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Persian Trilogy
Behzad
Behzad

 
      Seven Passages                   
 Seyavash                     
Seemorgh


 Persian Trilogy

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Learn more about each piece:

Seven Passages 

Seemorgh

The Blood of Seyavash

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Persian Trilogy
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Audio Samples:  
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Seven Passages 

Seemorgh

I.    The Mountain 
II.    The Moonlight
III.    The Sunrise

The Blood of Seyavash

I.    The Young Prince and Heir
II.    Seduction by Betrayal
III.    Trial by Fire
IV.    Tormented Loyalties
V.    Seeds of Envy
VI.    Idyllic Love
VII.    Prophecy Fulfilled

Prologue

Persian Trilogy is a collection of three orchestral works that were inspired by stories of Shahnameh, the great Persian epic poem written by Ferdowsi (c. 940-c.1020). My artistic desire was to express these dramatic and epic stories in a musical setting, using the color palette and power of the modern symphony orchestra. The urge to compose these works was also fueled by my early fascination with Persian legends and mythology, since I grew up in Tehran.

    When I was 10 years old, my mother won a contest in Tehran. The prize was a copy of Shahnameh (the Book of Kings). It was a 9x14 inch volume, 640 pages long, and sported a magnificent picture of its main hero, Rostam, in battle with the White Demon on the cover. I would soon learn that that cover was in fact a depiction of the dramatic story entitled Seven Trials of Rostam. My first look at the dramatic and bloody scene sent chills down my spine. Seeing the mighty Rostam with his wise and determined face, overcoming the hideous White Demon, had me transfixed, and captured my imagination forever.

    Soon after seeing this book, I began to read a simplified version of Shahnameh for youngsters (the original poem is 60, 000 verses long). I was particularly fascinated by the story of Seemorgh (Phoenix). As a child in Tehran, I was very impressed with Mount Alborz (18,386 ft), the mountain in which Seemorgh supposedly lived. I used to gaze at the mountain, thinking that she actually lived there. Watching the mountain during sunrise and sunset with its white peak full of snow was truly fascinating. In writing the third movement (sunrise) of Seemorgh, I felt as if I were still under the spell of those images.

    Another strong impression came from my summer trips to Taleghan, a chain of villages on Mount Alborz. I always found the nights in Taleghan to be breathtaking. With its countless stars shining brilliantly, the sky at night looked spectacular. I repeatedly heard stories about genies and fairies that would come down in hordes from surrounding hills, hand in hand, in white dresses, to celebrate their nightly rituals. I was reminded often that one could only see the fairies after midnight, and only if one believed in them. There were times when I actually thought that I had seen them, but in retrospect it seems to have been a figment of my imagination. In writing the slow movement (the Moonlight) of Seemorgh, those powerful images were a constant source of inspiration.

    The recording of Persian Trilogy is the culmination of a four-decade-long personal journey that began with my early exposure to Shahnameh. These works were composed in an eleven-year period between 1989 and 2000. I wrote many other pieces during this time; however, the Trilogy retains a special place in my heart. These legends are a reflection of the essence of human characters; therefore, they belong to all human beings.    Behzad Ranjbaran                            

Shahnameh

The Shahnameh is the national epic of Persia / Iran. It was written down by the poet Ferdowsi at the end of the 10th and the beginning of the 11th centuries CE, but it incorporates material from long before this period, as it recounts the mythological and legendary history of the country from the creation of the world up to Persia’s conquest by Arab conquerors, who brought with them the new religion of Islam, in the 7th century CE. Its scope is thus immense: the oldest stories are extremely ancient, and may well go back to the stone age (the weapons chiefly associated with the poem’s chief hero, Rostam, are pre-metallic – the lariat and the mace), and the last stories in the poem deal, in a romanticized fashion, with the actual historical events that led up to the Arab conquest.

    This great and stirring poem is not only the chief means by which the extraordinary pre-Islamic literary heritage of Persia has been passed on to us; it is also the key work of Persian cultural self-definition, and is therefore arguably the single most important Persian poem. Certainly it has had immense influence on subsequent Persian culture, and this is so both at the popular and sophisticated levels. It has provided abundant stories and characters incorporated by later writers into their work, as well as feeding a rich tradition of oral folk narrative. It also occupies a central place in Persian art history, again at both the sophisticated and popular levels; the medieval royal manuscripts of the Shahnameh are among the most beautiful ever produced, and folk paintings of heroes and incidents from the Shahnameh constituted a widespread genre of folk art in the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The importance and popularity of Persian literary culture beyond Iran’s borders, especially in the sub-continent (Persian was the court language of the Moghul emperors) and in Turkey, has meant that the Shahnameh’s heroes and legends were gradually diffused throughout the Asian Islamic world, and came to occupy an almost equally significant place in these cultures as in Iran itself.

    Rostam, the central hero of the poem’s legendary section, figures directly or indirectly in the three pieces recorded here. The Seven Passages refers to his heroic labors while rescuing his king, Kavus, from imprisonment; the Seemorgh is an evocation of the fabulous bird who brings up Rostam’s father, Zaal; and Rostam is both a surrogate father for Prince Seyavash, whom he brings up in his own land of Sistan, and his companion and advisor during his wars against Turan (i.e. Central Asia, north of the Oxus River).           Dick Davis

 

 






 
Behzad
Behzad


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