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  • Date :
  • 9/12/2011

 Abul-Qasem Aref Qazvini

part 2


ii. Aref’s Music

Aref was the most influential tasnif (song) composer and performer of the period of the Constitutional Revolution. His works are among the best representatives of the classical tasnif style of the late Qajar period and are considered an important part of the currently performed traditional repertoire of Persian classical music. In responding to the economic and political events of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Aref mainly composed political tasnifs, which he used as effective vehicles to mobilize pro-revolutionary sentiment.

At the age of thirteen, Aref studied music with Hajji Sadeq Karrazi for a period of fourteen months. Under pressure from his father to become a rawza-khan. Aref sang nawha (religious threnodies) for two to three years, accompanying the sermons of Mirza Hossein Waez Qazvini, his religious instructor. This period of training gave Aref a background in both classical music and traditional rawza-khani. In his compositions he used traditional themes and forms in order to reach his audience, make them cry, and persuade them to act on whatever event or situation he set out to portray. In a nation attuned to the poetic theme of the lover-and-his-beloved, he portrays the nation as the beloved and the people as its lovers.

After moving to Tehran in 1898, Aref found favor as an entertainer in aristocratic circles. He eventually joined the supporters of the constitutional movement. At the time of the granting of the constitution (1324/1906), however, he had not yet written songs for the revolution. It was the events following Mohammad-Ali Sah’s bombarding and closing of the parliament (1908) that precipitated Aref’s political song writing. When in 1909 revolutionary forces entered Tehran and deposed the sah, he composed his first song ”Ey aman”‌ with political overtones. Often accompanied by إ okrallah Khan on the tar (long-necked lute, q.v.), he began to sing his gazals and tasnifs in demonstrations and in revolutionary meetings, traveling from town to town.

One of his best-known tasnifs, ”Az kun-e javanan-e watan,”‌ was written in the mode of Dashti during the period of the Second Parliament (1909-11). This particular piece combines traditional metaphors with an emotional call to action. In form it is typical of many of Aref’s tasnifs, which are stanzaic with a recurring refrain.

The Kolliyat-e divan attributes twenty-nine tasnifs to Aref, although at least two were actually composed by others. These tasnifs reflect the events of his life””his fluctuating causes, loves, and moods. Exhortative revolutionary tasnifs are mixed with those which complain bitterly of defeats and injustice. They portray and react to events of the first years of the constitutional period; pointing out conditions of oppression, injustice, corrupting foreign influence, imperialism, and loss of national pride. For example, ”Nang an kana”‌ (1911) was written because of the Russian ultimatum to dismiss the American Morgan Suster, who had been hired by the Second Parliament.Aref wrote "Che Shuhra”‌ (1917-18) to warn Iran of Turkey’s intention to annex Azerbaijan. ”Gerya kon”‌ (1921/22) commemorates the death of Colonel Mohammad-Taqi Khan Pesyan whom Aref considered to be the last real defender of the rights of Iran (Kolliyat-e divan, p. 394).

Other Links:

Edward Fitzgerald (part 4)

Abul-Ghasem Payandeh (part 1)

Abul-Ghasem Payandeh (part 2)

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