Music is a part of everyone’s life, but Iranians’ connection to music is special. In Iran, every aspect of people’s lives is linked to music. No matter if there is a sad or happy occasion, there is always a piece of music created by a great Iranian musician to help people.
In Greek mythology, muses are the motivators that inspire artists to produce their arts. But, growing up in an Iranian family, you have heard some Iranian musicians that are the utter muse for so many people because of the pieces of music they produced throughout their careers.
The best thing about art, and especially music, is that you don’t necessarily need to know the language to connect to it. Music has its own universal language that speaks to your soul and lets you discover and experience some feelings you have never thought existed. So, what can be better than a piece of music to show you a new culture and a new way of thinking?
Let’s get to know the top Iranian musicians that dedicated their whole life to create extraordinary music.
One of the most popular Persian composers, and a Grammy award winner, Kayhan Kalhor, has a special place among all Iranian musicians. He was born in November 1963 in Tehran, the capital of Iran. According to his official website, he started learning music at age seven from a known master of music, Ahmad Mohajer.
The first and main instrument he learned was Kamancheh; which you can see how beautiful Kalhor plays in his concerts. His professional, bright, and proud career started early. Iranian National Radio and Television Orchestra invited him to play there when he was a teenager. At the age of 17, Kalhor went to Canada to study music at Carleton University. Then, he came back to Tehran, and from that day till now, he performed with many great Iranian musicians such as Homayoun and Mohammad Reza Shajarian and international musicians. He created the Ghazal ensemble with Shujaat Husain Khan, a famous Indian musician. Kalhor got nominated for 3 Grammy awards during his career. Eventually, he won his Grammy with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble in 2017.
You can listen to some of his best music pieces, such as “silent city” on Spotify.
If magicians really existed, Jalal Zolfonoun would be one of them. The way he performs setar, you can feel music notes find their way to your soul and take you to another state of being. Persian music owes Jalal Zolfonoun a lot because he was the first Persian musician who wrote a tutorial book for playing setar. His collaboration with Shahram Nazeri in “Gol-e Sad Barg” and “Atashi Dar Neyestan” albums is unforgettable. Also, he worked with Alireza Eftekhari to let him combine his vocal with the pure magic of his music and create masterpieces that never gets old.
You can listen to Jalal Zolfonoun’s music to hear delightful music.
The master of classical Persian music, Shahrdad Rohani, is a name to remember if you are looking to listen to something amazing. He was born in 1954 in a musician family, and he got to the national music school of Iran to learn music academically. As an Iranian musician, Shahrdad Rohani has many achievements throughout his career, but one of the most important ones is composing and leading Yanni’s concert in 1993. Yanni Live at the Acropolis became one of the most viewed programs of all time. He won different awards for the amazing music he produced, such as Thailand’s Pikanes Award, and people enjoyed his music.
If you want to listen to his music, you just need to click on this link.
If you have ever listened to the sound of Ney, you know how sorrowful and elegant it is. Hasan Kasaei is one of the best Iranian musicians who was the master of Ney and can actually make your heart melt by the music that he had produced. He was born in 1928 in Isfahan and learned music at the age of 12. His professional career started at an early age and led to memorable collaborations with international artists. He played his music in many countries in the world, such as England and France, to let everyone hear Persian music. His passion and interest toward human beings and the people around him inspired Kasaei to create an amazing track called “Salam Alaikum.” It simply means “hello” and is inspired by local’s routine lives. You can listen to the song here.
Playing Kamancheh, violin, and Ghaychak, an Iranian instrument similar to the violin, Ardeshir Kamkar is one of the best Iranian musicians. He is a member of the Kamkar group, a well-known Persian music group that brought many glories for Iran by playing in different countries and in the Nobel Price ceremony in Norway.
Ardeshir Kamkar produced many music pieces for lots of great Iranian singers such as Mohammad Reza Shajarian, Shahram Nazeri, and Iraj Bastami. Also, he is an award winner for his album at the Fajr festival of music. His remarkable career still continues to let everyone hear his magic of music more.
