthology – “400 Georgian Folk Songs”.


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“Glorious Ensemble”


A copy of the Melodiya collection was given to me with this inscription: “To a great friend of our ensemble.” This is a great gift – and I was greatly delighted by the inscription. I can’t say I’m such a close friend, but I love the ensemble, and I want to confirm this love now.

Today ensemble “Rustavi” is well known, and this fills all Georgian public figures with pride. Both the ensemble and its artistic director, Anzor Erkomaishvili, certainly do great work to immortalize Georgian folk songs and to share them with the world.

This activity is more than simply aesthetic in nature. The nation’s history is chronicled not only in written sources and archaeological findings, legends and archaeological observations about the nation’s mother tongue; the study of the nation’s literary and musical folklore has also been very important.

To date we have achieved some success in the study of poetic folklore; our scholars have done great work in this field. However, the same can’t be said about musical folklore. Despite some truly significant work, there is still much to be done in this sphere.

Our ancient folk songs can provide much information; many of our folk melodies come from deep, distant roots. Some of them, such as Lile or Maghla Mtas Modga, are hundreds of years old – perhaps even thousands. In one of my poems I wrote, “Our songs are pyramids. There are centuries behind their walls.” I borrowed this idea from a French commander who once told his soldiers in Egypt, “Look at these pyramids. There are centuries behind their walls!”. I think that this accurately reflects Georgian folk songs.

Both the polyphony and the diversity of our folk song can tell us a great deal. Each part of our country has its unique songs. I do not know of any other musical culture with such peculiarities. Each of Georgia’s provinces has completely different kinds of songs; Mravalzhamieri or Zamtari from Kakheti does not sound anything like Tsamokruli from Guria or Odoia from Samegrelo, and Tsintskaro from Kartli hardly resembles Adila, Lile, Alipasha, or Khasanbegura. There are many such examples.

We must be very grateful to Anzor Erkomaishvili – the talented song master of this glorious ensemble. My wish is that this group will always call me a “great friend.”


Tbilisi. 1980