The Great Master of Tar, Ostad Ali Akbar Khan Shahnazi
By Dr. Peyman Nasehpour
A very great master of tar (Persian six-stringed long-necked lute), Ostad Ali Akbar Shahnazi was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1897.
His father, Mirza Hossein Gholi, the great master of tar named him Ali Akbar according to a very old tradition: the grandson should be named as his grandfather. His grandfather the Ali Akbar Khan of the Farahan village of the Arak city was a great master of tar. There is a sad story about Ali Akbar Farahani: One day after a quarrel with his neighbor he went to the roof to play with his tar named Ghalandar. Tomorrow of that night they found him died on the roof.
He started learning tar from his respected father at the age of 7. After five years he reached at the level that he was able to teach some of his father's students. At the age of 14 recorded two gramophone disks by playing tar in famous Persian melodies, Avaz-e-Afshari and Avaz-e-Bayat-e-Tork accompanying the great vocalist Jenab Damavandi.
At the age of 18, after the demise of his father, he was the responsible of his father's class and started teaching his father's students. He established the Shahnazi Music School in 1929. He recorded many pieces with the great vocalists of his time such as Eghbal Azar, Nakisa and so on. Also he has collaborated with other great master of his time such as Reza Mahjubi (violinist) and Hosain Tehrani (father of modern tonbak). Not only he taught his students his father's radif, but also he composed a very beautiful radif and called it radif-e-dore-ye-ali and taught it to his students as well.
He comes from a music family called in Persian Khandan-e-Honar that literally means art dynasty. His younger brother Abdolhossein was a very good tar player also. Their uncle Mirza Abdollah was a very great teacher of setar. Ali Akbar Khan's nephew the Gholam Hossein Khan was another great tar player.
He recorded his radif in 1977. He had recorded his father's radif in 1962. He passed away in 1986 at the age of 88.