Mohammad-Reza Shajarian

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Mohammad-Reza Shajarian

Mohamdreza Shajarian.jpg
Mohammad-Reza Shajarian

(1940-09-23) September 23, 1940 (age 79)
Mashhad, Iran
Alma materShah Reza School
Spouse(s)Farkhondeh Golafshan (1962–1993, divorce)[1]
Katayoun Khansari (1995–present)
Children5, including Homayoun
Musical career
GenresPersian traditional music
Years active1959–present
LabelsSantur, Tonbak
Associated actsAref Ensemble
Mohammad Reza Shajarian signature.svg

Mohammad-Reza Shajarian (Persian: محمدرضا شجريان‎; Persian pronunciation: [mohæmːæd ɾeˈzɒː ʃædʒæɾiˈɒːn]) (born 23 September 1940) is an Iranian classical singer, composer and Ostad (master) of Persian traditional music.[2][3][4] He has been called "Iran's greatest living maestro of Persian classical music."[5] Shajarian is also known for his skills in Persian calligraphy, and humanitarian activities.

Shajarian was born in Mashhad, Iran, and started singing at the age of five, under the supervision of his father. At the age of twelve, he began studying the traditional classical repertoire known as the Radif. Shajarian started his singing career in 1959 at Radio Khorasan, rising to prominence in the 1960s with his distinct style of singing. His main teachers were Ahmad Ebadi, Esmaeil Mehrtash, Abdollah Davami, and Nour-Ali Boroumand. He also learned the vocal styles of singers from previous generations, including Reza Gholi Mirza Zelli, Fariborz Manouchehri, Ghamar Molouk Vaziri, Eghbal Azar, and Taj Isfahani. He has cited legendary Iranian tar musician Jalil Shahnaz as highly influential to his development, indicating that he has often tried to mimic Shahnaz's playing style in his singing.

Shajarian has collaborated with Parviz Meshkatian, Mohammad Reza Lotfi, Hossein Alizadeh, and Faramarz Payvar. He is recognised as skilled singer in the challenging traditional Dastgah style. In 1999 UNESCO in France presented him with the Picasso Award and in 2006 with the UNESCO Mozart Medal.

In March 2016, Shajarian revealed that he has had kidney cancer for the past fifteen years.[6] He appeared with shaved hair in his Nowrouz congratulation video, published on his YouTube account.

Early work[edit]

Shajarian at Shiraz Arts Festival.

Shajarian studied singing at the early age of five under the supervision of his father by recitation of the Quran. At the age of twelve, he began studying the Persian traditional classical repertoire known as the Radif without his father's consent as studying and performing music was against his father's religious beliefs. May be that's why he chose the stage name "Siavash Bidakani" in his early career as a singer, which didn't last long and soon he used his real name again. Shajarian started his singing career in 1959 at Radio Khorasan, rising to prominence in the 1960s with his distinct style of singing. Since then his career has included teaching at Tehran University's Department of Fine Arts, working at National Radio and Television, researching Iranian music, and making numerous recordings.

Music bands[edit]

Shajarian has not always been in music groups, but he currently does the vocals for the Masters of Persian Music with his son Homayoun Shajarian, as well as two other ostads, Kayhan Kalhor and Hossein Alizadeh. He also performs with his daughter Mozhgan Shajarian.

In 2008, he toured the world with the Ava Ensemble, composed of his son Homayoun (tombak and vocals), Hossein Behroozinia (barbat), Majid Derakhshani (tar), Hossain Rezaeenia (daf), and Saeed Farajpouri (kamanche).[7]

In 2012, he toured with the Shahnaz Ensemble with his daughter Mojgan Shajarian and other band members. The ensemble is named after master tar musician Jalil Shahnaz, with a percentage of the proceeds going towards supporting his health care needs.

Significant Works[edit]


Shajarian studied with Esmaeil Mehrtash, Ahmad Ebadi, and Nour-Ali Boroumand and learned the vocal styles of previous generations of singers such as Seyed Hossein Taherzadeh, Reza Gholi Mirza Zelli, Ghamar Molouk Vaziri, Eghbal Azar, and Taj Isfahani. He started playing the santour under the instruction of Jalal Akhbari in order to better understand and perform the traditional repertoire. In 1971, he was introduced to Faramarz Payvar and took santour lessons with him. Shajarian also learned Abolhasan Saba's vocal Radif from Payvar. He also studied under the guidance of master Abdollah Davami, from whom he learned many early Persian songs. Abdollah Davami also passed on to Shajarian his own interpretation of the Radif.

