Layla Ramezan, Iranian Pianist

Iranian pianist Layla Ramezan has always sought to create a connection between her Persian origin and the contemporary music which she encounters daily. Sound, phrasing, a particular sense of rhythm and a refined understanding of the “time of musical development” are the foremost qualities of her interpretations. Her musical and pianistic education began in Tehran at the age of 8 with Mostafa-Kamal Poortorab. Having moved to Paris and received a scholarship from Albert Roussel Foundation, she integrated the classes of Jean Micault and Devi Erlih at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris Alfred Cortot, where she received a Diplôme de Virtuosité in piano performance and chamber music.

She was later awarded a Diplôme d’Etudes Musicales with distinction, at the Conservatoire National de Saint-Maur des Fossés et de Créteil in France with Jacqueline Bourgès Maunoury and Christophe Bukudjian. Layla went on to gain two Masters, in musical interpretation (concert diploma) and accompaniment, at the Haute Ecole de Musique of Lausanne, Switzerland.

In December 2014, she was invited to give two exceptional recitals in Iran, entitled “100 Years of Iranian Piano Music”. For this event, she has brought together almost twenty Iranian composers from all over the world, mixing styles and generations, and including many young creators from contemporary Iran. She is the President and pianist of Matka Contemporary Ensemble based in Geneva with which she organized several cultural projects between Iran and Switzerland: In 2013, she organized a four-month residency at the Maison Baron in Geneva for Karen Keyhani, following the Matka ensemble’s commission of a work by this young composer. A concert was organised, entitled “A Contemporary Reading of Persian Music” and bringing together Iranian and French composers.

In 2015 she set up a project comprising new works for small ensemble by Iranian, French, Swiss and American composers with collaboration of Center for Iranian music in Pittsburgh-Carnegie Mellon University. These were premiered in February 2015 at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, then in Geneva, Switzerland. She was invited in May 2016 to play as a soloist with the Tehran Symphonic Orchestra, in December 2016 with Tehran New Music Orchestra and in September 2016 as the member of jury of « 10th National Festival of Youth Music » in Tehran. Layla Ramezan performs regularly in live broadcast on RTS Espace 2.

She prepares the recordings of «100 years of Iranian music for piano» in a collection of four CDs with Label Paraty Production, Harmonia Mundi distribution. Iran is a nation whose musical tradition harks back to ancestral times. To this day, traditional music remains extremely important in the country’s culture, alongside different strains of regional folk music. Classical Western music was introduced in the 1900s, mainly through contact with France, and classical Iranian music, despite its recent origin, fascinates by its incredible variety and blending of multiple elements.

The first CD of this collection which will be available on February 2017, is entitled «Composers from the 1950s». The composers on this record, born between 1928 and 1958, perfectly illustrate this specific diversity. Most of them were educated in Europe, mainly in Austria and France, but some also studied in the United States. And, although their musical styles sometimes radically differ from each other, they are all purveyors of a musical tradition which never ceases to reinvent itself.

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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…

Principles of Playing Violin (V)

3/1/2/5: When the first finger lands next to the nut, continuation of first phalange of this finger, on back of the hand, should be in line with continuation of the back of the wrist and the left hand; moreover, it should not pass them and bend at knuckles. Otherwise, an uncommon stretch is created in first finger’s knuckle also reducing the freedom of other fingers (especially the fourth finger) in finger placement.

Polyphony in Iranian Music (II)

With regard to each polyphonic form, only one specific and distinguished example is analyzed. These polyphonic forms are as follows:

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.

A note on “Illusion or Ingenuity” article

The author of the “Illusion or Ingenuity” article, who is apprehensive of the future of the Music in Iran, enumerates some symptoms of the music weakening in the country for example decreasing in the quality of the music as well as lack of the innovation in creating them, a gradual decline in the music public taste and the drop in the application of layered sound and polyphony in music. He explains that one reason for this gradual weakening might be our unawareness of the fact that we are not so intelligent nation. He believes that we, Iranians, have a comprehensive “Illusion of the high national intelligence “that make us ignorant of the unfavorable realities of our music and consequently no searching for the remedy is taking place. His point of view brings to the mind a patient who thinks he is healthy, therefore delays the treatment and finally is killed by the disease. The author also refers to the national difficulties which gradually will lower the national intelligence score such as the increased rate of the immigration and brain drain, low quality of the nutrition, incompetence of the education system and etc and predicts that the condition of the music of Iran might deteriorate in the future because of the mentioned illusion of its great status.

Developments in Iranian Music Since Qajar Era (I)

At the end of the Qajar era and as Iran entered the power transition period, known as the constitutional era, the Iranian music went through a lot of changes. These changes gained momentum as the students and followers of Ali Naqi Vaziri’s entered the musical scene. These changes greatly influenced designs of instruments, playing methods, singing, composing, etc.

New Technique for Playing Classical Guitar (II)

When the author was working on the piece “Playing Love” by Ennio Morricone (from the legend of 1900), he realized a failure of the Lip Technique. Needing to play a chord in the 14th position of the guitar and in order to complete the harmony, it is necessary to play a harmonic note on the 7th or 5th position; it was not possible to touch the string to play this harmonic note, because the Lip Technique is used for getting the notes and not to touch the string and producing harmonic notes. Naturally, the only possible way to touch the string was to use the nose at the required position and playing the note with the right hand, and this was the best option the author found to how to play such harmonic notes, and where the Nose Technique was generated.

Three singers in one larynx

Sima Bina (b. 1945) is a unique singer among the singers of Golha radio programmes which were broadcast on Iranian National Radio for 23 years from 1956 to 1979. She received her first lessons in music from her father who was a poet, a musician and the most important supporter of Sima’s cultural activities.

Polyphony in Iranian Music (VI)

Torqeh or jal is the same bird (Bimaculated lark) and is the name of a muqam which is well-known in Torbate Jam and those areas. Jal muqam is called Torqeh in Esfarayen and Bojnourd. This muqam which was used to be played by Bakhshis/Bagşies (dutar-players) in the past is seldom performed today.

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.

Prominent Iranian Musicologist Passes Away in Vienna

Khosrow Djafarzadeh, musicologist and architect, who was also one of the main authors of HarmonyTalk journal passed away on 15 July 2019.