Kazakh waltz

Waltz genre was appeared in Kazakhstan in 1930s. Soviet musician Latif Khamidi wrote the music: tempo ¾, rhythm dimension is light and intense. The dance reflects the elegance and pureness of the young Kazakh girls.


Latif Khamidi was born in Tatarstan. His father was a menial worker and his family frequently moved from one place to another searching for a better life. They used to live in Caucuses, Donbass, Uzbekistan. Latif loved a music from childhood. He entered the Music College in Moscow despite the fact that his father was against it. He met Aleksandr Zatayevich, Mukhtar Auezov, Akhmet Zhubanov there. With the help of Kazakh intelligence representatives he got acquaintance with Kazakh music.

It was Zhubanov who invited him to work in Almaty. And Khamiti settled in Kazakh capital in 1930. He directed the Kazakh orchestra and rewrote Kazakh songs for full score.Latif KhamidiOne day Zhubanov came to his cabinet and said they had a state order to write a music piece. The Central Committee made an order for a piece to perform it while celebrating 20th anniversary of Kazakh Soviet Republic. Kazakh writer Sabit Mukanov wrote a story about Kazakh youth at the age of 20. And Khamidi was appointed as a Composer.

Khamidi was puzzled. He had a lack of time and a lot of work to do with orchestra. He handled his routine during the day and worked on a piece at night.

He thought to use the folk songs but no one matched the piece lines properly. Then he dropped that idea. It was late night. He was alone at his working place, tired. He took the yellow papers of the piece and looked through the lines again. His eyes caught two lines: “Mai tusa, gulder atsa sheshek jazda…” (When May is born, and flowers are blooming…). That was what he wanted: “how it would be great if the words of the song ended in vowels like the neopolitanian songs” he thought. Suddenly he felt a great excitement. He stund up and sit down. It seemed like someone murmured him “Waltz! Waltz!” He seized a piece of paper and grabbed a blue pencil. He drew 5 lines. He had the music sheets in his bag, but he was too hurry to remember about it. He was afraid the melody would slip from his head. Directing his hand from side to side and singing he divided 5 lines in 6 measures. He wrote notes and song words under the lines. He was happy as a child. He imagined a scene, a piano and as he was playing on it. 2 verses are ready. “Chorus! I need a chorus. I have to call to Sabit and ask him to make a chorus”. He glanced at his watch. It was 10 pm. Almaty night. No one in the streets. He pulled down the shade, took his papers and went out.

He met his wife near home. She leaned back against the tree. “You came early again!” - it was her usual sarcasm. “The Waltz was born today!” he said. “Waltz?! Dance your waltz by yourself! You have no wife, no child, no home! Orchestra is yours! Capella is yours! Radio is yours! Waltz is yours! Everything is yours! And nothing is mine! You have a life! And I have nothing! Go and enjoy your life!

Latif entered his home upset. He was laying on the sofa awake for a long time. At least he slept. He woke up suddenly. Something frightened him. He walked around his home. His wife had gone with his child. She always used to do it. He felt sorrow for a while, then threw prudence to the winds.

He had a wash and got shaved quickly. Then sit at the piano, and played the melody, and sang . Then took a phone and called to Mukhanov.

“Sabe, I have started to write a music for your piece. You have a 2 versed song, but I need a chorus. Can you make it?” Sabit Mukhanov was a professional. He just asked: “How many syllables should it have?”. A little bit later Mukhanov called him back and dictated the text.

After a lunch the same day the music piece’s executive director, producer, and Kazakh singer Kulash Baiseitova were standing around the piano at Khamidi’s house.

Khamidi performed his creation. Everyone was keeping silence after he completed. It was agonising wait. Then, at least, Kulash took the notes and replied: “May I try?” And they rendered a song again.

Kazakh waltz had a great success. It was very popular in Kazakhstan. It was danced everywhere: in theatres and restaurants. Even at the Station Platform when soldiers took their departure and went to the WWII.

At the stage the dance was performed for the first time by choreographer Shara Zhienkulova. Kazakh artist Gulfayrus Ismailova drew the famous portrait of Shara and named her picture Kazakh waltze. It is available to review at Almaty’s museum named after Abilkhan Kasteev.