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Seven Passages
Behzad
Behzad

 

 

                Study Score Publication
 

Seven Passages

 

















































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Instrumentation: 3(Picc.)-3(E.H.)-3(B.Cl.)-3(Cbsn.); 4-3-3(B.Tbn.)-1; Timp., Perc., Cel., Hp., Str.
Duration: 15 minutes
Commission Information: Long Beach Symphony with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Premiere Information: Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, JoAnn Falletta, conductor; Long Beach, CA; March 25, 2000
Additional Information: part of Persian Trilogy
Recording: recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra on a Delos CD titled "Persian Trilogy", conducted by JoAnn Falletta
Score and parts: Available from Presser Rental Library
Study Score: Published by Presser 416-41305 (see above picture)
Score online: Available for Perusal Only at ISSUU.COM  

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Seven Passages

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Learn more about the Persian Trilogy

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About Seven Passages:

 

Seven Passages, the final work composed in my Persian Trilogy, draws its inspiration from an episode in the Shahnameh (Book of Kings) titled “The Seven Trials of Rostam.” All three orchestral works in the Persian Trilogy were inspired by the stories of the Shahnameh, the national epic poem of Persia/Iran. The Shahnameh was written by the poet Ferdowsi (c. 940-1020), recounting the mythological and legendary history of the country from the creation of the world up to Persia’s conquest by the Arab conquerors, who brought with them the new religion of Islam in the 7th Century. The main hero of the poem is Rostam, who spends much of his life fighting on behalf of the Persian kings, often saving them from situations in which their own pride and foolishness have entangled them.

 

When I was 10 years old, my mother won a contest in Tehran, Iran, for which the prize was a copy of the Shahnameh (Book of Kings). It was a 9"x14" 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 the cover was in fact a depiction of an episode from “The 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.


Another strong influence in composing Seven Passages came from my very early years during the summer trips to Taleghan, a chain of villages on Mount Alborz, near Tehran. 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 section of Seven Passages, those powerful images were a constant source of inspiration.


Seven Passages refers to seven epic trials Rostam endures while traveling to rescue his king, Kavus, and countrymen from an enemy territory where they have been imprisoned. In the first encounter, Rostam’s horse, Rakhsh, saves him from a lion; in the second, he traverses a waterless desert; in the third, his horse again saves him, this time from a dragon; in the fourth, he outwits a sorceress; in the fifth, he fights against an enemy hero called Ulad; in the sixth, he defeats a demon called Arzhang; and in the seventh, he vanquishes the most terrifying of his adversaries, the White Demon.


In writing Seven Passages, I was inspired by the symbolism evident in the story which depicts a heroic struggle with all of its pain, tragedy, self doubt, joy, and ultimate victory. Throughout these trials, Rostam emerges triumphant from his encounters with wild beasts, witches, demons, and dragons while performing one act of heroism after another. However, I have come to realize that in real life, courageous acts are not limited only to heroes. Unsung heroes perform countless acts of courage and struggle daily.


The music reflects my general impression of the story rather than following it faithfully. It is one continuous piece that is organized tightly around a three-note-motif (B, A#, B), transforming in the heroic finale to its inversion (B, C, B). This three-note motif functions as a unifying element weaving a tight organization throughout the many contrasting sections. There are references to other pieces of the Persian Trilogy. For example in the slow introduction, the opening of The Blood of Seyavash is quoted briefly; the second movement of Seemorg his visited vividly; and furthermore, the three-note motif is directly derived from the first three notes of the opening theme of Seemorgh.

Seven Passages was composed during 1999-2000 on a commission from the Long Beach Symphony, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts. It was premiered by the Long Beach Symphony in March 25, 2000, JoAnn Falletta, conductor. The London Symphony Orchestra recorded Seven Passages on a CD titled Persian Trilogy, conducted by JoAnn Falletta.


Reviews:

"…brilliantly and colorfully orchestrated…engaging…"

-Susan L. Peña, Reading Eagle

"Ranjbaran's mastery of orchestration is apparent in the delicious, delicate opening sonorities and in the full-throated declamations that follow as the hero conquers demon after demon… there is no denying the exciting thrust and sense of conquest that this music radiates."

-Herman Trotter, The Buffalo News

"All seven passages are telescoped into a colorful overture."

-Allen Gimbel, American Record Guide

"…roils and seethes and then drops stars from the heavens to drift, sparkling, to the earth.

The composer demonstrated that the dense structure of agitation, aggression, magic and humor that he offers up can be parsed to that three-note structure, which, in various contexts, can be heroic, mysterious or comic, as it were, establishing conventions for abstract thought."

-Anthony Bannon, The Chautauquan Daily

"Ranjbaran… created in Seven Passages a clear and ringing argument for the continued survival and growth of symphonic form. He clearly recognizes the power of the orchestra… and uses its power to create rich, languid colors and pulses of striking emotional energy. Ranjbaran plays the colors of the orchestra with an unconscious mastery: here the entire gathering of forces on stage are at his command, and he uses that power with grace and ease. The audience joined in at the end of the work with a standing ovation for the young composer."

-John Farrell, Press-Telegram

"…intensely colorful and imaginative throughout…"

-Gary Panetta, Peoria Journal Star

"Saluting unsung heroes in Seven Passages debut. Are heroes born or made? The latter, says composer Behzad Ranjbaran in his new Seven Passages… The heroic theme emerges in the course of the music. It doesn’t arrive fully formed, although it is adumbrated and appears in fragments as the work progresses from a fairy-tale gossamer beginning to its full-scale triumphant conclusion."

-Chris Pasles, Los Angeles Times


Past performances include:
- Long Beach Symphony, JoAnn Falletta, Conductor, California

- St. Louis Symphony, David Robertson, Conductor, Missouri

- London Symphony Orchestra, JoAnn Falletta, Conductor, London, England

- Philadelphia Orchestra, Alastair Willis, Conductor, Pennsylvania

- Buffalo Philharmonic, Robert Franz, Conductor, New York

- Toronto Symphony, JoAnn Falletta, Conductor, Canada

- Reading Philharmonic, Robert Franz, Conductor, Pennsylvania

- Empire State Youth Symphony, Helen Cha-Pyo, Conductor, New York

- North Carolina School of Arts, Matthew Troy, Conductor, Winston-Salem, N. Carolina

- Peoria Symphony, George Stelluto, Conductor, Peoria, Illinois

- Chautauqua Symphony, JoAnn Falletta, Conductor, New York

- Laredo Philharmonic, Brendan Townsend, Conductor, Laredo, Texas

- Colorado Music Festival, Michael Christie, Conductor, Boulder, Colorado.

- Qatar Philharmonic, Alastair Willis, Conductor, Doha, Qatar

- Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, Marin Alsop, Conductor, California

- DuPage Symphony Orchestra, Barbara Schubert, Conductor, Illinois

- Spokane Symphony Orchestra, Eckart Preu, Conductor, Washington

- Reading Orchestra, George Ogato, Conductor, Reading, Pennsylvania

- Anchorage Youth Symphony Orchestra, Tevy Robbins, Conductor, Alaska

- Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria, Pedro Halffter, Conductor, Canaria, Spain

- City Music Cleveland Chamber Orchestra, Avner Dorman, Conductor, Cleveland, Ohio

- The Cherubini Conservatory Symphony Orchestra, Paolo Ciardi, Conductor, Teatro della Pergola, Florence, Italy

- South Bend Symphony Orchestra, Alastair Willis, Conductor, Indiana







                                                                     



                                                                                                             

 


         
 
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