ḴĀLEDI, Mehdi, Persian violinist and songwriter (b. Tehran, 1 Mordād 1298 Š./24 July 1919, d. Tehran, 9 Āḏar 1369 Š./30 November 1990). As a violinist, Ḵāledi was known for his command of traditional Persian music (musiqi-e aṣi1) and its innovative interpretation. As a composer, he was admired for the range of his rhythmically varied and elegiac songs.

Education. Ḵāledi was born into a musically inclined family: his father was knowledgeable about traditional Persian music. In his elementary and secondary schooling he acquired a thorough grounding in Persian classical poetry and calligraphy.

Ḵāledi began his apprenticeship 1936 under master violinist Abu’l-Ḥasan Ṣabā, a former student of Mirzā ʿAbd-Allāh and Darviš Khan, and ʿAli-Naqi W/Vaziri. For three years Ḵāledi diligently applied himself to learning Ṣabā’s repertoire of traditional modes (radif) for violin, which the master had considerably condensed, annotated, and textualized (Sepantā, p. 182). After Ḵāledi completed his training, Ṣabā is reputed to have said, “I have had many students, but Ḵāledi falls in a category all by himself” (Naṣirifar, p. 16; Behruzi, pp. 166-67). In the ensuing years, Ḵāledi followed the example of his versatile teacher by learning to play the setār and tombak, and when the latter died, he composed a dirge, Ba yād-e Ṣabā (Remembering Ṣabā), which was sung by Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Banān and broadcast on the national radio.

Career as violinist and ensemble leader. Radio Tehran inaugurated its national broadcasts on 24 April 1940. In July, on Ṣabā’s recommendation, the twenty-one-year old Ḵāledi auditioned there for the position of resident violin soloist. At Ṣabā’s behest, the director of the Conservatory of Music (Honarestān-e musiqi), Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Minbāšiān, convened a panel of examiners, who endorsed Ḵāledi’s mastery of Persian traditional music (Behruzi, p. 168). Ḵāledi subsequently broadcast his own twice-weekly fifteen-minute program of solo performances.

In 1945, at the invitation of All-India Radio, Ḵāledi traveled to Delhi and Bombay, accompanied by a singer and three other instrumentalists. The quintet broadcast a series of Persian musical programs in Delhi and made eighty recordings in Bombay (Naṣirifar, p. 12; Behruzi, p. 163), most of which are lost. The following year Ḵāledi returned to India with three other musicians, including a twenty-two-year-old alto singer known as Delkaš. They performed for All-India Radio in Bombay, Lahore, and Karachi (Naṣirifar, p. 22) and made twenty-five recordings (Behruzi, p. 163; Naḵjavāni, p. 57).

Upon his return to Persia, Ḵāledi formed a sixteen-piece ensemble known as the Youth Orchestra, featuring Persian and Western instruments, with Delkaš as its singer and Ḵāledi himself as main soloist and songwriter (Behruzi, pp. 163, 170). His brother, Aṣḡar, an accomplished santur player, was also a member of this orchestra, which had weekly broadcasts on Sunday evenings. The collaboration between Ḵāledi and Delkaš came to an end in 1952 (Behruzi, p. 189).

A few years later, Ḵāledi became director of music (sarparast-e musiqi) at Tehran Radio and organized seven broadcast ensembles. As a violinist and songwriter, he collaborated with Dāwud Pirniā in the production of radio programs such as Golhā-ye jāvidān, designed to promote Persian traditional music (Behruzi, p. 165; Naṣirifar, p. 33). He also recorded violin performances together with setār virtuoso Aḥmad ʿEbādi (q.v.), santur player Aṣḡar Ḵāledi, and tombak player Ḥosayn Hamadāniān.

As both violinist and songwriter, Ḵāledi accorded the human voice a singularly privileged place. Apart from Delkaš, he worked with many other singers, both male and female (Behruzi, p. 170). In addition to his trip to India, Ḵāledi had occasions to visit and perform in Afghanistan, India, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, and the Soviet Azerbaijan (Naṣirifar, pp. 27-28). In 1969, he retired both from the Tehran radio and the Iranian Railroad, where he had been employed. He died in 1990 after several years of suffering from a stroke and throat cancer. Ḵāledi had been married twice and had three children.

