Mohammad Reza Shajarian
The undisputed master of Persian classical singing
Mohammad Reza Shajarian
Mohammad Reza Shajarian was born on September 21, 1940 in Mashhad in northeastern Iran in the province of Khorasan.
He studied singing at the early age of five under the supervision of his father, and at the age of twelve he began studying the traditional classical repertoire known as the radif.
He studied with the great masters Esmail Mehrtash and Ahmad Ebadi, and learned the vocal styles of singers from previous generations, including Reza-Gholi Mirza Zelli, Ghamar-ol Molouk Vaziri, Eghbal Azar, and Taj Esfahani. He started playing the santur under the instruction of Jalal Akhbari in order to better understand and perform the traditional repertoire, and in 1960 he became the pupil of Faramarz Payvar.
Shajarian was deeply inspired by the late master vocalist Gholam Hossein Banan and adopted his style of singing for several years. He studied under the guidance of master Abdollah Khan Davami, from whom he learned the most ancient tasnifs (songs). Davami also passed on to Shajarian his own interpretation of the radif. Shajarian started his singing career in 1959 at Radio Khorasan, rising to prominence in the 1960s with his distinct style of singing, at once technically flawless, powerful, and intensely emotional. Since then, he has had an illustrious career that includes teaching at Tehran University's Department of Fine Arts (among other places), working at National Radio and Television, researching Iranian music, and making numerous important recordings.
Shajarian is the most famous living Iranian traditional musician and singer. In 1999 UNESCO in France presented him with the prestigious Picasso Award, one of Europe's highest honors, and in 2000 the Ministry of Culture in Iran declared him the best classical vocalist since the Revolution.
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.
Of other medals and prizes won by Shajarian one might refer to the international Quran Recitation Contest in Malaysia in summer 1979 in which he ranked second among readers. He received the radio and television golden cup in 1977 and Quran recitation prize (presented by Turkish Majlis speaker) in 1976.
Shajarian has five children namely Farzaneh, Afsaneh, Mojgan (daughters), Homayoon (a son from his first wife) and Rayan a son from Katayoon Khonsari, his second wife.
Mojgan whose name can be seen in all Shajarian's cassette tapes is a graphic designer and she handles the majority of her father's computer programming and printing of cassette tapes along with her husband, Mohammad Ali Rafiyee.