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Mohammad-Reza Shajarian, Iran’s greatest living maestro of Persian classical music

Mohammad-Reza Shajarian (born 23 September 1940, Mashhad, Razavi Khorasan, Iran) is an internationally and critically acclaimed Iranian classical singer, composer and Ostad (master) of Persian traditional music.

He has been called “Iran’s greatest living maestro of Persian classical music. Shajarian is also known for his skills in Persian calligraphy and humanitarian activities.

Shajarian was born in Mashhad, Iran, and started singing at the age of five, under the supervision of his father. At the age of twelve, he began studying the traditional classical repertoire known as the Radif. Shajarian started his singing career in 1959 at Radio Khorasan, rising to prominence in the 1960s with his distinct style of singing. His main teachers were Ahmad Ebadi, Esmaeil Mehrtash, Abdollah Davami, and Nour-Ali Boroumand. He also learned the vocal styles of singers from previous generations, including Reza Gholi Mirza Zelli, Fariborz Manouchehri, Ghamar Molouk Vaziri, Eghbal Azar, and Taj Isfahani.

He has cited legendary Iranian tar musician Jalil Shahnaz as highly influential to his development, indicating that he has often tried to mimic Shahnaz’s playing style in his singing.

Shajarian has collaborated with Parviz Meshkatian, Mohammad Reza Lotfi, Hossein Alizadeh, and Faramarz Payvar. He is recognized as the skilled singer in the challenging traditional Dastgah style. In 1999 UNESCO in France presented him with the Picasso Award and in 2006 with the UNESCO Mozart Medal.

In March 2016, Shajarian revealed that he has had kidney cancer for the past fifteen years. He appeared with shaved hair in his Nowrouz congratulation video, published on his YouTube account.

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