Ḵāledi as a songwriter. The first song composed by Ḵāledi was “Raqṣ-e parvāna” (Dance of the butterfly), which was later arranged by Ruḥ-Allāh Ḵāleqi and broadcast on Radio Tehran in 1942 (Behruzi, p. 170). Subsequently, Ḵāledi wrote 246 songs (taṣnif, tarāna) in various modes of the twelve dastgāhs (Behruzi, p. 170). He set to music many poems of major Persian poets, including Hafez, Saʿdi, Rumi, and Ḵayyām.

In general, Ḵāledi’s compositional techniques were informed by the theoretical precepts and innovations of the three elder musicians Ṣabā, Vaziri, and Ḵāleqi; but his compositions are original in that they show the influence of Persian folk songs and the declamatory style of Persian classical poetry. Characteristics of this are his songs’ varying rhythms, combination of plangent but often energetic tempo, and a compressed but intense vocal phraseology.

Contribution to Persian film music. Ḵāledi cooperated with Ṣabā in writing music for the lyrics of the film Ṭufān-e zendagi (Life’s tempest, 1948). His own success in film music began with the extremely popular songs he wrote for Šarmsār (Disgraced, 1950), which starred Delkaš. He went on to compose vocal numbers for Mādar (Mother, 1951), Afsungar (Spellbinder, 1953), Bāzgašt (Return, 1953), and Morād (1954). In 1955, Ḵāledi, Sanasar Ḵāčāturiān, and ʿAli Zāhedi co-produced the film Mājarā-ye zendagi (Life story); Ḵāledi wrote songs for the star, soprano Faraḥ ʿĀfiatpur, known as Faraḥ Panāhi (Issari, pp. 266-67, 269, 272, 275-76, 280; Maghsoudlou, p. 465).

Style as a violinist. Ḵāledi has credited a number of musicians with having influenced his exceptional style as a violinist, among them Ṣabā, violinist and kamānča player Ḥosayn Yāḥaqqi, kamānča player ʿAli-Reża Čangi, santur player Ḥabib Samāʿi, singers Adib Ḵᵛānsāri, Tāj Eṣfahāni, Jawād Badiʿzāda, Mortażā Neydāwud, tār players Mortażā Neydāwud, ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Šahnāzi, composer Ruḥ-Allāh Ḵāleqi, and his own father (Behruzi, pp. 164-65). Ḵāledi’s performance aesthetics, however, derived mainly from his own conviction that musical instruments and compositions should express, as far as possible, the affective richness of the human voice in general, and the rhythm of Persian classical poetry and modern lyrics in particular. Ḵāledi made a practice of performing solos with selected poems, mostly of Hafeż’s divān open before him on his music stand (Nawwāb-e Ṣafā, p. 117).

In his violin playing, Ḵāledi tended to omit the intricate but essential ornamentations of Persian music known as riza-kāri. His was not an ostentatiously virtuoso style, yet it required considerable technical facility, concentration, and dedication. His performance always came across as authentic, pure, sonorous, and emotionally vibrant.



Šāpur Behruzi, Čehrahā-ye musiqi-ye irāni I, Tehran, 1993.

Šāhroḵ Golestān, “Āvāz-e ḵāṭerāt: Delkaš dar goftogu bā Šāhroḵ Golestān,” Four Parts, BBC, London, UK, 2, 9, 16, 23 January 1999.

Mohammad Ali Issari, Cinema in Iran, 1900-1979, Metuchen, N.J., 1989.

Parviz Ḵaṭibi, Ḵāṭerāt-i az honarmandān, Los Angeles, 1994, p. 33.

Bahman Maghsoudlou, Iranian Cinema, New York, 1987. Erik Naḵjavāni, Interview with Delkaš, Ottawa, Canada, 18 November 1999.

Ḥabib-Allāh Naṣirifar, Mehdi Ḵāledi, Tehran, 1991.

