1133 GMT November 28, 2020
Hossein Alizadeh is an Iranian master of Persian classical music and one of the most talented musicians. He is a radif preserver, composer and a solo tar player.
He was born 69 years ago today. Khayyam Street, located in downtown Tehran, is the place where Alizadeh spent his childhood. He says his father disputed him over going to conservatory of music because the gatherings and atmosphere of music community was filled with narcotics abuse. But Alizadeh promised his father that he will never go near drugs, and then he was allowed to study music.
He learned the radif of Persian music with several Iranian music maestros such as Ali Akbar Khan Shanazi, Nur Ali Borumand, Abdollah Khan Davami, Yousef Foroutan, Saied Hormozi and Houshang Zarif. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in music composition and performance from the University of Tehran, he studied composition and musicology at the University of Berlin.
He is considered one of the most influential musicians of the contemporary Persian music since his works are not imitating the old forms and melodies of Persian music, but they are a breathtaking combined initiative between leaning on tradition and blooming of innovation. Alizadeh established the acclaimed Aref Ensemble and worked with Sheyda Ensemble.
He has also worked with several western composition and music groups. His first professional experience in Europe was playing in the orchestra of the famous Bejart Ballet Company in Maurice Bejart’s Ballet, Lausanne.
Some of Alizadeh’s distinguished and most admirable compositions are The Nava Improvisations (1976), Riders of the Plains of Hope (1977), Hesar (1977), Revolt (1983), Ney Nava (1983), Dream (1986), Torkaman (1986), Raz-O-Niaz (1986), Delshodegan (1987), Song of Compassion (1991), New Secret (1996), A Time for Drunken Horse (2000), Turtles can Fly (2004), Endless Vision (2004), Nive Mang (2006), and Under the Razor(2007). His collection Endless Vision was nominated for the Best World Music Album of the Year 2006 in the 49th Edition of Grammy Awards. He also worked with the great Iranian singer Mohmmad-Reza Shjarian in works such as Zemestan Ast (2000), Bi To Be Sar Nemishavad (2002), Faryad (2005).
On 28 November 2014, he refused to accept France’s high distinction in art, Legion of Honor. He wrote a letter to show his gratefulness for the award saying he preferred not to add any title to his name.
His youth coincided the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. He joined the Chavoosh Ensemble which was founded by Mohammad-Reza Lotfi and wrote songs and composed slogans against Shah’s regime. The songs and slogans he composed made a huge impact on the young generation protesting against the dictatorship of Pahlavi dynasty.
Alizadeh made a tremendous effort to consolidate the role of female artists in the music community. He established the Hamavayan Ensemble in 1989 with a new approach to the traditional Iranian choral singing. Playing traditional instruments, the ensemble has appeared in many of Alizadeh’s compositions including New Secret, Gabbeh, Songs of Compassion and Endless Vision.
Alizadeh has proved the significant point that it is possible to innovate and flourish in music and remain committed to the tradition and traditional forms.
* Mahan Norouzpour is an Iranian student of philosophy and researcher in Iranian culture and music.