Hossein Golgolab

Hossein Golgolab was born in 1895 to a family of music connoisseurs in Tehran, and received his first education in music at an early age from his father. He later joined the classes of the distinguished masters of Persian music, Aqa Hossein-Qoli and Darvish Khan, where he learned to play the tar and setar. He was a botanist, musician, poet, and scholar. Golgolab was one of the first students of the first music school in Persia, founded by Alinaqi Vaziri. Golgolab was particularly talented at composing songs, since he was both a poet and an accomplished musician familiar with standard music notation. This so impressed Vaziri that he invariably asked Golgolab to write lyrics for his compositions. Golgolab’s best-known poem is Ey Iran (O, Iran) which was set as a patriotic hymn in 1944 by Rouhollah Khaleghi and has virtually become the national anthem of Persia. Golgolab also composed lyrics for other Khaleghi compositions, such as Sorud-e Azarbaijan and Naqme-ye Esfahan.

Golgolab continued his higher education at the Elmiye School and the Darolfonun (Tehran's Polytechnic School). He also enrolled at the newly established School of Law and graduated with a degree in law and political science in 1922. Golgolab began teaching natural sciences in 1919, and by 1928, when he was tenured at the School of Medicine, he had published twelve books in this field. After the School of Medicine became the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Tehran, Golgolab was awarded a doctoral degree in 1935 and appointed professor of botanical biology in 1940. He retired in 1966 and a year later became the first professor emeritus of the University of Tehran.

Golgolab became a permanent member of the Farhangestan (Academy of Persian Language) in 1935 and the director of its secretariat a year later. In this position he played a major role in the coining of scientific terminology in Persian for the natural sciences, particularly botany. Many of the terms he devised are now part of the established scientific vocabulary in Persian.

He died at age eighty-eight on March 12, 1984, in Tehran.