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7/12/06

Publication of "Persian Writing on Music" in Sweden

By Pejman Akbarzadeh
Source: CHN
 
Uppsala University in Sweden has recently published a book entitled "Persian Writing on Music: A study of Persian Musical Literature from 1000 to 1500 AD". The author, Mehrdad Fallahzadeh, is a Persian (Iranian) musicologist living in Sweden and this book is in fact his Ph. D. dissertation.
 

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In this 268-page work written in English, Fallahzadeh has tried to map the development of Persian writings on music, focusing on their various approaches and variations of topics from the beginning of the 11th century to the end of the 15th century which can be called the classical period of Persian writings on music. According to the author, the rise of Persian musical literature as a part of Persian learned literature was a result of the political and cultural decentralization of the Abbasid Caliphates.

"The most important conclusions to be drawn from the study are that we can distinguish between two main approaches in Persian writings on music, i.e. the religious and non-religious approaches," says Mehrdad Fallahzadeh, "We can identify five different stages in the development of the genre between 1000 and 1500, 1) the initial period: ca 1000-1110; 2) the first intermezzo: ca 1110 up to 1175; 3) the period of establishment: ca 1175-1299; 4) the first Golden Age of the genre: ca 1300-1435; 5) the second intermezzo: ca 1435-1500."

The book begins with the transliteration system, a list of transliterations and abbreviations used in the work. In the introduction, the scope of the work and the author's purpose and method are explained. The author in the introduction points out that although a number of scholars such as Mohammad-Taghi Daneshpazhuh, Taghi Binesh, Mohammad-Taghi Massoudieh and A. Monzavi, have tried to draw our attentions to this literary heritage over the past forty years, nobody knows how many treatises and works have been lost or are still lying unpublished somewhere in private libraries hidden from sight.

In "Persian Writing on Music" almost fifty treatises and works (both separate treatises and works which are parts of a larger work on music) have been presented and treated. Numerous catalogues published by different libraries and institutions have been studied in this book. However, three catalogues, i.e. Massoudieh's catalogue (1996) in French, published in München; Monzavi's (1972) and Daneshpazhuh's (1970) catalogues, have had particular significance for the work. The author notes that almost all studies and researches in this field were done by Persian scholars. The only scholar outside the borders of
Persia (Iran) who has tried to introduce some Persian works on music is Storey. In his work "Persian literature: A bio-bibliographical survey" (Storey 1977), he introduces briefly some 47 Persian writings on music.

In the first chapter of the book the author tries to find the possible roots of Persian writings on music in the ancient world. Each chapter from the second to the sixth chapter has been divided into two sections. In the first section of each chapter, cultural, social, political, religious and economic circumstances that either directly or indirectly have an impact on the development of this genre of learned literature have been discussed. In the second section, biographies of authors and their works have been presented. Detailed analysis of the works and deeper discussions of them have been presented in the last chapter (the seventh chapter) of the book.

The last part of the book consists of five appendixes, a bibliography and an index.

Mehrdad Fallahzadeh, the author of the book, was born in 1961 in Tehran. He began his musical education in piano in Tehran Conservatory of Music when he was ten years old. His piano teachers were Farideh Behboud and later Aghdas Pourtorab. During his early years at high school, he began to study composition with Mostafa-Kamal Pourtorab. He got his diploma in music from the Tehran Conservatory in 1979 and continued his higher education there with Karim Gougerdchi.

With the beginning of the "cultural revolution" in 1980 and the closure of Tehran Conservatory, Mehrdad Fallahzadeh began to teach in private music schools. After a while he left his country and settled in Sweden in 1988. He continued his musical education in Sweden, first at the department of musicology of Göteborg University and later in Uppsala University in courses in musicology, composition and music anthropology. Mehrdad got his MA in musicology from Uppsala University with his thesis under the title of "The Impact of European music on Persian art music during the second half of the 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th century". He obtained his PhD in Iranian (Persian) Studies in Uppsala University in 2000. Under the supervision of Prof. Bo Utas, he chose Persian musical literature as the subject of his PhD dissertation. Mehrdad Fallahzadeh defended his dissertation and obtained his PhD from Uppsala University in 2005. 

About the author: Pejman Akbarzadeh is a 26-year old pianist, researcher and a member of 'Artists Without Frontiers' in Tehran. He is author of
"Persian Musicians" which is about the artistic activities and works of 20th century musicians of Persia (Iran) and was cited as "an honor to Persian musicological circles" in the Maryland-based "Iranian Musicology Quarterly".
 
 

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