A Persian Nocturne for Piano

A Night in a Persian Garden is the name of a Nocturne composed by the Persian (Iranian) contemporary composer Behzad Ranjbaran. This Nocturne, published by the Theodore Presser Company in the US, was performed for the first time in 2002 in New York City by the young Persian pianist Soheil Nasseri and has enjoyed many performances by other pianists.

Ranjbaran, born in Tehran in 1955, began his formal violin training at the Tehran Music Conservatory at the age 9. He moved to the United States in 1974, where he attended Juilliard School of Music and received his doctorate in music composition. He is now the professor of music in the Juilliard School in New York City. In 1990, Ranjbaran was named Distinguished Artist by the New Jersey Council on the Arts and received Rudolf Nissim Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) for his violin concerto. His additional honors include a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a grant from Meet the Composer (composer/choreographer project), and a Charles Ives Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

  His compositions have been performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic, and the symphony orchestras of Toronto, Indianapolis, Virginia among others. Last year Delos released Persian Trilogy, recorded by London Symphony Orchestra, a cycle of orchestral works inspired by the stories of Shahnameh.  This album was also released by Hermes Records in Tehran.

Unlike most nocturnes that are generally two to three minutes long (like Chopin nocturnes), his fifteen-page nocturne, requires a playtime of approximately ten minutes. The moods that are shaped by this piece revolve around a four-note motive that descends in step-like fashion.

Ranjbaran’s inspiration for this nocturne comes from his childhood memories in Persia. Although there was no effort on his behalf to necessarily write a piece based on classical Persian (Iranian) music, in the opening of the Nocturne one may hear vaguely the sound of santour, or hammer dulcimer, a Persian musical instrument. “The truth is that my compositions are not based on Dastgah (Persian classical mode).

  I believe the true character of the traditional music and its quarter tones can only be expressed fully with the Persian instruments. It is more natural for me to be inspired by the color and the overall sound of traditional music rather than arranging the Persian Dastgah for a large orchestra or retuning a piano with quarter tones,” Ranjbaran says.  “Of course, this has been done by other composers and has its own merits, but what is important to me is to express emotions and my overall impression of Persian music in my own way than copying the traditional music.

Although I don’t favor the arrangement of Dastgah for a large orchestra or non-traditional instruments, I do believe that an artist should be allowed to express him/herself freely with no censorship. This freedom to experiment allows the artist to explore the possibilities in the creation of different musical styles and instruments thus contributing to the evolution of music as an art form. It should also be noted that today in the world, the higher technical ability of performers in general has impacted the quality of music dramatically.

We should pay attention to the continuous fusion of musical styles and innovations. The experiments and innovations should be allowed and only time would tell which ones would be accepted as the mainstream. I would like to bring up Debussy’s piano work as an example here. Many of his innovations in music were influenced by the use of eastern modes and overall color of eastern instruments.  While other innovations have not entered in the vocabulary of the piano, his works are embraced by pianists world wide.”

Returning to the subject of his music and its structure, Ranjbaran mostly composes around small motives with tonal centers rather than writing in a certain key like C major or G major.  When Ranjbaran was asked about other Persian composers such as E. Malik Aslanian and Houshang Ostovar, he responded: “unfortunately, for the past thirty years I didn’t have much of an opportunity to hear their work and even when I studied music in Tehran, their work was seldom recorded or even performed, therefore I never had a chance to enjoy their music.”

payvand.com

Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *
*
*
Your email is never shared.

Maestro Hassan Nahid’s Role in Promoting the Ney

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.

History’s Impact on Evaluating a Work of Art

With this description, we have automatically included a criterion called “History”, Until we know the time of the creation of a work of art, we cannot judge whether it has been easy to create or not. Suppose that, in a historical study, we find a musical work that is similar in compositional techniques (including form, melody, context, and orchestration) to a minor work of the nineteenth century; however, our research proves that, this work dates back to 200 years prior to that date. Can we still consider this work insignificant? Definitely not! So this is where the first use of history-based judgment comes into play.

From Past Days…

Polyphony in Iranian Music (V)

In addition to the above-mentioned, polyphony can be also formed when a melody is performed by several singers in different ambiances or different sound registers according to their physiologic abilities. An example of this has been performed in rituals of Khanqah of Ghaderi darawish of Mahabad[i].

Iranian Fallacies: Iranian Chords

Finding a way to harmonize the Iranian music has been the subject of controversy among Iranian musicians for a long time. Some believe in the creation of harmonies for Iranian music based on a method which is similar to the tierce harmony; while others have either selected or invented some other methods. There are also some musicians who do not basically agree with the harmonization of the Iranian music.

Hossein Aslani passed away!

Hossein Aslani, Iranian pianist residing in the US, passed away due to cancer in late January 2020. His last musical activity was an article written for Harmony Talk entitled “Iran amidst musical struggle” in 2016, his memoir entitled “I Play You Again” in the same year and his album “Symbolic Emotion” published by Arganoun Publications in 2014. Here is a brief biography of Hossein Aslani according to his own website:

“I Will Never Perform Just for Women!”: Golnoush Khaleghi Passes Away in Exile

Golnoush Khaleghi, first Persian woman conductor and daughter of legendary composer Rouhollah Khaleghi, passed away on February 14. She was 80. Golnoush Khaleghi was the conductor of the NIRT (National Iranian Radio & Television) Choir in the 1970s. Shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution Ms. Khaleghi moved to the United States and founded the Rouhollah…
Read More »

Principles of Violin Playing (II)

Since for playing violin, it’s necessary that the player’s palms and fingers be inclined toward the fingerboard, therefore, the player, while bringing up his hand, should turn it toward the fingerboard.

From the Last Instrumentalist to the First Composer (II)

Rouhollah Khaleghi was the master of composing beautiful melodies. He was the premier of the course of history which was first established by Ali Naghi Vaziri and which improved the Iranian music from simply a gathering music to the classical music of the country. First efforts to compose independent and instrumental music can be also traced in Khaleghi’s works.

A Note on the Occasion of Houshang Zarif’s Demise

No introduction is needed when talking about the position of the late Houshang Zarif (1938-2020) in the Iranian music. His character and personality are so well-known among musicians that his name per se is a symbol and role model for the Iranian youth. “Becoming Houshang Zarif” is the dream of many young people who enter the world of music in Iran and many of whom retire regretting the realisation of this dream.

Maestro Hassan Nahid’s Role in Promoting the Ney

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.

Hassan Kassai, Ney Virtuoso

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.

A Promising Concert by National Instruments Orchestra

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.