Asghar Bahari

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Known also as Ali Asghar Bahari, this artist is one of the great Iranian classical musicians. He performs on the kamanche, an instrument which is played with a bow, and is also the composer of a repertoire…
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Artist Biography by

Known also as Ali Asghar Bahari, this artist is one of the great Iranian classical musicians. He performs on the kamanche, an instrument which is played with a bow, and is also the composer of a repertoire of pieces for kamanche. He studied classical Iranian music at Tehran University and the Iranian Music Institute with teachers such as his grandfather, Mir Ali Khan, and Reza Khan, Akbar Khan, his uncle Hassan Khan, Roknodin Khan, and violinist Reza Mahjoubi, whose instrument is related to his in many ways. The music is based on modal systems that date back to ancient Greece, and in the Persian form is called dastgah, utilizing different modes or dastgah systems with names such as Segah, Shour, Afshari, Bayat-e Tork, Esfahan, and Abouata. Performing from these dastgah requires not only a mastery of the modal scale, but the ability to musically extrapolate meaningful improvisations from the mode's basis. When ^Bahari began playing over Radio Iran in 1952, the kamanche had generally fallen out of public favor, and it was in many ways his extensive concertizing and broadcasting that created a renewal in the instrument's status in classical Iranian music. His invitation to go to France to record for national radio in 1966 was an appropriate tribute to the virtuoso talents he had developed by the time he was in his '60s. These recordings were released as part of the brilliant Philips series, Modal Music and Improvisation. Prior to his death in the mid-'90s, he was able to benefit in the explosion of interest in world music, particularly through an extensive series of issues on the Caltex label. There are four volumes alone of his solo playing, all of them of superior quality. Another of his projects during his twilights years was membership in the aptly named the Masters Band. This was an aggregation of senior players in the Iranian classical music genre that included Jalil Shahnaz, Faramarz Payvar, Mohammad Mousavi, Parviz Meshkatian, Naser Farhangfar, and vocalist Mohammad Reza Shajarian. Payvar has been a frequent companion of Bahari's on recordings. As is expected among master musicians from this tradition, Bahari was an esteemed teacher of his instrument who taught young players such as Ali Akbar Shekarchi, Davoud Ganjei, and Mohammad Moghadasi. He passed along musical traditions that date back many centuries to one of the historical originators of kamanche repertoire, Baghar Khan Kamancheh. Maybe one day, Bahari will have an instrument named after him.