Persian Classical Music - The Safavid period
Antonio Di Tommaso
The advent of the Safavid kingdom marked a new period of splendor for court musical life in the cities of Iran. Already with Shah Esmail I (1502-1524) the city of Tabriz became a rich musical center: this sovereign held in high esteem the music of the Ashìq, or Azerbaijani bards, and delighted himself in writing verses on mystical love and in playing the long neck lute SÀZ or QOPÙZ. It was also in this period that Persian musical practice decisively influenced the younger music of the Turkish-Ottoman courts, which hosted numerous Persian musicians and singers in the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries.
During the reign of Shah Abbàs I (1587-1528), at the court of the new capital Isfahan, the musical and artistic life probably reached the highest level, as well documented by the numerous miniature and artistic representations representing various aspects of musical life. There were four groups of musicians at the court: women, men, Armenians and Georgians, plus some groups of eunuchs, as was customary in the European courts of the same period. The most important composers that history remembers were Shah Moràd, Mohammad Qazvini, Aqà Mo'men and the Georgian Amir Khàn Gorji. In this period a flourishing production of musical treatises also resumed, but dedicated to a purely descriptive activity of the practice, or to a symbolic and cosmological speculation; there is no longer any trace of the analytical attitude that characterized the first great theorists and the systematic school. In discussing musical practice and interpretation, these treatises suggested the coherent concatenation of pieces or modal entities, in such a way as to form suites, in which one began and ended with the same musical mode, just as in the practice of dastgah. -ha, which will gradually form from the beginning of the XNUMXth century to culminate in the creation of the radif by the masters of the Qajar court.