Born in 1955, Parviz Meshkatian was one of the greatest Iranian musicians out there. He was born in Neishabour, which is known for its artistic atmosphere. As a master of Santoor, Meshkatian is the one who junior santoor players look up to. He is also Shajarian’s son in law which links him to Persian music even more.
One of Meshkatian’s bright points is collaborating with Houshang Ebtehaj or Sayeh on the radio. Then, he started producing some unforgettable tracks for Shahram Nazeri, Mohammad Reza Shajarian, and Hosein Alizadeh. His contribution to Persian art and music was so outstanding that many Iranian artists like Bahram Beyzaei wrote poems for him after his death to show their respect.
You can watch a part of his wonderful performance here and enjoy it.
Mohammad Reza Lotfi
One of the best Tar and Setar players in Persian music history is Mohammad Reza Lotfi. He was born in 1943 and dedicated his whole life to music by writing, composing, and teaching music. His amazing musical career started early, and he established his own band. Later on, he started working in radio, which was a big deal, and because of the complications for Persian musicians after the revolution of Iran, he immigrated to Paris. After a while, around 2007, he could finally go back to Iran.
The music that he produced during his career is extraordinary. He worked with so many talented Iranian musicians like Marziyeh, Mohammad Reza Shajarian, and Shahram Nazeri. He also produced the song for a famous Iranian film called Haji Washington, directed by Ali Hatami.
You can listen to his setar playing here and allow the delicacy of Persian music to melt your heart right away.
As a member of the Kamkar group, Maryam Ebrahimpour can be one of the best Persian musicians who inspired many Iranian women to learn music. She was born in 1958 in Tehran from a musician family, which led her to start learning music very early. Maryam Ebrahimpour chose the violin as her main instrument and mastered it quickly. She also learned singing from one of the best vocal coaches in Iran, Behjat Ghassari, and Performed her art internationally.
If you are are Game of Thrones fan, you can’t forget its mind-blowing music. Ramin Djawadi is the creator of those memorable, terrific, and magnificent music pieces that made watching GOT 10 times more enjoyable. He was born in 1975 in Germany to an Iranian father and a German mom. Besides producing and composing music for GOT, he worked in other amazing movies such as Iron Man, Person of Interest, Pacific Rim and Also, West World. He was active in the gaming industry and produced music for Gears of War 5. He is also a three-time Grammy Award nominee because of the masterpieces that he has created.
It is time to listen to a part of his music.
As a magnificent Persian composer and violin player, Parviz Yahaghi truly deserves to be on the top Iranian musicians’ list. His distribution to Persian music is so great that many of the most famous Iranian singers owe a part of their success to his talent. He introduced Mahasti and created amazing tracks for Homeyra, his wife.
His music was so new and mesmerizing that it inspired many people to follow his footsteps and produce music.
If you want to listen to one of the most famous songs that he produced, you can click here.
The winner of the Gibson Award for Best Female Classical Guitarist, Lilly Afshar is a well-known artist among people who are into guitar playing. When Lilly was a child, watching guitar players enchanted her and made her learn this instrument, then, her long list of glory started. She studied music and received many awards, such as Grand Prize in the Aspen Music Festival Guitar Competition, during her career as a female classic guitar player.
It is time to let her guitar playing enchant you, so you can watch her perform here.
As a Persian composer, Ali-Naqi Vaziri made a name for himself in the history of Persian music. He was born in 1886 in a well-known family and learned how to play Tar at an early age. He created masterpieces in music and taught so many people. But, his contribution to music is more than that.
Ali-Naqi Vaziri is the one who transcribed Persian Radif. By this, he allowed so many people to learn music easier. He also established a music school in Tehran and revolutionized this art.
Mahdyar Aghajani is one of the youngest Iranian musicians who connected to Iranian youth by his talent and music. Many younger Iranians know him for being the best Persian electronic and hip-hop composer.
Mahdyar Aghajani was born in 1989 and started music by learning Santoor and Ghanoun. Later on, he combined traditional Persian music with hip-hop and electric to create some of the best Persian underground songs of all time. By collaborating with Hichkas, a famous Iranian rapper, he produced some fantastic and memorable tracks.
