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Mahjubi, Morteza

morteza mahjubi

(1900-1965), composer and pianist,  noted for his use of the piano to perform traditional Iranian music.

Mahjubi, Morteza (b. Tehran, 1279/1900; d. Tehran, 1 Farvardin 1344/21 March 1965), celebrated composer and performer of the piano. He was a self-educated and innovative piano player who was renowned for his masterful utilization of the piano in performing traditional Iranian music.

Mahjubi’s father, Abbas-Ali Naser, was had artistic talent and played the Ney (an end-blown flute); and his mother, Fakhr-al-Sadat, knew how to play the piano. This very suitable family atmosphere and his own natural genius for music helped Morteza to get initiated into the world of music in his early childhood. As a child, he often sat behind the piano and played this instrument in his own childish fashion, creating certain tunes. His parents, noticing his talent for music, took him to Hosayn Hangafarin, a famous musician and performer of the violin and the piano to teach him the basics of music and performance of the piano. They later sent him to Mahmud Mofaham, a pianist and an outstanding student of master musician Aqa Hosaynqoli, to further familiarize him with the repertoire (radif) and melody sections of traditional Persian music and to help him master the art of piano playing (Khaleqi, I, pp. 250-51; NasAirifar, p. 329; Behruzi, p. 256).

Mahjubi’s genius in absorbing music manifested itself from early childhood. By the time he was ten years old, he had become an expert pianist who played in the gatherings of the aristocracy. His fame as a child prodigy reached such proportions that he, at the age of ten, participated in a concert featuring Aref Qazvini (q.v.) and accompanied Aref’s singing on the piano. Since Aref was extremely fastidious in regard to the performance of his band’s members, his acceptance of a young boy as his own back-up performer illustrates Mahjubi’s masterful excellence as a youthful pianist. He had become a well-known musician by the age of twelve and was regarded, by many, as the leading piano performer of his time. At the age of 13, he accompanied in concerts such celebrated masters of Persian music as Darvish Khan, Sayyed Hosayn Taherzada, and Hosayn Esmaeilzada.

In 1928 Mahjubi traveled to Beirut in the company of Abu’l-Hasan Saba Hosayn Yahaqqi, Morteza Ney-Dawud (q.v.), Abd-al-Hosayn Shahnazi, and other master musicians in order to have some of his musical works recorded on gramophone records. On this occasion, around 100 musical records were made, including two solo piano performances by Mahjubi. Other works of Ma?jubi, in which he has accompanied such masters of Iranian singing as Qamar-al-Moluk Waziri, Moluk Zarrabi (q.v.), Taj Esfahani, Adib Khansari (q.v.), Jawad Badizada (*qq.v.), and Qolam-Hosayn Banan (q.v.) on the piano, are regarded among the best examples of classical pieces of contemporary Persian music.

Mahjubi was not familiar with the international system of musical notation, so he invented his own system of writing music by using symbols that were somewhat similar to the siq script (a system of signs once used in accounting; for a sample see Nasirifar, p. 337).

 Parviz Yahaqqi, the Persian composer and violinist, has related that he had once composed a song that was to be broadcast on the radio. When the musical note sheets were distributed to the members of the orchestra, Mahjubi asked Yahaqqi to play the song on the violin. He then jotted the tune down in his own style of writing music on the back of his cigarette pack. When the rehearsal started, Mahjubi’s performance was unexpectedly more accurate than the rest of the orchestra (Behruzi, p. 256).

After the establishment of the Radio Tehran, Mahjubi was one of the first musicians to join it and to take part in its musical programs. Later, in 1956, when radio program entitled Golha (q.v.) was launched, Mahjubi became one of the most outstanding figures of this musical program, which aimed at demonstrating the aesthetic relationship between poetry and music in Persian culture (Sangin-qalam, I, page 144). According to Esmaeil Nawwab, Mahjubi would sometimes go to the Golha studio at Radio Tehran without an appointment or an advanced notice and play the piano in solitude. On such occasions, the technical personnel of the Golha program would, without Mahjubi’s knowledge, record his performance on tape. These recordings are now considered among the treasures of traditional Persian music (Nawab, p. 222).

morteza mahjubi

Composition. Numerous vocal and non-vocal pieces of music composed by Mahjubi are now at hand. Most of his rhythmic vocal compositions (tasnif), generally considered among the lasting pieces of Persian music, were performed by the distinguished vocalist Banan in the Golha program, with lyrics mostly composed by the celebrated poet Rahi Moaayyeri. In a radio interview with Taqi Ruhani, Mahjubi said that he had composed some 150 pieces of music including songs, Pish-daramads (preludes; see DARAMAD), chaharmezrab (improvised musical solos, q.v.) and Rengs (dance music; Nawwab, p. 218). It is interesting to note that according to many of the authorities of Iranian music, including According to Hosayn Alizada, Mahjubi’s song entitled “ Man az ruz-e azal”) is the most brilliant melody composed in the past one hundred years. (Please provide reference)

Style. The significance of Mahjubi’s work is partly in the fact that he performed Persian melodies on a completely Western instrument with such masterful excellence that one would think the piano was truly a Persian instrument (Behruzi, p. 256). According to Mr. Sasan Sepanta (p. 179), Mahjubi’s music contains embellishments and accents that brilliantly manifest genuine characteristics of Persian music

Mahjubi was one of the most prominent improvising music performers. He always began playing without advanced planning and his works always took form under the influence of his feelings and his sentimental impressions at the time of playing the piano. For this reason, if he played in the Dashti mode ten different times, ten very different works would be created. Due to this style of work, none of his compositions resemble any other (Nawwab, p. 218).

Source: encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com

Other Links:

Morteza Katouzian

Ghyath al-Din Jamshid Kashani

Abu Hamid Ghazali

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