Moshir Habibollah Homayoun Shahrdar

Photograph of Moshir Homayoun.

Moshir Habibollah Homayoun Shahrdar was born into a wealthy merchant family in 1886. He is widely credited as being the first Iranian pianist, and judging by his appearance as a frequent accompanist on 78s (credited and uncredited), the Persian repertoire greatly benefited from his expertise.

BiographyEdit

He was born in Tehran in 1886. He was the first known Iranian pianist. He played and composed Persian Music for piano. His father was Nasrullah Khan Sepahsalarie kompanye Shirazi. His teachers were Agha Bozorg [Army Music officer], Mirza Hussein Gholi Farahani, Hussein Esmaeil Zadeh, and Mohammad Sadegh Khan Sorourol Molk. He went to London with Darvish Khan to record Gramophone Discs. He recorded many discs with Darvish Kahn, Zelli, Farah Angiz, Taher Zadeh and… His Discs:W029, GPX8, WXGPX6, GFX7, G.C.7-12250, G.C.7-19272. He is also the founder of the Shahrdar Family.

First Iranian piano playerEdit

His father, Nasrullah Khan Sepahsalari Kompani Shirazi, was a merchant who spent 6 months out of the year in France and 6 months in Tehran. He would take Persian rugs and artworks to Paris and trade them for French articles. In 1890, Nasrollah Sepahsalari Kompani returned to Iran with 2 pianos and chandeliers. He gave one of the pianos to the Royal Court under Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar. The second piano, he took to his home. At the time, being a wealthy merchant, Nasrollah Sepah Salar Kompani had an estate in Tehran whereby there was a large home towards the aft of the property where his wife and children lived, and near to the entrance of the property, there was a separate building used to entertain guests and finalize business transactions. Apparently, the piano was placed in the business building of the property and no one knew how to play the piano. Nasrullah Khan had 11 children. His 5th child was Habibollah. When he brought the piano, young Habibollah was 4 years of age, and his father would bring him to the entertainment building in the evening and force him to play the piano. He had no formal training in piano playing, however, he was accustomed to hearing the traditional Persian instruments such as the Tar, Santoor, and Kamanche. Young Habibollah could apply the sounds from these instruments to the piano and produce beautiful music. This became a passion of his which lasted his lifetime. He was often heard on Iranian National Radio playing his piano in the 1950s and was referred to as Goldfingers. His father died from heart disease when he was young. By the time he was 20 years of age, he went to England and played the piano in the Royal Court.

Civil servicesEdit

He became a civil servant and worked with Reza Shah in the modernization of Iran. He was instrumental in the organization of the first Iranian census whereby all citizens of Iran had to be registered and a surname had to be recorded for all families. At the time, he was a Mayor in Shiraz, and therefore, he adopted the name of Shahrdar, which means holder or possessor of the city. His last name was then given to all his brothers and sisters. He also was a chief of police in Tehran before being appointed mayor of Shiraz. He also was CEO of national Iranian steel company. This was a company established by German engineers.

Politically, he was opposed to the religious ruling and to dictatorships. For this, in the early 1900s, he was shortly imprisoned. He was soon released with no consequence.

World War IIEdit

During World War II Nazi Germany requested Iranian assistance in building a railroad track from Iran to Europe. In the late 1930s thanks to German companies and Reza Shah, the Iranian Steel Corporation was formed. Reza Shah appointed Shahrdar in charge of overseeing the development of the corporation. Even though Iran was a neutral country during World War II, Reza Shah seemed to favor Nazi Germany, which alarmed the Allied Forces. On August 25, 1941, the Allied Forces invaded Iran with Russia invading from the North and the British from the South. Shahrdar feared the Russians would retaliate for his involvement with the Iranian Steel Corporation, so he took his family and fled to Shiraz. Shiraz is a southern city and was occupied by the British and the Americans. Eventually, hostilities subsided and he returned to Tehran.

Personal life and familyEdit

He married at an early age. His wife died from illness, and he did not remarry until age 39.

Marriage to Forough Afkham Afkhami. When he lived in Shiraz, he had the opportunity to befriend with a noble named Emamgholi Afkham-Ebrahimi that he was the son of Soltan Ali Khan VAZIR AFKHAM a prime minister in Qajar dynasty. One day, Emamgholi showed a picture of one of his daughters to Habibollah Shahrdar. Habibollah khan could obtain the picture from him, and then he sent a message to his sister in Tehran to propose to young Forough Afkhami. She and her family accepted Habibollah Shahrdar's sister acted as proxy in Teheran for civil marriage to her. Therefore, he was not present at his wedding. Then a caravan was arranged where both families traveled to Shiraz for the wedding party and at which time Habibollah Shahrdar met his wife Forough. They had 5 children: Cyrus, Farideh, Shahrdokht, Cambize, and Pirooz.

DeathEdit

He developed Parkinson's disease and in 1969, he died from complications of the disease.

He is remembered for his contributions to Persian music and his civil service.

ReferencesEdit