In the course of its long history, Azerbaijan has given the world a number of outstanding thinkers, poets, and scientists. Among the medieval scientists and philosophers, Abul Hasan Bakhmanyar (11th century), the author of numerous works on mathematics and philosophy, and Abul Hasan Shirvani (11th-12th centuries), the author of Astronomy, may be noted. The poet and philosopher Nezamy, called Ganjavy after his place of birth, Ganja, was the author of Khamseh ("The Quintuplet"), composed of five romantic poems, including "The Treasure of Mysteries," "Khosrow and Shyryn," and "Leyli and Mejnun."
The people of Azerbaijan have retained their ancient musical tradition. For example, the art of ashugs, who improvise songs to their own accompaniment on a stringed instrument called a kobuz, remains extremely popular. Mugams, vocal and instrumental compositions, are also widely known, the town of Shusha being particularly renowned for this art.
Azerbaijan's cultural institutions, including museums, theatres, and public libraries, are located in Baku. Many of them were established after World War II. The city has museums devoted to the art, history, and literature of Azerbaijan. In Nagorno-Karabakh there is a museum with material on the history and archaeology of the Armenian people of the region.
The opera and ballet are widely attended. Some of Azerbaijan's composers, notably Uzeir Hajjibekov (the operas Ker-Ogly and Leyli and Mejnun and the operetta Arshin Mal'Alan) and Kara Karayev (the ballets Seven Beauties and The Path of Thunder), have international reputations. The latter's symphonic music is also well known abroad.
Throughout the Soviet period Azerbaijani literature was controlled by a system that saw mortal danger in even a modicum of creative freedom. Azerbaijani writers and other intellectuals were closely supervised and subjected to varying degrees of persecution.
Azerbaijan has no private publishing; several government firms publish scientific books and magazines as well as books and magazines about art and literature in Azerbaijani, Russian, and other languages. In 1992 the Azerbaijani government switched from the Cyrillic to the Roman alphabet.
The magazinesLiteraturny Azerbaydzhan (in Russian), Azerbaijan Gadini ("Azerbaijan Woman," in Azerbaijani), and Azerbaydzhanskoye neftyanoye khozyaystvo ("Azerbaijan Petroleum Economy," in Russian) have the highest circulation.
Baku has several radio stations, a television studio, and a film studio.
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