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 this article, he reviews the history of polyphony in the Iranian music and offers his points of view:
A survey of the history of the Iranian music proves that the Iranian music has always been unison. Although in some of old Iranian books on music, the pleasant and unpleasant characteristics of intervals are discussed, it is not imaginable that “harmony” has been part of the Iranian music. However, in the Western world harmony has been experimentally applied since the tenth century B.C. and was first used in church performances and the harmonic human voice. Harmony was introduced to form orchestras and the issue of orchestral harmony emerged.
As far as I remember, the first step in harmonizing the Iranian music was taken when the French Alfred Jean-Baptiste Lemaire (1842-1907), a military musician and composer, visited Iran [in 1868]. Lemaire arranged some of the Iranian songs for the piano, which were played with the right hand and the left hand accompanied by playing some “chords”. They were very simple and basic, and were then arranged by the so-called military music “technicians” for a military orchestra. I remember that when I was a child, some of these melodies and Tasnifs were performed by musicians. Some of these songs were published by Mozaffar ad-Din Shah (the fifth Qajar king of Iran, reigning from 1896 until his death in 1907) in France, a copy of which is available at the Library of the National Conservatory of Music.
Monsieur Lemaire used to teach music theory to students at Dar ul-Funun where the first book on the theory of music in Iran was compiled by the French musician’s Persian language interpreter and was published by Dar ul-Funun publishing house in 1882.
In the next years, Gholam Reza Khan Minbashian, a.k.a Salar-Mo’azez, a student of Dar ul-Funun, who later graduated from military music from the Conservatory of Petrograd, was appointed as the head of the music school and followed Monsieur Lemaire’s works.
- The Structure of Kurdistan Daf (II)
- The Structure of Kurdistan Daf (I)
- A Look at Ali Tajvidi’s Manifold Musical Activities (II)
- A Look at Ali Tajvidi’s Manifold Musical Activities (I)
- Motherland Orchestra Broke the Spell of the Covid-19 Restrictions
- Is the Iranian National Anthem a Copy? (II)
- Is the Iranian National Anthem a Copy? (I)
- A few steps on the “Road to Bach”
- Maestro Hassan Nahid’s Role in Promoting the Ney
- History’s Impact on Evaluating a Work of Art
- Farhad Poupel’s piece, Road to Bach, performed at Suntory Hall
- “Symphonic Poems from Persia” Released in Germany
From Past Days…
Maestro Hassan Nahid is one of the most prominent and distinctive artists who values high morals, discipline and hard work. His music activities include playing the Ney as both soloist and an accompaniment in the most important Iranian music orchestras and ensembles during the last fifty years, including the Orchestra of Iranian Instruments (Nusratullah Golpayegani), the Orchestra of National Instrumentalists of the Ministry of Culture and Arts (Payvar Orchestra), the Orchestra of Iranian Instruments (Morteza Hananeh) , Darvish Orchestra, Samaie Orchestra, Roudaki Orchestra, Maestros’ Ensemble, Aref Ensemble, as well as performances in various radio programs, many concerts in different countries, as well as a long teaching experience in the National Conservatory of Music, music universities and other music institutions to name but a few.
Tajvidi thought of studying harmony and orchestration with Houshang Ostvar (who was eight years younger than him) at a time when he had gained a reputation among musicians. His humbleness, making him willing to kneel before the scholars at any age and position, became the key to his scientific success. After this period, Tajvidi made some of his works polyphonic, the most prominent of which is “Burn” set to a poem by Abdullah Ulfat. However, his ability to make his works polyphonic was not so great to make him self-sufficient; so he depended on musicians such as Farhad Fakhreddini, Fereydoun Naseri, Kambiz Roshanravan, Fereydoun Shahbazian and Morteza Hananeh for the arrangement of his compositions.
After watching Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie, The Hateful Eight, everyone was excited by its novel music besides the beautiful scenes of blood and guts.
The Hateful Eight is the first collaboration between the world-famous film music composer, Ennio Morricone, and Quentin Tarantino as a famous director.
The National Instruments Orchestra of Iran performed its first concert amid much hope and anxiety on July 18, 2015. The Orchestra is founded by Roudaki Cultural and Arts Foundation which is a semi-private foundation in Iran. The Arts Director for the National Instruments Orchestra of Iran is cand the Orchestra Executive Director is Sadjad Pourghand.
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.
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.
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.
Today, percussion instruments have such a high place in music that are an essential element of orchestras. This has attracted many people to this type of instrument with roots as old as the first humans. A historical study of music, shows that humans used the sound of these instruments to defend themselves against wild animals and, over time, for alerting each other, signaling their readiness and encouraging people for war, ritual ceremonies, dances, etc. in a manner that is still clearly visible in music and some ritual ceremonies.
Gholam Reza Khan Minbashian, a.k.a Salar-Mo’azez, was a pioneer in several domains in the history of the Iranian music. He is recognized as the first Iranian musician who was educated in classical music. He is also the first Iranian the score of whose works were published in Europe. He is the first Iranian to have launched courses on Western classical music and was also the first Iranian teacher of classical music. Moreover, he is the first founder of a string orchestra in Iran, the first author of the Iranian Radif which was available in oral form. Minbashian is also the first Iranian who studied music in Europe.
The year 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of Evlin Baghcheban’s death. She played a crucial role to promote opera and choral music in Persia (Iran). Born to an Assyrian-French family in Turkey, she studied singing and piano at the Ankara State Conservatory. In 1950 Evlin married the Persian composer and fellow student Samin Baghcheban and moved to Tehran.