Bruno Nettl, “Persian Classical Music in Tehran: The Process of Change,” in idem, ed., Eight Urban Musical Cultures: Tradition and Change, Urbana, Illinois., 1978, pp. 155-56.

Esmāʿil Nawwāb-e Ṣafā, Qeṣṣa-ye šamʿ, Tehran, 1998, p. 144. Sāsān Sepantā, Čašmandāz-e musiqi-e Irān, Tehran, 1990.

Selected discography. Mehdi Ḵāledi, accompanied by Ḥosayn Hamadāniān on tombak, Violin Solo 1, (Šur,Šur Salmak, Homāyun, Dašti); Violin Solo 2 (Šahrzād, Bayāt-e Eṣfahān, Bayāt-e Tork, Afšāri); Violin Solo 3 (Segāh, Māhur, Šuštari, Čahārgāh), audiocassettes, C and G Audio and Video Recording and Reproducing, Northridge, Cal., 1984.

Mehdi Ḵāledi, violin, Aḥmad ʿEbādi, setār, Aṣḡar Ḵāledi, santur, Mehrdād Ḵāledi tombak: Homāyun, Šuštari,Āvāz-e Eṣfahān, Āvāz-e Bayāt-e Tork, Kānun-e parvareš-e fekri-e kudakān o now-javānān, n.p., n.d. Mehdi Ḵāledi, violin, Aḥmad ʿEbādi, setār, Ḥasan Kasāʾi, ney, Mortażā Maḥjubi, songwriter: Šāḵ-e gol 6, Irān-ṣadā, n.d.

Selected song compositions(mode: lyricist/poet, title). Abu ʿAṭā: Ḵāju Kermāni, “Maḥram-e rāz”; Mir-Nāṣer Šarifi, “Sāqi.” Afšāri: Ḥāfeẓ, “Goftam, goftā”; Mir Nāṣer Šarifi, “Deldāda.” Bayāt-e Tork: Parviz Ḵaṭibi, “Mārā bas”; Nawwāb-e Ṣafā, “Nāla-ye del.” Bayāt-e Eṣfahān: Foruḡi Besṭāmi, “Mehrbāni”; Māzandarān folksong, “Maryam jān”; Nawwāb-e Ṣafā, “Āmād nowbahār”; Saʿdi, “Ru-ye zibā”; Mir-Nāṣer Šarifi, “Biqarār.” Čahārgāh: Parviz Ḵaṭibi, “Ḵanda wa gerya; Rahi Moʿayyeri, “Maḥfel-e ʿešq”; Nawwāb-e Ṣafā, “Daḡ-e lāla.” Dašti: ʿAṭṭār, “Zolf-e yār”; Parviz Ḵaṭibi, “Nāla-ye ney”; Moʿini Kermānšāhi, “Gereftār”; Nāder Nāderpur, “Didār”; Rumi, “Su-ye mastān”; Bižan Taraqqi, “ʿEšq-e waṭan.” Homāyun: Mehdi Ḵāledi, “Doḵtar-e bāḡ”; Parviz Ḵaṭibi, “Bāḡ o čaman”; Rahi Moʿayyeri, “Be-kenar-am benšin”; Mir-Nāṣer Šarifi, “Beḵᵛāhi naḵᵛāhi,” “Afsorda-del.” Māhur: Rahi Moʿayyeri, “Ātaš-e jān,” “Golbarg”; Mir-Nāṣer Šarifi, “Raʿnā jān,” “Tab-e ʿešq,” “Yār āmad.” Segāh: Dānešvari, “Botsāz”; Karim Fakur, “Nāzanin-e man”; Nawwāb-e Ṣafā, “Roʾyā-ye šāʿer.” Šur: Simin Behbahāni, “Gol-e roʾyā”; Māzandarān folksong, “Āy bānu”; Mehdi Ḵāledi, “Če konam”; Nawwāb-e Ṣafā, “Nā-omid, rafti.” Šuštari: Simin Behbahāni, “Borow”; Parviz Ḵaṭibi, “Ṭaʿna-ye yār.”

(E. Naḵjavāni)

Originally Published: December 15, 2010

Last Updated: April 19, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XV, Fasc. 4, pp. 375-377