Qamar ol-Molouk Vaziri

1905-1959 Takestan, Qazvin Province Iran

Qamar-ak-Muluk Vaziri, commonly referred to as Qamar, was a popular and pioneering Persian mezzo-soprano, much revered for her mastery of the repertoire of Persian vocal music (radif-e avaz) and her sensitive rendition of tasnif and tarana, or composed metered songs. Generous to a fault, Qamar, despite her celebrity, ended her life in poverty.

Qamar-ak-Muluk Vaziri, commonly referred to as Qamar, was a popular and pioneering Persian mezzo-soprano, much revered for her mastery of the repertoire of Persian vocal music (radif-e avaz) and her sensitive rendition of tasnif and tarana ,or composed metered songs. She changed her last name to Vazirizada, in honor her mentor ʿAli-Naqi Vaziri. She grew up in the care of her maternal grandmother, Molla Ḵayr-al-Nesaʾ, whose melodic voice had gained her a position as a narrator of the tragedy of the Shiʿite martyrs of Karbala at the religious gatherings of the women’s quarters (haram) of Qajar king Naser-al-Din Shah. From the age seven, Qamar began accompanying her grandmother to her religious recitals and less formal women’s religious gatherings. During these gatherings, Qamar learned a great deal from her grandmother and Molla Ḵayr-al-Nesaʾ encouraged Qamar to perform along with her.

Musically, Qamar learned much from well-known musicians of the time who frequented these gatherings including Darvish Khan and Musa Naydavud. In 1922-1923. Naydavud taught her Persian voice radif. Qamar’s apprenticeship with Naydavud led to his later collaboration as her first accompanist.

Qamar’s first formal performance as a solo vocalist took place at Tehran’s Grand Hotel in 1924. It was the first public appearance of a Persian female without the veil (hejab) in front of a mixed audience. This concert set a precedent that affected the musical life of future generations of Persian female vocalists before the Revolution of 1979. Until the establishment of Radio Tehran in 1940, Qamar’s concerts continued in formal venues such as movietheaters and less formal festive, charitable, and commemorative musical events both in Tehran and in provincial cities such as Mashad and around Hamadan. Qamar’s weekly radio programs began in 1941. After suffering a stroke, she retired from the radio in 1956.

Chief among the musicians who accompanied Qamar were pianists Mortaza Mahjubi, Habib-Allah Moshir Homayun (Shahrdar), Musa Maʿrufi; tar players Arsalan Dargahi, Esmaʿil Kamali, Mortaza Naydavud, and ʿAli-Akbar Shahnazi; violinists Abu’l-Hasan Saba and Rokn-al-Din Mokhtar, and violin and kamancha (spike fiddle) player Hosayn Yahaqqi. Contributors of lyrics to Qamar’s songs also included well-known poets and lyricists of her time such as Mohammad-Taqi Bahar, Hasan Wahid Dastgerdi, Mirzada ʿEshqi, Iraj Mirza, Rahi Moʿayyeri, Mohammad-ʿAli Amir Jahed, ʿAref Qazvini. Her musical recordings began in 1927-28, with recording of 78- rpms for the German label Polyphon, and His Master’s Voice in 1933.

She was respected among musicians for her mastery of the vocal repertoire of Persian music and her nuanced delivery. Qamar was particularly noted for her extraordinary ability in performing of the tahrir  (falsetto). She also made a cameo appearance in the film Madar (The Mother, 1951) with Delkash, Qamar was the first female vocalist to sing political songs like those of Aref Gazvini and songs like Womens Place in Society, and Unveiling. Being extremely generous she gave all her wealth to the poor and to charitable causes and died in poverty.

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