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.
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From Past Days…
Shiraz Arts Festival which was held in Shiraz from 1967 to 1977 featured many contemporary renowned artists who were commissioned by the Iranian royalty to compose or create works of art for performance in the arts festival. Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001) participated in Shiraz Arts Festival three times in 1968, 1969 and 1971. The Greek-French composer,…
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.
Microtona is a sixty-eight-page Booklet with personal comments by the contributing microtonal artists. The booklet also includes a DVD which consists of 8 original video tracks and 9 original audio tracks. The project is an international one featuring unpublished pieces by composers from Iran, Japan, U.S., France, Austria, Germany and Belgium.
As such, the young Meshkatian reached the position of a great maestro in the Iranian music. Up until 1997, Meshkatian remained prolific and composed many pieces which were characterized by progressiveness while drawing on the music of the past Iranian musicians. In some of Meshkatian’s works, one can trace the influence of maestros such as Faramarz Payvar; however, this influence is so balanced that one can neither say that Meshkatian is a progressive and deconstructionist composer nor does he use cliché forms in his compositions.
The name of Maestro Hassan Kassai is so vehemently intertwined with Ney (Persian reed flute) that one cannot imagine one without the other immediately coming into mind. Ney is one of the instruments which went through a lot of ups and downs in the history of the Iranian music since the time of Sassanid kings to the time when shepherds found playing it consoling when they took their cattle for grazing. However, Nay could never demonstrate its main capacities to gain a stable position among the musicians and the people like other instruments including Oud, Tar, Santour, all sorts of bowed string instruments and plucked string instruments.
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.
Payam Taghadossi (born in 1989) started his musical education at the age of 4 years with Monika Scherbaum in Bregenz (Austria). At the Conservatory Feldkirch he joined the class of Imke Frank and Martin Merker. Later he studied in Zurich (Switzerland) with Thomas Grossenbacher and Christian Proske, where he 2011 graduated as a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance. Two years later as the student of Rafael Rosenfeld he received his Master of Arts in Music Performance diploma and later graduated as a Master of Arts in spezialized Music Performance in 2016 from the Hochschule für Musik Basel FHNW.
One of the most popular terms used by Iranian instrumentalists is the existence or a lack of musical “sense”. Both musicians and fans of music consider having “sense” while playing music as an important principle to the extent that they use it vis-a-vis having technique.
Mohsen Renani in the preface of his book entitled “The Political Economy of nuclear conflict; an introduction to traversing the civilizations” writes:
With regard to each polyphonic form, only one specific and distinguished example is analyzed. These polyphonic forms are as follows: