'Ahmad ‘Ibadi


‘Ibadi, Ahmad (1901-1993). Setar instrumentalist and the only soloist of this instrument in all the programmes of Gulha-yi Rangarang, Barg-i Sabz, and Gulha-yi Javidan. He was born into an ancient family of musicians attached to the Qajar court. His father was one of the most eminent musicians of the nineteenth century and the first compiler of the entire repertoire of Persian classical music. He studied music with his sisters and won recognition as an outstanding musician from 1919 onwards. Despite his recognition amongst the company of musicians during the years 1919-1940, his broader public fame only commenced with the establishment of the Iranian National Radio in 1940. As a musician who initiated a novel performance style for the setar, he performed on Radio Tehran during the years 1940-1978, during which time many a recording was made of his artistic performances on the setar. However, his real brilliance was achieved during his performances on the Gulha-yi Javidan, Gulha-yi Rangarang, and Barg-i Sabz (1956-1973) programmes. He was one of the first instrumentalists to recognize the decisive importance of technical equipment in radio recording and broadcasting and the determining role played by the positioning of microphones in presenting the delicate, sensitive sound of setar. He enjoyed the best physical and mental conditions during these years and thereby secured his position as the most eminent setar soloist and the most outstanding creative musician in Iran. Nearly all the programmes in which he participated include his solo performances or feature his accompaniment of other instrumentalists and vocalists. Very few recordings were ever made of his orchestral accompaniments. His performance style has been compared to the creative talents of eminent masters like Murtaza Mahjubi, Lutfu’llah Majd, Jalil Shahnaz, Reza Varzandih, and Hasan Kasa’i, all of whom have praised his exquisitely beautiful and unique performance style. The most significant aspects of this style include the vivid but varied resonance of his instrumental delivery, the variation in his tuning, his creation of pleasing sentences to complement vocal (avaz) and rhythmic pieces, and finally, the unequalled poetical feeling that is still specific to what might be called an ‘Ibadi Style. Numerous albums of his solo performances have been released.