The following is a guest post by Ashkaan Kashani, an Iranian-American musician and a graduate student in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles. His research interests include Persian literature, Islamic philosophy, and psychoanalysis.
Mohammad Reza Shajarian, one of the greatest virtuosos in the history of Persian classical music, passed away in October 2020, at the age of eighty. The absence of his sublime voice will be felt for many years to come. Tens of thousands of Iranians attended his burial ceremony in the ancient city of Tus to pay their respects, while Iranians around the world entered a state of mourning . Following his death, Shajarian was interred alongside the mausoleum of Iran’s national poet Ferdowsi. This was a consequence of more than just their joint Khorasani heritage; it was justified by the fact that Shajarian was a monumental figure in Persian music and a beloved Iranian cultural icon.
Three years before the 1979 Iranian Revolution at the Shiraz Arts Festival, Shajarian performed with two other icons of Iranian music, tār and setār virtuoso Mohammad Reza Lotfi and tonbak master Nasser Farhangfar. In death, Shajarian joins both Lotfi and Farhangfar, marking the disappearance of a generation of musicians who matured, in musicianship and demeanor, amidst the Revolution and Iran-Iraq war.