Interview with Rauf Kasimov – A Real Maestro in Cyprus 

By Peri Sualp…..

I am sure most of you who are interested in music might have heard the name Rauf Kasimov. He is a great piano talent from Azerbaijan who has chosen to live in Cyprus.

He is a concert pianist, a composer and an amazing teacher. He is not only a super talented amazing person but he is also such fun to be with. I am one of the lucky people who has had the chance to work with him. I know I am not one of his super talented pupils who study hard but I feel blessed as he bears with me.  This week I wanted to share an interview with him on my page so you may find a chance to know our very own Maestro closely like me. But first you might want to have look at Rauf Kasimov’s  biography which is full of amazing achievements. 

“Rauf Kasimov was born in Baku, Azerbaijan on the 28th October 1954. He began his musical education at a private school in Baku in 1962. In 1978 he was awarded a Master’s Degree with Distinction from the Baku State Conservatoire as concert pianist and he received his PHD from the same conservatoire in 1980. Between years 1983-1986  he assisted the head of the piano department at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatoire, Professor Dorensky, a world famous pianist and educator. He was awarded First Prize in the O’Shea International competition in Tiflis, Georgia in 1977 and again in Paloma, Spain in 1984 in the same competition.  In 1980 he was awarded the Honour Prize at the M. Canal International Piano Competition in Barcelona.

Rauf Kasimov was appointed as a piano instructor at the Baku State Conservatoire between the years of 1980-1991.

He has had concerts in a number of different countries and, of course, in North Cyprus and Turkey. In April 2009 he composed the anthem of the Turkish Marine Environment Protection Association, and in September of the same year together with his student Görsev Tepe, he was awarded First Prize in the competition for student-teacher four hands at the 17th International Piano Competition in the city of Dobrich, Bulgaria.

Rauf Kasimov was an adjudicator at the Pera International Piano Competition in Istanbul in May 2013” 

My interview with Rauf Kasimov: 

Peri- Hello Maestro, I would like to start with the a basic question. Is Rauf Kasimov your real name? 

Rauf K- Yes, I don’t like to use any nicknames in my passports and papers 😉 

Peri- What is your birth date and place?

Rauf K– 28 October 1954, in Baku. I was born in the past century 😉

Peri– When did you exactly start playing piano?

Rauf Kasimov and Peri Sualp

Rauf K.- I can tell you the exact date; 1959, I was 4 years old. I started to play my piano in my house, I didn’t know anything but I started realizing the keys and notes and neither my mother nor my father knew how to play and I learned all by myself. It was fun! 

Peri– Where did you take your music education?

Rauf K.- I took my music education in Baku in Azerbaijan. It was a special music school which I spent 11 years in.

Peri- We know that you are a great pianist. What do you do now?

Rauf K- I am a retired private piano teacher.

Peri- How do you describe yourself as a teacher?

Rauf K.-umm. it’s a little tough question. I can’t describe myself, somebody else can but I am trying to be honest and sweet at least.

Peri- What are your expectations from your students?

Rauf K.- 1. Hard work! 2. Hard work! 3. Talent! Because with hard work and lots of hard work that combined with true talent makes success. And believing! 

Peri- Do you play any other instruments other than the piano?

Rauf Kasimov and Peri Sualp

Rauf K.- Of course not because it took all my life to learn and to be a professional! I need to have a second life to spare for an instrument to be a true professional. 

Peri- Can you explain your love of music?

Rauf K.- A lot! It’s enormous, I tell myself I hate music then I love it again but if you take music away from me, I die! 

Peri- Who’s your biggest support in life? 

Rauf K.- My loving wife Ayla, she has supported me all the way. She supports me with all my work and life.

Peri- What brought you here to Cyprus? And when? 

Rauf K. There was some festival I was invited to play piano in and it was in Bellapais. It was very successful. Then I decided to stay in this beautiful island. 

Peri– Do you have any superstitious beliefs? 

Rauf K.-  No, I do not. I believe in music.

Peri- What are your strengths or in other words powerful sides?

Rauf K.-  I am a really stubborn person. I get something in my head and I always have to be patient and complete my work.

Peri Sualp singing with Rauf Kasimov

Peri- What are your weaknesses? 

Rauf K.- I have so many, but I was not patient at all but I pushed myself to be patient and now I am a very calm and a patient person.

Peri- What are your fears?

Rauf K.- This is nature. I have no fears. You are born, you live till you die.

Peri- If you weren’t a great pianist what would you be?

Rauf K.- I would probably be a lawyer. I am very good in convincing people.

Peri- Where do you see yourself in a few years? 

Rauf K.- In Cyprus, doing the same thing, music! 

Peri- How would your family and friends describe you?

Rauf K.- My son describes me as a troll and joker because I always make jokes. By the way I have a son who lives in Aberdeen. But you have to ask my friends, I don’t know how they  would describe me.

Peri Sualp and Rauf Kasimov

Peri- How do you deal with pressure and stressful situations? 

Rauf K.- Umm, stressful situations? I squeeze my jaws and wait 😉

Peri- What do you like to do apart from music?

Rauf K.- I do digital drawing. I love how they look.

Peri-  If you were an animal, which one would it be?

Rauf K.- A turtle! Because they live for a long time and they also sleep in winter time.

Peri- Can you describe yourself in one word?

Rauf K.- Impossible! Our life is pushing us to do impossible things to become possible and that is why life is challenging.

Peri- Is there anything else you would like to add? Perhaps a message for my readers out there? 

Rauf K.-  Yes, I can add only one simple thing. Now in our life today it is 2019 and we need more soulful things because we always live in pain and blood and war. Music and art are our future happiness that is what I believe.

Peri- Thank you for your time and patience Maestro. 

Rauf K.-  You’re very welcome.