Banan: the Artist of the Age

This article was previously published in Kish Negar Magazine.
Translated by Mahboube Khalvati

Gholam Hossein Banan was born in 1911 in Tehran. He was born in an affluent art-loving family who were Naser al-Din Shah Qajar (1848-1896)’s relative. The Qajar King was his mother’s uncle on her father’s side. He learnt his first lessons in music while his father sang Iranian avaz (improvised rhythmic-free singing), he then attended classes by the renowned Iranian composer, Morteza Neydavoud (1900-1990) along with his sisters; the composer is, therefore, considered as his first teacher. He then learnt Iranian avaz under the supervision of Mirza Taher Zia Resaee (Zia-o Zakerin) and Naser Seif in an oral manner.
At that time he did not have any knowledge regarding music theory and used to follow the avaz school of the old generation without any attention to his voice type.
Years later Rouhollah Khaleghi (1906-1965) recommended him to attend classes offered by Abol Hassan Saba; hence he became one of the singers of Vaziri School.

Upon first meeting, Saba noticed how talented Banan was. As a matter of fact, Banan’s familiarity with Khaleghi, Ali Naghi Vaziri and especially Saba marked a turning point in his artistic career. Banan enjoyed the consultancy these great musicians had to offer him and became a star in the heavens of the Iranian Avaz.

Specifically Vaziri who had taken classical singing classes in Europe helped Banan to sing within his vocal range rather than singing by pressurizing vocal cords as was the fashion then. Vaziri was then in the lime light for his new proposals and theorizing the Iranian music.

By introducing standards for performing Iranian music, Vaziri directed Iranian music toward a new order. He despised singing with a wrong style and the influence of his ideas on the majority of his fellow singers and musicians is evident. Vaziri paid more attention to his students and the performers of his proposals whose performances had to be perfect examples of his proposals; Banan who was one of Vaziri’s best students.

Gradually, Banan’s avaz which was broadcasted from radio gained popularity among people. Great musicians who worked for the radio and who were Saba’s students composed tasnifs (rhythmic accompanied by singing, an ode) for him. Great masters like Hassan Kasaee and Jalil Shahnaz played the background music for his avaz.
Banan’s two most important colleagues were Rouhollah Khaleghi, Morteza Mahjoubi and Rahi (as lyricist). Banan who was considered as a pioneer classical singer then, had the two favourite instruments of the time, i. e., violin and piano as two accompanying instruments for his avaz. Those years also marked the first experience for using western music instruments and more importantly collaboration with large orchestras. Banan’s avaz with piano or orchestra is best examples of this kind of music to the date.
Banan’s intelligence in singing “Man az Ruze Azal” composd by Morteza Mahjoubi and “Tousheye Omr” composed by Mehdi Meftah when the common avaz practice was disorganized and harsh is admirable. However, wasn’t it for his familiarity with great musicians such as Neydavoud, Saba, Vaziri and Khaleghi, he would have never reached such a high status.
There were several singers of his generation with a wider vocal range and stronger voice, Banan was always ahead of them due to his delicate avaz and his unique punctiliousness.
By the time Banan reached his middle ages, there were many singers working for radio who could compete with Banan in terms of delicacy and attentiveness in performing the music and words. Hossein Ghavami and Mohammad Reza Shajarian (who was Banan’s student) were amng them. Despite this fact, Banan still enjoyed popularity and his style was many’s favourite.
In 1336 Banan lost his right eyesight in a car accident which caused his depression. He continued working as motivated as before though.
Banan’s avaz, whether accompanied by orchestra or a single instrument, is so technical that today few singers can perform vibrations, runs, etc. which Banan can perform. Drawing on his talent, Banan, apart from developing his unique singing style, performed avaz with a single instrument differently from the avaz he performed with orchestra which had a western characteristic.

One of the excellent features of Banan’s avaz is that some of his avaz works, such as “Tabe Banafsheh Midahad,” “Deylaman,” “Amaad Amma” are popular like his tasnifs which proves his talent and deep knowledge in music.

Gholam Hossein Banan, the treasury of Iranian classical avaz, passed away in Iran Mehr Hospital in Tehran in 1982. Pari Banan, his wife, stopped all the clocks in their home as a sign of tribute to him.

Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *
*
*
Your email is never shared.

