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.
Farshad Sanjari was born in Tehran in 1947. The son of Heshmat Sanjari (1918-1995), the Conductor of Iranian Symphony Orchestra at that time, Farshad started learning music under his father’s supervision. He was still very young when his family moved to Vienna where he studied piano at Vienna Music Academy. A few years later, Farshad and his family moved to Tehran and he continued his studies at Tehran Higher Conservatory of Music. He graduated from the Conservatory by performing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto under his father’s baton. In 1965, Farshad returned to Vienna and studied orchestra and opera conducting under the supervision of Hans Swarowsky (1899-1975), a professor of conducting at the Vienna Music Academy.
Farshad Sanjari started his conducting activities in Tehran just before completing his studies in Vienna by conducting “Mazandarani, a rhapsody for orchestra” by Hormoz Farhat (b. 1930) in one of his first concerts with Tehran Symphony Orchestra in 1970.
“In the first rehearsal with the orchestra, Farshad – despite being young – seemed to be a great conductor” said Farhat who moved to Ireland after Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979. “When it came to performing the dynamic nuances of the piece, he was careful; however, at the same time he had his own interpretation. It was clear that he was serious about making progress in the conducting profession. Unfortunately, there is no record of that performance “, he added.
The only recorded work which is conducted by Farshad Sanjari seems to be “Boumivar (in 3 movements) for orchestra” by Samin Baghtcheban (1925-2008) Baghtcheban was another Iranian musician who left Iran after the Islamic Revolution and died in exile. He composed “Boumivar” in the form of a suite inspired by Iranian folklore songs. He made a great effort to have this work performed until it was finally performed by Tehran Symphony Orchestra conducted by Farshad Sanjari in 1972.
Farshad Sanjari conducted concerts in Czechoslovakia, Poland, and especially in Austria between the years 1972 and 1979. In the meanwhile, he frequently visited Iran for performances as a guest conductor.
Only a few weeks before the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Farshad Sanjari staged in his last concerts as a conductor in Poland. He stayed in Vienna permanently since then and never returned to Iran. His name was no longer seen in a program as the conductor of an orchestra. Ever since, he worked as an opera and ballet pianist Vienna for several years.

This article is a translation of excerpts from Pejman Akbarzadeh’s article entitled “Farshad Sanjari and Death in Fire: the Death of the Iranian Musician in Vienna” published on the BBC Persian website on 1 December 2019.

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