Maestro Abdollah Davami

Maestro Abdollah Davami (1891--1981), the Founder of Persian Vocal Radif Repertoire

by Peyman Nasehpour

Ostad Nasrollah Nasehpour (Vocal Music Workshop)

Ostad Nasrollah Nasehpour

Ostad Abdollah Davami

Ostad Davami

The Young Nasehpour beside his professor, Abdollah Davami

Nasehpour and Davami

The founder of the Persian vocal radif repertoire and the great master of tasnif and tonbak, Ostad Abdollah Davami was born in the village "Ta" of Tafresh city, Iran, in 1891. In traditional schools in Tafresh, he learned elementary knowledge such as how to write and read the Persian language. When he was a child, with his family, he moved to Tehran and continued his studies. In Tarbiat School, he was a classmate of Rokn al-Din Khan Mokhtari (1887--1970). After finishing his studies, he worked in Tehran's Post Office for a while, and then he worked in Tehran's Finance Office till he retired.

One day, he had gone to a gathering in the house of Majd-al-Mamalek and he sang for the attendees, among them Ali Khan Nayeb-al-Saltaneh who was a wonderful Iranian singer. In that gathering, Ali Khan encouraged him to learn Persian vocal music, and he was the young Davami's first teacher. Davami learned the radif, in particular, Dastgah-e Rastpanjgah from Ali Khan. According to Davami, Ali Khan Nayeb-al-Saltaneh was the only vocalist who knew how to sing the Rastpanjgah in those years.

In order to broaden his knowledge in Radif, Davami learned different points from other great masters of his time such as Hossein Khan (master of kamancheh), Darvish Khan (master of the tar and setar and composer), Malek-al-Zakerin (master vocalist), and Mirza Abdollah (master of the setar). He also attended the class of Mirza Hossein Gholi (1851--1915) for learning Mirza's radif.

For learning the tasnif and the tonbak, Davami was a student of important masters of his time such as Sama' Hozur (master of santoor, tasnif, and tonbak), and Sama' Hozur's sister, "Zivar Sultan" entitled to "Andalib al-Saltaneh" (master of santoor and vocal music), Haji Khan, and Agha Jan.

In March 1914, Abdollah Khan Davami, Abolhasan Khan Eqbal Azar (master vocalist), Darvish Khan (master of tar), Seyed Hossein Taherzadeh (master vocalist), and Bagher Khan Rameshgar (master of kamancheh) went to Tbilisi to record Persian music on gramophone disks. They also had a couple of concerts in Tbilisi, the first one performed on Thursday, March 26, 1914.

When Rokn al-Din Khan Mokhtari was freed, "the Center for Fine Arts" decided to open a school for music and wanted Mokhtari to be the manager of the school. After the establishment of the school, Mokhtari wanted Davami to teach vocal music there. Except him, Ostad Abolhassan Khan Saba and Ostad Ali Akbar Khan Shahnazi were teaching at the school. In this school, some students were introduced to him to learn vocal music from him. The names of his students in that school were Mr. Mahmoud Karimi, Ms. Fakhereh Saba, Ms. Marziyeh, Ms. Khatereh Parvaneh, Ms. Elaheh, and Ms. Homa. Among them, only Mr. Karimi and Ms. Marziyeh were more interested in the class, as Davami explained once.

Here we need to explain that older masters of music including Ostad Davami had three levels for Radif, Elementary Radif Course, Intermediate Radif Course, and Master Radif Course and unfortunately, none of those students reached the level of Master Radif Course. On the other hand, since it was not possible for Davami to continue teaching at this school anymore, he suggested inviting Mr. Karimi to teach instead of him at the school, and he accepted some students to teach the Radif in his own house privately. Nasrollah Nasehpour was one of the rare students of Davami who learned the master course, according to a certificate that Davami gave to Nasehpour.

Many famous master musicians including Nour Ali Khan Boroumand and Haj Agha Mohammad Mojarrad Irani learned some of the tasnifs from him, as Davami said once.

He passed away in Tehran, on Saturday, January 10, 1981.

Listen to a beautiful song performed by Davami


The life of Maestro Nasrollah Nasehpour and his contributions to Persian and Azerbaijani music

زندگی‌نامه استاد عبدالله دوامی