Morteza Neydavoud

Morteza Neydavoud was born in 1900, during the reign of Mozaffareddin Shah of the Qajar dynasty. His father Bala Khan played the tonbak, and the sound of instruments played by the musicians of the time echoed in their music-loving Persian Jewish household. Neydavoud taught himself to play the tar at an early age. Recognizing his sonís talent in music, the elder Neydavoud apprenticed the seven-year-old to Ramazan Khan Zolfaqari who was a student of the great master of the tar, Aqa Mirza Hossein-Qoli. After two years, Ramazan Khan took Morteza to his master Aqa Mirza Hossein-Qoli.

 

In Hossein-Qoli's school, Neydavoud practiced the radif of the traditional music of Persia. After Hossein-Qoli's death, Neydavoud continued his musical education with his best student and successor, Darvish Khan. With Darvish Khan, Neydavoud completed the study of radif and proceeded to learn other musical forms, such as pishdaramad (similar to overtures in Western classical music), zarbi (rhythmic pieces), and tasnif (similar in spirit, if not in exact form, to lieder, art songs of the romantic period of Western classical music). Neydavoud became Darvish Khan's best student and, as it was customary in those days, was given the title ďCaliph" of the class.

 

Several years later, Neydavoud participated in concerts with his brothers, Mousa and Soleyman, and other notable musicians, such as Abolhassan Saba, Reza Mahjoubi, Morteza Mahjoubi, Arsalan Dargahi, , Reza Ravanbakhsh, and Qamarolmolouk Vaziri.

 

In addition to his concerts and recordings, Neydavoud established a school for music, which he named Darvish. In 1940 he was invited, along with a group of other well-known musicians, to join the staff of the Radio Iran. However, the bureaucratic administration of the Radio Iran made it impossible for Neydavoud to maintain a free and productive career in the organization. Moreover, the political and economical climate of the time led to a sharp decline in the production of records and live performances. As a result, Neydavoud left the Radio and became reclusive at the height of his creativity and technical mastery. He continued his involvement with music only through a small circle of close friends, acquaintances, and private students. Neydavoud returned to the radio some thirty years later, when he finally accepted its invitation to record his version of the radif of Persian traditional music. Within a period of about one-and-a-half years, he meticulously recorded the radif as he remembered receiving it from his masters, resulting in a body of almost 300 audiocassettes.


In 1977 Neydavoud's family immigrated to the United States and took the seventy-seven year old master with them. This separation from his birthplace and the environment in which he had grown up had an adverse effect on the old master's well being. He died in California in 1990, thousands of miles away from home.