Tofig Guliyev, was born on November 7th, 1917. His father, Alekper Guliyev, was economist and engineer. His mother, Yahshi Hanum received education from women's gymnasium named after Tagiyev. Later she went to school of Saint Nina. She was one of the first Azerbaijani Women serving as a Judge.
Tofig Guliyev started learning music when he was 12 years old. In 1929 he entered a music college, and was in the class of famous teacher S. Turich. He wrote his first composition in 1931. It was a song "About Schoolboy" the text was adopted from the classic Azerbaijan Kid's poem written by Mirza Allakbar Sabir.
In 1934 Tofig Guliyev entered two faculties at the same time: piano and conductor in Azerbaijan State Conservatoire. Here he studied polyphony, harmony, the musical form in the class of R.M. Rudolf. In the class of the famous Uzeyir Hajibeyov he, for the first time, was introduced to the beauty and brilliance of the folk music and the art of mugham.
In 1934-35 Tofig Guliyev was involved in collection of folk music, dances under leadership of Bul-Bul. In 1935 he recorded mugham "Rast" and "Cegah Zabul" from the play of famous tar player Mirza Mansur Mansurov.
His conductor's activity started in 1935, when he worked in Azerbaijan State Drama Theater.
In 1936 Uzeir Hajibeyov initiated to send a group of talented youth to learn in Moscow State Conservatoire, among them was Tofig Guliyev, where he continues education as a conductor. On his entering exam, Tofig impressed Heygauz with his piano playing, and was invited to study in Heygauz's class.
While studying in Moscow, he got involved with Jazz and later was playing piano in Alexander Zhfasman band. Within a short period of time Tofig was acknowledged as the best musician of the orchestra.
Staring form 1939 Tofig Guliyev wrote more than 30 compositions for drama performances in Azerbaijan State Drama Theater, Russian Drama Theater, Young Viewer Theater, Moscow Drama Theater and etc.
He organized the first State Pops Orchestra together with Niazi in 1939, and so became one of the founders of Azerbaijan Jazz. On September 7th, 1941 the Orchester administered by T. Guliyev performed the very first concert in Baki Philharmonic and put a start to the jazz movement in Azerbaijan.
But very soon he had to interrupt the development of his orchestra. From June 1941 most of the members of his Jazz orchestra had to go to the war and there they were able to organize 402 Transcaucasian infantry division orchestra and were raising fighting spirits of the soldieries in Rostov, Krasnodar, Mozdoks.
In 1941 he got involved in composing film music. His first film "Sabuhi" was very successful and very soon composing film music became his main activity as a composer and conductor. During his life he created music for 40 Azerbaijan films.
From 1944 Tofig Gulev had built artistic relations with Eddi Rozner, Tofig created numerous remixes for Rozner's orchestra. Furthermore he created musical fantasizes by using melodies from classic Indian film " Homeless", using themes from romance "Black Eyes" as well as children songs.
During the period of 1946-47 Tofiq worked very closely with Rashid Behbudov and wrote many of the songs that Rashid performed. Together they created the unforgettable assemble. Their sensational performances in many cities of former Soviet Union were the best introduction into national culture.
Because of the II World War Tofig Guliyev had to interrupt his education and in 1948 he continued his study in Moscow State Conservatory. That time he entered both composition in the class of Golubev and conducting faculty in the class of Ginzburg. After graduation with honors he was recommended to the post-graduate studies in the class of Gauk. After graduating from post graduate studies in 1954 he returned to Baku and continued his creative activity. This is when he started his teaching activity. He led opera and orchestra classes at Azerbaijan State Conservatoire.
From1958 till1959 he was the artistic administrator and in 1961 became a Director at the Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Society named after Muslim Magomaev.
During the Soviet period, in 1958 Guliyev was named "Honored Art Worker of Republic of Azerbaijan". And in 1959 awarded the "Order of the Red Labor Banner of the USSR" and the "Medal for Heroic Labor" during World War II.
In 1964 Tofig Guliyev was named People's Artist of Azerbaijan.
In 1966 he is taking part in the trip into Chehoslovaniya to celebrate there "Azerbaijan Art Days". During his visit to Chehoslavaniya he creates a "Song about Prague" and "Song about Bratislava", which were very soon published in the country and became very popular.
Interesting and productive can be called his trips as a member of artistic delegation to Bulgaria, Poland, Italy.
In September 1968 he is leading a delegation of Azerbaijan art people to Brussels to present Fine art of Azerbaijan Republic.
He served as the Secretary of the Composers' Union of Composers from 1969, and later was elected to serve as a First Secretary of the Union and held this position till 1979. During this time he delivers a very profound work on rising young composers generation. In 1974 at the World Cinema Festival the Tofig Guliyev honored a State Premium for composing music for film "Nasimi" script written by Seyidbeyli.
Later in 1990 he was elected as the Chairman of the Union and served at this position till the end of his life. Following Azerbaijan's independence, in 1998 he was awarded the Istiglal (Independence) Order, the highest honor bestowed upon citizens in the independent Republic. President Heydar Aliev personally awarded him this Order.
On October 4th 2000, Tofig Guliyev passed away.