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.

HarmonyTalk Journal’s Twentieth Anniversary Celebration

On the 10th of Khordad, 1403 (equivalent to May 30, 2024), the twentieth anniversary celebration of the online journal “HarmonyTalk” took place at the Ersbārān Cultural Center. The event garnered such interest from enthusiasts that the venue was completely filled.

A combination of technique and musicality in the fingers of a pianist

In the world of classical music, the position of soloist has always been exceptional. Apart from the technical ability that many orchestral musicians also have, the soloist must also have a special power to be able to present a different and unique perspective of a piece. The soloist must maintain its special power of expression not only in solo roles but also when interacting with the orchestra.

From Past Days…

Jamshid Andalibi passed away!

Jamshid Andalibi, one of the most famous ney players in Iran, passed away on the fifteenth of Esfand, 1402, at the age of 66 due to a heart attack at his private residence. Andalibi was a member of a family that had a significant presence in the field of Iranian music in the sixties and…
Read More »

Interview with the Makers of the New Qeychak (II)

Regarding the classification of a new instrument in an instrument family, one can point to a number of fundamental issues, one of the most obvious of which is the instrument’s visual features. If we look at how the new instrument has changed compared to its historical versions, the set of visual elements that link the instrument to the Qeychak family becomes apparent. But other characteristics such as the geometric dimensions of the instrument, characteristics of the instrument’s various parts and how they relate to each other, its systematic performance, its sound range (compared to modern versions), the material and color of the sound, the way it is played and the like, can be considered in order to classify the instrument in the Qeychak family.

Iranian Fallacies – Composition and Arrangement

In the tradition of classical music, it is generally tried to use the same technical terms related to music in all countries. Even in the cultures in which native terms exist to refer to musical terms, usually the better known universal terms are employed.

The Role of Arts in Development of Societies

Mr. Mohsen Ghanebasiri, author and critic in the field of economy, culture and arts, as the next speaker, highlighted the role of arts, specially the music, in development of societies: “As far as the individual upbringing is concerned, a newborn baby is absolutely dependent. The relation between the baby and the parents is based on orders. There is lots of relativity in these orders; therefore, they are political orders. In the economy, however, the relations are mutual and based on common logic; hence, the formation of the concepts of democracy and individuality.

Kayvan Mirhadi and O.R.P Qaurtet

Establishing O.R.P. Quartet is Kayvan Mirhadi’s latest activity as a guitarist, composer and conductor of Kamerata Orchestra. Besides working with this Quartet, Mirhadi is busy these days recording and mixing some of his own works as well as some pieces by 20th century composers. O.R.P Quartet performed a concert in Rasht, Gilan Province in late May 2016 and offered a master class.

Interview with Farhad Poupel (I)

Born in Isfahan, Iran, and based in the UK, Farhad Poupel’s music has been performed and will be performed in numerous prestigious concert halls and festivals throughout the world including Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Japan; La Roque-d’Anthéron Piano Festival, La Roque-d’Anthéron, France; Biarritz Festival, Biarritz, France; Stoller Hall, Manchester, UK; Janacek academy of music and performing art, Brno, Czech Republic; Karlskrona International Piano Festival, Karlskrona, Sweden; by distinguished artists such as Kotaro Fukuma, Peter Jablonski, Daniel Grimwood, Margaret Fingerhut, Catherine Carby, Kristýna Znamenáčková,Jeffrey Biegel, Jean-Francois Bouvery and orchestras such as Windsor Symphony Orchestra or broadcasted on the NPR Radio 4, Netherland. The following is an interview with him on the ocaasion of the premier of the Legend of Bijan and Manijeh.

Developments in Iranian Music Since Qajar Era (III)

Developments in Composing

Along with developments in the Iranian instruments, composition of the Iranian pieces developed as well. As a matter of fact, the developments of the two, mutually affected each other. In other words, instrumental developments led to developments in composition and vice versa.

Musical Sense or Technique?

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.

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.

HarmonyTalk Journal’s Twentieth Anniversary Celebration

On the 10th of Khordad, 1403 (equivalent to May 30, 2024), the twentieth anniversary celebration of the online journal “HarmonyTalk” took place at the Ersbārān Cultural Center. The event garnered such interest from enthusiasts that the venue was completely filled.