The official website of Legendary Artist Reza Varzandeh
Biography of Reza Varzandeh
زندگينامه رضا ورزنده
In Persian (adapted from Soureh Mehr Magazine):
غلامرضا مرشد ورزنده معروف به رضا ورزنده، سال 1305 در كاشان متولد شد. پدرش كه با موسیقی بخوبی آشنائی داشت،از كودكی او را به این سو كشاند و او نواختن سنتور را مجدانه آغاز كرد. در دهه 30، به تهران آمد و در رادیو به كار مشغول شد در این رسانه، او كنار اساتیدی نظیر صبا و محجوبی، معلومات خود را اعتلا بخشید و سبك شخصی سنتورنوازی خود را كاملتر كرد. سنتور او نیز منحصر به فرد بود و اندازهای متفاوت نسبت به سازهای مرسوم داشت. هنگام نواختن معمولاً، حولهای روی سیمها انداخته، آن گاه روی ساز مینواخت.
In English (by N. Hekmat):
Reza Varzandeh was born in Kashan, Iran in 1927. His father, Gholam-Reza Morshed Varzandeh was an accomplished santur player and from the age of 7, began teaching his son the santur. By the age of 10, Reza was fully trained in the Iranian music modal or "dastgah" system. By his early teens, Reza had emerged as a gifted santur player in Kashan and, by some accounts, was thought to have surpassed his father in his mastery of the instrument.
Hossein Ghavami, a well-known Iranian singer, on travel to Kashan discovered Reza Varzandeh's talent and encouraged him to pursue further studies of the Persian santur under Habib Samaiee, the nationally famous santur player of the time. On account of Hossein Ghavami, when Reza Varzandeh left Kashan to Tehran in his early 20s, Habib Samaiee had passed.
Reza spent his first few years in Tehran performing on the army radio and studied under prominent musicians Saba and Mahjoubi. After a few years, Varzandeh began performing on Radio Tehran and the popular Golha radio programs, through which he achieved widespread recognition throughout Iran. Reza Varzandeh developed his own brilliant and revolutionary technique for playing the santur. His wooden hammers (or "mezrab"), unlike the conventional mezrab, lacked any finger slots. This shape allowed Varzandeh to move the mezrab with his fingers, in place of his wrist or arm. Varzandeh introduced techniques to soften the sound of the santur. Often, he used his hands to temporally constrain the echo emanating from the santur strings (much like the soft pedal of the piano) or struck the strings over a thin towel placed over the top face of the santur.
As a young musician in Tehran, Varzandeh quickly became recognized for his mastery of the dastgahs and improvisational skills. Remarkably, every piece he performed was unrehearsed and grossly distinct from any other previously performed. His solo performances are characterized by awe-inspiring passages through the Persian dastgahs and the uplifting modulations of rhythms. With immeasurable and unseen talent, with full precision Varzandeh accompanied groups and singers on his first time hearing the performed compositions or songs.
For nearly 30 years, Varzandeh was heard daily by millions on national Iranian radio and television and played alongside the leading Iranian musicians during his time. At 50 years of age, on the edge of poverty, the musical legend's life came to an abrupt end, after suffering from a sudden massive heart attack in 1977. Today, Varzandeh only remains known to a select minority of Iranians and his technique practiced by a few.
This site was last updated 01/21/11 Contact the webmaster, Neema Hekmat, to report any problems with this page.