Mohammad Reza Shajarian: Vocalist/Composer
Mohammad Reza Shajarian is the undisputed master of Persian traditional (classical) singing and is regarded as a national treasure by both musicians and music lovers. He is perhaps Iran's most diverse and prolific singer of all time and has a huge repertory of recorded works. In 1999 UNESCO presented him with the prestigious Picasso Medal in France and in 2000, the Ministry of Culture in Iran declared him "Best Classical Vocalist." In Persian classical music, singing is one of the most difficult arts to master. Shajarian is widely considered the embodiment of the perfect singer and a major source of inspiration to other musicians. Born in 1940 in the city of Mashhad in northeastern Iran, Shajarian began singing at the age of five under the supervision of his father and at the age of twelve he began studying the traditional classical repertoire (radif). He studied with the great masters Ahmad Ebadi and Esmaeel Mehrtash and learned the vocal styles of singers from previous generations. He also studied under the guidance of master Abdollah Davami, from whom he learned the most ancient tasnifs (songs). Shajarian's singing career began at Radio Khorasan in 1959 and he rose 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 has included teaching at Tehran University's Department of Fine Arts, working at the National Iranian Radio and Television Organization, researching Iranian music, and making countless important recordings. He performs regularly in Iran and throughout the world.