Husayn Tehrani

Husayn Tehrani (1911-1973

The greatest tumbak instrumentalist in the twentieth century Persian music, the founder of the foremost classical tumbak playing school in Iran, and one of the earliest performers of the Gulha programmes during the years 1955-1968. Despite facing opposition from his family and suffering from the prejudices found in Persian society during the early twentieth century against tumbak playing and players, he resolved to seriously learn and practice the instrument. For a short period he studied with old masters of the late Qajar period such as Riza Ravanbakhsh and Husayn Isma‘ilzada, until at last he found his true master in Abu’l-Hasan Saba, who fostered his extraordinary talent and creative genius until he achieved mastery of the instrument. He began his performances on Radio Tehran and the Gulha from 1940 and 1955 respectively. There are many recordings of his brilliant performances, in some of which he presents his skills as a tumbak soloist and in others where he accompanies other instrumentalists and vocalists and performs in different orchestras. All later tumbak instrumentalists have been directly or indirectly influenced by his style. The sound of his tumbak performance in the great orchestra of the Gulha is like the throbbing of the heart of an organism, virtually serving as the metronome of the orchestra. Listening to his recorded performances reminds an audience today of his elevated position in the field of his art, which recalls the position of Jascha Heifetz (1901-1987) in classical violin performance in the West. A large number of his performances have been released and his eminent student, Muhammad Isma‘ili, who like his master performed in the Gulha, teaches his master’s sophisticated techniques and material. Tehrani traveled abroad a number of times during the years 1955-1973, and his performances appealed to outstanding Western music connoisseurs. A 33 gramophone record (Tehran: Ahang-i Ruz 1970) presents his skills in solo performance. His book titled Amuzish-i Tumbak (Tumbak Instruction, accompanied by a number of master musicians – Tehran: Farhang va Hunar 1970) and many CD albums (accompanied by Persian eminent instrumentalists and vocalists) have been released. He is regarded as being the throbbing heart of rhythm in Persian music.