Shajarian is the undisputed master of Persian traditional (classical) singing. He is regarded as a national treasure by both musicians and music lovers. His singing is technically flawless, powerful, and strongly emotional. In music of Iran, traditional singing is the most difficult art to master. Shajarian is the embodiment of the perfect singer and a major source of inspiration.
Born in 1940 in the city of Mash'had in northeastern Iran, Mohammad Reza Shajarian began singing spiritual songs at the age five under the supervision of his father. Only a few years later his precocious talent was to be renowned throughout the town of Mash'had. In spite of his religious upbringing, at the age of twelve he was familiarizing himself with the traditional song repertoire and the first piece he was to sing was the Gham-Angiz Goosheh of Dashti. He was also interested at the same time in popular music from Khorasan and the other regions of Iran.His focus at first was on the local folk music of his native province, Khorasan, but later at the age of twelve he studied the traditional repertoire, the Radif.
After college, he became a schoolteacher and was to find himself at much greater liberty to study all forms of traditional music and gradually relinquish religious singing. What follows is a resume of the major landmarks in Mohammad Reza Shajarian's artistic career. On the arrival in Teheran he met Ahmad Ebadi, the great Setar master who is today sole heir to the musical tradition upheld by his family. His meeting of the late Esmail Mehrtash was to initiate him in the fine nuances of traditional singing, in popular melodies and in artistic technique.
Right from the earliest age he learnt how to sing the different versions of the Radif from the most highly reputed singers such as Reza Gholi Mirza Zelli, Ghamar-ol Molouk Vaziri, Eghbal-Soltan Azar, and Taaj Esfahani Noor-Ali Khan Boroomand and Taher Zadeh Esfahani.Shajarian started playing the santur under the instructions of Jalal Akhbari to better understand and perform the traditional repertoire, and in 1960, To improve his technique, became the pupil of the Santoor Maestro Faramarz Payvar which lead to his acquiring perfect interpretative and executant mastery on instrument phrases transposed for the voice.
Shajarian was deeply inspired by the late master vocalist Gholam Hossein Banan and adopted his style of singing for several years. An important event in his life was his productive encounter with the great master Abdollah Khan Davami, who was to impart to him the most ancient Tasnifs (songs) and the authentic version of the Radif which had been passed onto him by the greatest masters of the previous century.
Shajarian started his singing career in 1959 at Radio Khorasan. He rose to prominence in the 1960s with his distinct style of singing. Since then, he has led an illustrious career that includes teaching at Tehran University's department of Fine Arts (among other places), researching the musical arts of Iran, and workingat the National Radio and Television. He has been performing regularly in Iran and throughout the world. His performances have brought him universal acclaim and an eminent position among his compatriots.
Besides his tremendous musical talent, Shajarian has had a life-long passion for Persian Calligraphy. Since 1967, he has practiced this art under the instructions of two Iranian master calligraphers, Ebrahim Buzari, and Hossein Mirkhani.At present, he is considered an accomplished calligrapher with his own distinct style.
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