Farshad Sanjari, Forgotten Iranian Conductor Met His Tragic End

Farshad Sanjari, one of the most renowned Iranian conductors in the 1970s in Iran died after fire broke in his apartment in Vienna on November 22, 2019. Farshad Sanjari was not involved in politics; however, he was one of the victims of the Iranian Islamic Revolution in 1979. After the victory of the Islamic Revolution, his name was never seen as the conductor of any programmes.

Gholam Reza Khan Minbashian: a pioneer in Iranian music (II)

Gholamreza Khan Minbashian taught courses such as organology, orchestration of military music and harmony based on the books which were translated from French into Persian with the help of Aliakbar Mozayyan-o-Dolleh (1846-1932).

From Past Days…

Illusion or Ingenuity?

Mohsen Renani in the preface of his book entitled “The Political Economy of nuclear conflict; an introduction to traversing the civilizations” writes:

Banan: the Artist of the Age

Gholam Hossein Banan was born in 1911 in Tehran. He was born in an affluent art-loving family who were Naser al-Din Shah Qajar (1848-1896)’s relative. The Qajar King was his mother’s uncle on her father’s side. He learnt his first lessons in music while his father sang Iranian avaz (improvised rhythmic-free singing), he then attended classes by the renowned Iranian composer, Morteza Neydavoud (1900-1990) along with his sisters; the composer is, therefore, considered as his first teacher. He then learnt Iranian avaz under the supervision of Mirza Taher Zia Resaee (Zia-o Zakerin) and Naser Seif in an oral manner.

Principles of Violin Playing (IX)

4.3.1. To practice playing of doubles of notes involving two different fingers, each note is played at separate bows with slow tempo, each note is played perfectly regarding its bass and tenor sounds and then the considered double is played at another bow while considering the resulted sound of the double.

From the Last Instrumentalist to the First Composer (II)

Rouhollah Khaleghi was the master of composing beautiful melodies. He was the premier of the course of history which was first established by Ali Naghi Vaziri and which improved the Iranian music from simply a gathering music to the classical music of the country. First efforts to compose independent and instrumental music can be also traced in Khaleghi’s works.

The 4th Iranian Festival of Music Websites and Weblogs

The 4th Iranian Festival of Music Websites and Weblogs was held in Niavaran Cultural Center, in Tehran, Iran on Feb. 28th, 2015. The initiator of the festival was Sajjad Pourghanad, Iranian music writer, researcher, founder of the festival and Persian setar and tar player.

Principles of Violin Playing (II)

Since for playing violin, it’s necessary that the player’s palms and fingers be inclined toward the fingerboard, therefore, the player, while bringing up his hand, should turn it toward the fingerboard.

From the Last Instrumentalist to the First Composer (I)

Music as an art has its own special history; emergence of a singer, of an instrumentalist and then the emergence of the strong character of a composer covers three significant phases of the art of music. With the emergence of composer which was simultaneous with the emergence of the language of music, this art managed to offer a domain for criticism for its composer; a procedure which led to a magnificent variety and evolution in musical production. Even though the conflicts between singers and instrumentalists have not met their end in the Iranian society and while singers can achieve high, instrumentalists have yet to play behind curtains . In a special era, with the efforts of musicians such as Ali Naghi Vaziri (1887-1979) and Rouhollah Khaleghi (1906-1965), glimmers of a composing era started to glow bearing fruit in Khaleghi’s achievement as Iran’s first professional composer. Khaleghi made his reputation as a composer while Vaziri deserved to pioneer this path. By then Vaziri was well-known as a Tar player.

Behzad Abdi’s opera Rumi was physically released by Naxos

Composing a traditional Iranian opera using the Iranian modal system, dastgāh, has always been my dream. I first approached this by composing an opera called Ashura followed by the operas Rumi and Hafez. I believe that in order to attract an international audience for Iranian opera, it is essential to fuse dastgāh with Western classical forms.

Polyphony in Iranian Music (V)

In addition to the above-mentioned, polyphony can be also formed when a melody is performed by several singers in different ambiances or different sound registers according to their physiologic abilities. An example of this has been performed in rituals of Khanqah of Ghaderi darawish of Mahabad[i].

Principles of Violin Playing (III)

Violin players should always pay attention to the proper position of the left thumb and other points related to it and to its joining point to the palm.