Ostad Nasser Farhangfar

Ostad Nasser Farhangfar

In Remembrance of Maestro Nasser Farhangfar

The great master of tonbak

and Persian rhythmic music

by Peyman Nasehpour

A calligraphy art piece written by Ostad Nasser Farhangfar

Ostad Nasser Farhangfar was a poet and a calligrapher and above all a great tonbak artist. One of the most famous verses he composed can be translated to:

We wrote at the Gate of the Existence / The sorrow of not having camaraderie killed us!

As a genius tonbak master, he added the most favorite style of tonbak playing after the father of modern tonbak, Ostad Hossein Tehrani. Many artists have praised his style. Some of his compositions are more attractive than the melodies, which his tonbak accompanies. Therefore, you concentrate on the tonbak involuntarily. Here are some lines in remembrance of this great master of Persian music:

He started learning tonbak at the early age of nine. In 1972, he started creating his style and promoting it in Iran. Around the same time, the great master of tonbak, Ostad Hossein Tehrani was sick and had recorded his last performance: rhythms of zourkhaneh. The father of modern tonbak, Ostad Tehrani passed away in 1974.

In 1973, Ostad Farhangfar had become world famous and he had some concerts in Belgium. Then in 1975, he moved to New York, because he had been invited by Robert Wilson in order to collaborate with his theater group. He returned to Tehran the same year and started collaborating with Shayda and Aref Ensembles. This collaboration continued until 1984. In 1984, Ostad Mohammad Reza Lotfi (tar player) and Ostad Farhagfar had a private recording; believed by many of his students to be the best musical performance of Ostad Farhangfar in his lifetime.

During these 12 years (1972-1984), he created a new style of tonbak performance and attracted many followers. After 1984, he preferred to stay at home and teach his students of tonbak. One day I asked him: "Ostad, why have you stayed at home and why don't you perform any concerts anymore?" He replied: "My job is done! Now is the time for the young musicians to flourish." He was young to say farewell to the world of musical performance. Then he recited the following verses of Hafiz:

"To him that hath chosen solitude, of the spectacle is what need?

When the street of the Beloved is, of the desert is what need?

Hafiz! End thy verse: for skill itself becometh clear:

Disputation and contention with the pretender is what need?"

Here I should mention that in Persian we call a person who has chosen solitude, "Khalvat-Gozideh" which is the title of an album, produced in 1991. In this unique album, he performed one of his most remarkable tonbak solos.

Some days before his demise, he phoned my father and said: "I have composed some poems. Do you like me to recite them for you?" After his call, my father said to me: "He has composed very nice poems. Maybe someday I can sing them."

He passed away on August 14th, 1997, while he was only 50. May he always be brought happily to mind!

Date of Publication: July 29th, 2001.

Ostad Nasser Farhangfar with his Tonbak

Maestro Nasser Farhangfar with his famous tonbak (courtesy of his son, Arash)

A short biography of Ostad Nasser Farhagfar by Peyman Nasehpour

A recognized master of the art of tonbak playing, the late Ostad Nasser Farhangfar (1947-1997), was born in Rey city of Tehran, Iran.

His father was a tar player and his uncle was a tonbak player. His grandfather, Mirza Mehdi-ye-Khoshnevis, was a famous calligrapher of the Ghajar era. He started playing the tonbak at the early age of nine. At this time, he regularly went to the local traditional zourkhaneh, not to watch the athletes, but to listen to the rhythms of the tonbak used in training the athletes.

Later, he studied tonbak with Mohammad Torkaman, Ostad Hossein Tehrani, Ostad Dr. Nour Ali Khan Boroumand, and Ostad Abdollah Davami.

His talent and knowledge in the art of tonbak playing with his background of zourkhaneh's tonbak made him a unique tonbak player of his time. His followers have called his style Sabk-e-Ostad Farhangfar (translated in English as the style of maestro Farhangfar).

He performed widely and trained many students. His masterpiece in the art of tonbak playing is his accompaniment of the tar of Ostad M.R. Lotfi in Dastgah-e-Segah in a private cassette later released with the title "Parvaz-e-Eshgh", which was distributed for his remembrance by Ava-ye-Shayda Company in Tehran run by M.R. Lotfi.

He was familiar with the radif repertoire of Persian art music. He was also a poet and a calligrapher.

This biography and note on Ostad Farhangfar were first published on the Tombak Network website web-mastered by Hormoz Dilmaghani.