Asaf Zeynalabdin oglu Zeynally (Azerbaijani: Asəf Zeynallı), also spelled Zeynally (5 April 1909, Derbent - 27 October 1932, Baku), was an Azerbaijani composer. Asaf Zeynally was the third child of the gardener Zeynalabdin and his wife Asband. He grew up in a house located next to Derbent's famous historical Naryn-Kala sight. Asaf Zeynally's father died shortly after his birth, and his mother Asband, a weaver, became the family's breadwinner. She was also an amateur musician and singer, and played the accordion contributing to her younger son's growing passion for music.
In 1916, 7-year old Zeynally started attending the Derbent Realschule, a local primary school, where he became member of the school choir and was taught to play the clarinet often participating in public performances of an amateur brass band outside school. In 1920, the family moved to Baku, Azerbaijan, where Zeynally continued his education at a military school, at which in addition he learned to play the trumpet.
In 1923, Zeynally enrolled in the newly-established musical college (which would be later named after him) where he was taught by prominent composer Uzeyir Hajibeyli. While studying at the college, he composed his first work entitled “Mahni” ("The Song") and performed it on a trumpet. The performance was perceived at revolutionary by music experts as the young composer managed to adjust the ceremonial march-like tune of the instrument in order to play folk Azeri music.
Encouraged by Hajibeyli, Zeynally enrolled in the composer program at the Azerbaijan State Conservatoire upon graduating from the musical college in 1926. Along with writing music, Zeynally publishes articles on Azeri musical culture, in which he mainly develops Hajibeyli's method of merging traditional Azeri styles with Western European classical music.
In the early 1930s, he was among members of intelligentsia who opposed the goal of the Soviets to ban tar. Since 1928 Zeynally taught at the music school by the Conservatoire, where he teaches theories of music (Gara Garayev, Jovdat Hajiyev and Tofig Guliyev were among his students). 1929 becomes the peak of the composer's activity.
Among his works produced that year, there was the romance “Ölkam“("My Country"), children's suite, “Karabakh shikastasi” for a symphonic orchestra, and other folk songs adjusted for Western instruments. In 1931 graduated from the Conservatoire and was appointed head of the Department of Music of the Baku Turkish Labour Theatre. There, his main contribution was writing music for the controversial propaganda play “Sevil”. In 1932, the theatre successfully toured S.Petersburg.
Asaf Zeynally died in 1932, at the age of 23, of an illness, never getting to compose the monumental symphony dedicated to Baku that he had planned earlier.