Compassion for Bam, Benefit Concert at the Art garden[edit]

On December 26, 2003, the ancient city of Bam in south Iran - which is on the UNESCO list of world heritages on the account of its unique mud-brick architecture - was hit with a devastating earthquake; it severed and killed tens of thousands and ruined the city. As Mohammad Reza Shajarian had decided through the occurrences of the previous natural disasters in Iran, he organized another benefit concert by the following month which is notably documented on the DVD Hamnava ba Bam (“Compassion for Bam”) that is released on Delnawaz. Apart from the concert, he initiated a project to help the people after the earthquake.[8]

Political protest[edit]

Shajarian at a concert in London

Shajarian's Bidaad album was recorded after a three-year hiatus from commercial recording. The lyrics of the album speak of a wonderful place having been reduced to shambles and bloodshed, in which he sings in sadness "what happened?". When giving a lecture at California State University, Sacramento on March 2, 2012, he was asked what the lyrics of this song meant. His response made it clear that he chose these lyrics based on what happened to the Iranian regime in the aftermath of the revolution - a once beautiful country being reduced to shambles. [Citation needed) This is widely considered [by whom?] his first commercial recording meant to represent the voice of an oppressed people in Iran.

Shajarian has indicated support for Iranians protesting against the 12 June 2009 Iranian presidential election results. When Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad referred to the protesters as "dust and trash", Shajarian told a BBC BBC Persian channel telephone interviewer that he (Shajarian) considered himself the voice of dust and trash: "It is the voice of dust and trash and it will always remain the voice of dust and trash." He also asked IRIB (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting) to stop broadcasting his songs. He mentioned that his famous song "Iran, Ey Saraye Omid" (Iran, the land of Hope), has no relation with the current situation of his country.

Lyrics of his song "Language of Fire," issued in September 2009, — "Lay down your gun, Come, sit down, talk, hear. Perhaps the light of humanity will get through to your heart too" — are thought by some observers to speak "directly to the plainclothes Basiji militiamen and security forces" who beat protesters during recent unrest.[5]

New Musical Instruments Inventions[edit]

Shajarian has led the invention of many new Iranian classical music instruments, many of which were showcased in his 2012 concert tour with the Shahnaz Ensemble. Among these instruments are the Kereshmeh, the Saboo, the Saghar, the Sorahi, and the Tondar.

Awards and distinctions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ خانواده شجریان ( همسر اولش و دومش + پسر و دخترش ) عکس و بیوگرافی Retrieved 2016-09-12.
  2. ^ Master of Persian Classical Music: Mohammad Reza Shajarian Retrieved 2017-12-23.
  3. ^ "Mohammad Reza Shajarian". Archived from the original on 2007-10-17. Retrieved 2007-10-28.
  4. ^ "Asia Society Presents: Mohammad Reza Shajarian, Classical Music of Iran". Asia Society. 1998-09-23. Archived from the original on 2007-10-15. Retrieved 2007-10-28.
  5. ^ a b Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran and Borzou Daragahi in Beirut (2009-09-06). "IRAN: Famous singer Shajarian decries 'Language of Fire,'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2017-12-23.
  6. ^ Rudaw – Iran’s iconic singer Shajarian hints at cancer, refers to illness as ‘old friend’
  7. ^ "Shajarian strides across world music stage". The Vancouver Sun. 2008-05-01. Archived from the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2010-02-04.
  8. ^ Simms, Rob; Koushkani, Amir (2012). Mohammad Reza Shajarian's Avaz in Iran and Beyond, 1979-2010. Lexington Books. p. 118. ISBN 9780739172094.
  9. ^ Steve Inkeep (2010-09-27). "Mohammad Reza Shajarian: Protest Through Poetry". NPR. Retrieved 2017-12-23.
  10. ^ روزنا[permanent dead link] Retrieved 2007-01-23.


  • Laudan Nooshin, in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, edited by Stanley Sadie, second edition (Macmillan, London, 2001). ISBN 1-56159-239-0. (Oxford University Press, 2001). ISBN 0-19-517067-9.

External links[edit]