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The Revival of Iranian Classical Music during the Second Pahlavi Period: The Influence of the Politics of “Iranian-ness” Open Access


Other title
Multiple Modernities
Music Revival
Iranian Nationalism
Iranian Classical Music
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Salehyar, Hamidreza
Supervisor and department
Frishkopf, Michael (Music)
Examining committee member and department
Moshaver, Maryam (Music)
Mahdavi, Mojtaba (Political Science)
Department of Music

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts
Degree level
This thesis demonstrates the process of the gradual formation and development of revivalist ideas in Iran’s musical society during Muhammad-Reza Pahlavi’s reign (1941 - 1979). Examining multiple articulations of Iranian nationalism, this research focuses on three different historical periods—from the late nineteenth century to 1941, from 1941 to 1953, and from 1953 to 1979—to demonstrate how different nationalisms influenced Iran’s music scene and encouraged a return to the Qajar musical tradition. Introducing dominant discourses on Iranian classical music from the 1920s to the 1970s as reflected in publications, this study traces the development of these discourses to explain the gradual emergence and maturation of revivalist ideas and practices within musical society pre-1979 Iran.This thesis argues that Ali-Naqi Vaziri’s students, including Ruhullah Khaliqi and Mehdi Barkechli, provided necessary practical and intellectual prerequisites for the revival of Iranian classical music during the mid-late 1940s. From the mid-1950s, the first generation of Iranian musicologists and ethnomusicologists also acknowledged the significance of Iran’s musical traditions. The efforts of all these musicians attracted the support of the state after the 1953 coup. The state’s cultural policies, which were motivated by political concerns for authenticating the Iranian monarchy, encouraged the celebration of Iran’s cultural heritage. Concurrently, the social, cultural, and political crises motivated some musicians to advocate for Iranian classical music as an antidote to perceived cultural and political corruption. While Daryush Safvat interpreted the music as a mystical practice to challenge emerging commercialism, Muhammad-Reza Lutfi employed Iranian classical music in his innovative works as a form of political resistance against the state. Thus, from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s, the state and its critics encouraged the revival of Iranian classical music while pursuing their own objectives.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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