ḤOSAYN KHAN KAMĀNČAKAŠ, a famous musician and a master of the kamānča, the chief traditional Persian string instrument played with a bow (d. 1313 Š./1934). Ḥosayn, in the early 20th century, was also known as Esmāʿilzādeh, being the son of Esmāʿil Khan Kamānčakaš, the most famous kamānča player at the court of Nāṣer-al-Din Shah (Moʿayyer-al-Mamālek, p. 25).
He started playing the kamānča under his father’s supervision, but he learned it mainly from his uncle Qoli Khan. To begin with, he joined the group of popular musicians (moṭreb) of Sar-e Pulak (part of the Tehran bazaar). Having become a master of the kamānča, he abandoned that group and joined the Anjoman-e oḵowwat (q.v.), led by Mirzā ʿAli Khan Ẓahir-al-Dawla, and he played during their sessions (Ḵāleqī, I, pp. 68-69; Mašhun, II, pp. 543-45).
Ḥosayn Khan earned his living by teaching classes, and he was said to be as great a master of the kamānča as Mīrzā Ḥosaynqoli Āqā (q.v.) was of the tār. In those days, playing the violin was becoming popular, and those who wanted to learn how to play it would refer to Ḥosayn Khan. He played the violin by holding it on the ground or sometimes on his knee like the kamānča, and that was also how he taught it. He had many pupils, the most famous of whom were Reẓā Maḥjubi, Rokn-al-Din Moḵtār, Abu’l-Ḥasan Ṣabā, Ḥosayn Yāḥaqqi, Ebrāhim Manṣuri, and Šahbāz Barmaki.
Ḥosayn Khan was not only a true master of the art of playing the kamānča, but also one of the most skillful composers of the piš-darāmads (introductory pieces or preludes) and the rengs (fairly fast rhythmic pieces one can dance to). He died in Tehran in the year 1934, at the age of 80, leaving behind no offspring.
Ruḥ-Allāh Ḵāleqi, Sargozašt-e musiqi-e Irān, I., 2nd ed., Tehran, 1997.
Ḥasan Mašhun, Tāriḵ-e musiqi-e Irān I, Tehran, 1993.
Dust ʿAlī Khan Moʿayyer-al-Mamālek, Yāddāšthāʾi az zendagi-e ḵoṣuṣi-e Nāṣer-al-Din Shah, Tehran, 1982.
Originally Published: December 15, 2004
Last Updated: March 23, 2012
This article is available in print.
Vol. XII, Fasc. 5, pp. 513-514