He also collaborated with Snoop Dogg to make his name known in the international market. You can listen to, Pacewon & Mr. Green, created by Mahdyar Aghajani ft Snoop Dogg here.
The Iranian musician and composer Fouzieh Majd had quite an impact on Persian music’s history. Fouzieh was born in Berlin and went to a music school to start her academic journey to learn music. Then, she traveled to Iran to continue her music study. Meanwhile, she used to write critics of national newspapers using a pen name.
Being a great student, she used a scholarship to finish her studies at Sorbon university in France. She collaborated with many great folk artists such as Saeed Hormozy and Usef Foroutan. Her research in folk music revived this part of Persian culture, which makes her even more inspiring.
The Persian composer, setar, and violin player, Abolhassan Saba is one of the greatest Iranian musicians. He showed extraordinary talent in music from an early age and became one of the top students during his educational life.
His journey to learn music never ended, and he went to learn music from Ali-Naqi Vaziri, who was a master of music in his time. Later on, Saba produced many wonderful pieces of music and devoted his life teaching what he had learned to music enthusiasts. Gholam Hosein Banan, who is a great Persian vocalist, was one of his many students.
You can listen to Saba’s music here.
Three times Grammy award-nominee, Hosein Alizadeh is an Iranian musician, composer, and setar player. His contribution to Persian music was so outstanding that he is known as one of the best Persian musicians. Alizadeh was born in 1961 in Tehran and studied music academically. He continued his music career by creating amazing tracks for famous Iranian musicians as well as film scores.
The music that he produced for the Delshodegan movie is a masterpiece that links you to another world and speaks to your soul. His Sari-Galin track is also one of the best pieces that he ever recomposed from a well-known Folk song that you can watch and hear now.
If you look for the history of Persian music, you will encounter Barbad’s name for sure. Barbad or Barbod was a great musician in the court of the Sassanid empire. Some historians believe that he was born in Jahrom, which is a city near Shiraz, and then went to Khosrow Parviz’s court to play for him. Ferdowsi, the great Persian poet, mentioned Barbad’s name in Shahname and said that he was imprisoned when the king got killed, and Barbad got depressed, cut his fingers, and killed himself.
Another amazing Iranian musician from the Rohani family is Anoushiravan, who was a talented composer and pianist. His father was Anoushiravan’s first teacher. Then he went to a national music school to learn this art from Javad Khaleghi and other great musicians. He performed on the radio at the age of 7 and created more than 250 songs during his musical career.
Soltan’e Ghalbha and Gol-e Sang are two of the most famous works of Anoushiravan, which are widely known.
Besides working with Iranian artists, Anoushiravan Rohani worked at Czech Symphony Orchestra in Prague to expand his career to the international level.
The great Persian Taar player Jalil Shahnaz is a remarkable Iranian musician of classical music. His family members were his first teachers in music and encouraged him to continue his dreams. It was not that long that he could be a part of Golha Show, which is still a well-known music show in Iran.
Jalil Shahnaz performed with many wonderful Iranian artists and composed music for them. Because of his great works and value in Persian music, Mohammad Reza Shajarian named his group, Shahnaz, to honor his name.
You can listen to his song here and witness the great sound that he has created.
The great violinist and Iranian composer Homayoun Khorram is one of the first people that come to mind when you talk about Persian music. His whole life and destiny were linked to music from the moment that her mother named him Homayoun, which is the name of an Iranian mode.
Homayoun Khorram learned music in Saba’s music school and got familiar with Persian Radifs.
He produced many unique and memorable songs for famous Iranian singers such as Hayedeh, Shajarian, and Marziyeh. He collaborated with Alireza Ghorbani, a recent Persian singer, and created Rosvayeh Zamaneh album, which became one of the best seller music albums.
Knowing Iranian musicians and listening to his works is a simple and pleasant step to get familiar with Persian culture. Let us know if you are a fan of Persian music, and you have a favorite song.