Mohammad-Reza Shajarian (Persian: محمدرضا شجريان; Persian pronunciation: [mohæmːæd ɾeˈzɒː ʃædʒæɾiˈɒːn]) (23 September 1940) is an 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 recognised as 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.
Shajarian is the undisputed master of Persian traditional (classical) singing. He is regarded as a national treasure by both musicians and music lovers. His singing is technically flawless, powerful, and strongly emotional. In music of Iran, traditional singing is the most difficult art to master. Shajarian is the embodiment of the perfect singer and a major source of inspiration.
Born in 1940 in the city of Mash’had in northeastern Iran, Mohammad Reza Shajarian began singing spiritual songs at the age five under the supervision of his father. Only a few years later his precocious talent was to be renowned throughout the town of Mash’had. In spite of his religious upbringing, at the age of twelve he was familiarizing himself with the traditional song repertoire and the first piece he was to sing was the Gham-Angiz Goosheh of Dashti. He was also interested at the same time in popular music from Khorasan and the other regions of Iran.His focus at first was on the local folk music of his native province, Khorasan, but later at the age of twelve he studied the traditional repertoire, the Radif.