“He has flown to meet his Beloved.” So the passing of the iconic musician Ustad Mohammad-Reza Shajarian was announced yesterday by Homayoun Shajarian, his son. I heard the news with great sadness.
The exquisite music of Shajarian that I heard as a boy left its mark on me. Young as I was, it gave me a deep experience of the transformative power of music.
Maestro Shajarian revived Persian traditional music and created a wave of love for this music not only throughout Iran but abroad. His mastery and unique interpretation of this sound attracted untold millions to experience the depth and beauty of this major world heritage.
And he inspired new generations to listen to the profound poetry of masters such as Jalal ad-Din al-Balkhi (Rumi) and Hafez through their poems in his songs. His unparalleled talent, his passion and devotion to the art made him a game-changer on the world stage—unique and exceptional.
It cannot be denied that a great towering light has been extinguished with his passing, but as we mourn his loss, we can take comfort in knowing that his incredible legacy lives on in his many students, themselves now great musicians, and particularly in the works of his son Homayoun. They blossomed under their guru, who encouraged each of them to find their own voice.
The name Shajarian comes from the Arabic ‘Shajar’ meaning tree. His life’s art was like a tree with roots sunk deep in the ground of divine love from which many branches have spread. We will hear echoes of his heart-rending voice as his influence lives on in them.
I am a bird of heaven, from the snare of the world I must rise. (Hafez)
With love and prayers,