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Present Past

Notes from the Life of a Persian/American Composer
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Please note that book has not yet been published. Orders will be shipped upon publication. ABOUT PRESENT PAST Present Past is “a selective mémoire,” as the author, well known Iranian musicologist and composer Hormoz Farhat, calls it. His rich life is divided into four distinct phases: being born in and growing up in Iran; studying and later teaching in the United States; returning to Iran during the boom of the seventies; and finally escaping the tumultuous 1979 Iranian Revolution to Ireland, “a country that we love and admire, a green and gentle land with warm and charming people,” where he taught and still lives. The author was born in Persia during the transformative years of the nineteen thirties and forties. He remembers Reza Shah’s forceful reforms and secularization, the upheaval of the Second World War, the Allied invasion and later, the Shah’s abdication. During this period he becomes enchanted with Western classical music. In 1949, Farhat moves to America, not knowing much English, where he is “a stranger in a strange land” and was so out of step as to wear a suit and tie to his university classes. He eventually finishes his doctorate, becomes a composer, and teaches at a university. In 1968, a time when a great deal of reform and progress were underway, he returns to Persia. During that period, he heads the Music Department at the University of Tehran and the Music Council for the Iranian National Television network. He also relates his role in planning the annual Shiraz{/Persepolis} Arts Festival. In the final section, Persian and Western music are compared and contrasted. The history and substance of the urban musical tradition of Persia are discussed, as well as the problems that music faces in Islamic society. He assesses the musical trends of the past one hundred years in contemporary Western musical composition. HORMOZ FARHAT Hormoz Farhat was born in Iran in 1930. His love of music was piqued at an early age while learning to play the violin. In his teens, he moved to the U.S. to attend college. He received a B.A., M.A., and, in 1955, he earned his Ph.D. in Composition and Ethnomusicology from the University of California. He studied with composers Darius Milhaud, Lukas Foss, and Roy Harris. For a decade and a half thereafter, he taught at various universities in the U.S. In the early seventies, he returned to Iran where he became the head of the music department at the University of Tehran. He also held leadership positions at the Iranian National TV and the internationally renowned Shiraz Arts Festival. After the 1979 Iranian revolution, he moved to Ireland where he taught music at Trinity College in Dublin until his retirement. Hormuz Farhat has lectured on music at various universities around the world. His compositions have been performed widely by orchestras, including the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the English Chamber Orchestra. He presently lives in Dublin with his wife, philosopher Maria Baghramian. They have a one son.

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