Behzad Abdi’s opera Rumi was physically released by Naxos, “the world’s leading classical label,” on 8/10/2018.
The composer’s note on the piece reads:
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 (Molawi) 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.
Rumi, which can be considered as the first national opera of Iran, is based on the life of the Sufi mystic and poet, Rumi, and the circumstances of his time, from when the Mongols invaded Persia, killing the Iranian poet Sheikh Attar, to his time in Konya and his life-changing meeting with Shams. However, the librettist and director, Behrouz Gharibpour, chose not to reflect the events directly, instead creating a symbolic libretto based on Rumi’s thoughts and words.
This redefinition and distancing from the historical narrative is considered to be the most significant point of the text in this opera, and was in fact the only way to grasp the latent meanings of Rumi’s words. The unifying message of the work—the promise of the ‘immortality of truth’—is repeated throughout the narrative. The audience is also exposed to various other stories along the way.
Those familiar with 13th-century Iranian literary texts know that due to the successive attacks of the Mongols and the reports of massacres, the Iranian people had turned to Sufism and nihilism. This is why there are sometimes contradictions in the realm of ideas from that era, which complicates understanding, for our generation, of the secrets that lie within the literature of that time.
The key to understanding Rumi’s poetry is its far-reaching look at human aspirations; the power that we call love and the temptations that take us away from false mundane charms and attractions (which Iranian mystics in many poems refer to as wisdom or common sense).
Rumi is based on Iranian dastgāh and is the first opera to use this traditional form. The work fuses Persian and Western classical music, which creates a unique timbre and harmonic colour. Iranian music may form the base of this work, but I was not unaware of modern Western music techniques, and unlike most Iranian symphonic music, it is not based on any specific ‘ism’ or school of thought, and in all parts of the opera, Western composition techniques are employed.
In Rumi, the use of the polytonal technique is not limited to the classical elements, and it is often heard in various dastgāh simultaneously—a technique that helps to reflect the unique concepts of the poetry, and one that was also used in the opera Ashura.
The text of this opera, which is set in 15 acts, is mainly based on Rumi’s writings with several parts taken from other poets. Rumi’s poetry is not distorted and the poems are read in their original form.
For the listener, especially those familiar with Rumi’s writing, what Gharibpour has done is astonishing and admirable. Due to his long-time involvement with these concepts and careful selection of Rumi’s texts, he has created one of the best and most important libretti among Iranian operas. Gharibpour not only considered Rumi’s literary and conceptual techniques but created an artistic mix of drama, history and literature. He was able to look at Rumi’s life and his eternal teachings from several aspects.
- Gholam Reza Khan Minbashian: a pioneer in Iranian music (I)
- Polyphony in Iranian Music (VI)
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- Avaye Naerika Percussion Orchestra
- Polyphony in Iranian Music (IV)
- Polyphony in Iranian Music (III)
- Polyphony in Iranian Music (II)
- Polyphony in Iranian Music (I)
- Behzad Abdi’s opera Rumi was physically released by Naxos
From Past Days…
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.
In the world music culture, there are instruments which were traditionally associated with a certain gender. It remains disputable to what extent these gender-based perceptions have been logical and scientific. For example, as playing wind instruments need more breath strength and the public opinion believe that men have stronger breath compared to women, these instruments are predominantly a male domain. Harp is also considered a female instrument as the public opinion believe that women have finer fingers and can therefore better perform nuances and delicate techniques on the instrument.
188.8.131.52.sometimes, a player, due to different reasons, may decisively want to play continuously two notes with a half-step by means of the same finger, in such a case, it’s necessary to open the interior curve of the finger like a spring. Naturally coming back, the curve of finger should be closed and the finger should become curved shape again (see paragraph 184.108.40.206).
A part of the secrets of the masterpieces from the golden era lies in the special design of the instruments, as a result of a profound insight to and awareness of the significance of the precise calculation of the various components of the object of arts being created, such as making a violin or a bow.
Simorgh (Simorq) Orchestra was founded by the renowned Iranian composer, Hamid Motebassem, in 2011. Simorgh Orchestra is the largest orchestra featuring Iranian national instruments. Although the orchestra established by Master Hossein Dehlavi, the great Iranian composer, in 1993 was larger than Simorgh Orchestra, it only featured the Iranian plucked string instruments unlike the latter one. The first album which was recorded by the Orchestra, conducted under Motebassem’s baton, was his Simorq based on Zal story from Shahnameh by Ferdowsi, the great Iranian poet.
Preparations for Saba Student Music Festival started in the summer of 2016; the Student Music Festival will be held annually by the students of music at Arts University. The first part of the closing ceremony of the Festival was dedicated to the celebration of the life, work and strives by Maestro Hossein Dehlavi to upgrade the level of music as an academic discipline. The name of the award-winning students and ensembles were announced at the second part of the ceremony.
With Dehlavi it is not all about fame but recognition. Hossein Dehlavi is not a popular musician (like pop singers) whom everybody might know when he is walking on streets of Tehran; however, he is recognized by both amateur and distinguished musicians of the country.
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.
Translated by Mahboube Khalvati The article you are about to read was written by Rouhollah Khaleqi (1906-1965), composer, and conductor of Golha Orchestra (established in 1956). Khaleqi was one of the most prominent promoters of polyphony for the Iranian music and is one of the best representatives of the school of Ali Naghi Vaziri. In…
April 6 marks the anniversary of launching HarmonyTalk.com. Back in 2004, HarmonyTalk was rather a blog dedicated to music. Gradually, however, it found its way to becoming a more sophisticated journal with an intensive but not exclusive concentration on classical music.