Husayn ‘Ali Mallah

Mallah, Husayn ‘Ali (1921-1992), instrumentalist and violin teacher, also acquainted with playing the setar, and one of the foremost authorities and scholars in the field of historical and aesthetic studies of classical Persian music. He studied music with Husayn Yahaqqi, Ahmad Furutan Rad, and Abu’l-Hasan Saba, but his main teacher was his maternal uncle and father-in-law ‘Alinaqi Vaziri. Born into an aristocratic and bureaucratic family, he began his music career in 1941 and soon made a name for himself as a violin player, then as a music teacher at the National Conservatory (Hunaristan-i Musiqi-yi Milli) under the directorship of Ruhu’llah Khaliqi (1919-1929). Mallah was also famed for his work as an instrumentalist in the orchestra of the National Music Association and in that of the Gulha. He was the author of many academic articles and served as a member of the music advisory councils of the Iranian National Radio. From 1977 down to the end of his life he devoted all his time to research and writing articles and books. 

Although he served as an instrumentalist on only three Gulha programs (Golha-yi rangarang 126, 110, 171), they clearly demonstrate his especially refined and poetic style in playing the violin. His skill as a composer was also used in Gulha-yi rangarang 477. On this programme, which was among the first series of the Golha-yi rangarang, he accompanied Javad Ma‘rufi, the famous piano player and improvised pieces in the form of a dialogue with the vocalist and other musicians in the mode (mayih) of Dashti. This particular recording is a specimen of the artistic milieu between Vaziri’s classical school and the romanticism that pervaded the Iranian musical environment from the 1950s onward. Mallah published a number of books which discuss the nexus between Persian music and poetry as well as wrote analytical studies on Iranian musical instruments and works on the relationship between prominent classical Persian poets (e.g. Hafiz and Manuchihri) and music. A number of his articles have appeared in print in English in the Encyclopaedia Iranica (ed. E. Yarshater), a complete collection in Persian of which (edited by his student, Sayyed ‘Ali Reza Mir-‘Alinaqi) is currently in press. The role played by Mallah as a director, supervisor and competent critic of the Gulha programmes was noteworthy.