JANĀB (JENĀB) DAMĀVANDI (b. village of Aḥmadābād, Damāvand district, 1867; d. Aḥmadābād, 1973), popular name of Moḥammad Fallāḥi, a vocalist of the late Qajar period, who performed in religious assemblies. His father Mollā ʿAli, known as Mirzā-ye Moʿallem, was the personal tutor of Solṭān Morād Mirzā Ḥosām-al-Salṭana, a son of the crown prince ʿAbbās Mirzā.
Mollā ʿAli enrolled Moḥammad at the Ṣadr School in Tehran where, alongside his school work, he received training as a vocalist by Āqā Jaʿfar Lāhiji. There is not much information available about the first thirty years of his life, but what is known is that he gained the title janāb (see ALQĀB O ʿANĀWIN) during this period. He lived in era when the traditions and modes (dastgāh, q.v.) of Persian music were being transformed by the masters. Damāvandi associated with the Farāhāni brothers, Āqā Ḥosaynqoli and Mirzā ʿAbd-Allāh (qq.v.) and other masters of the time, including Hājj ʿAli-Akbar Khan Šahnāzi, Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Darviš Khan, Bāqer Khan, Ṭāherzāda, Eqbāl Āḏar, from each of whom he learned something different (“Yādvāra,” p. 67).
Damāvandi’s voice is preserved on records dating back to when records of Persian music were first being produced in Tehran, Tbilisi, London, and Paris (1906-15). In these early recordings Damāvandi has sung in the modes of šur (accompanied by Mirzā Asad-Allāh Khan on the tār), moḵālef (accompanied by Ḥosayn Khan on the ka-mānča), šur-e dašti, and bayāt-e Eṣfahān (accompanied by Āqā Ḥosaynqoli on the tār; Sepantā, p. 171). He also made a recording of the call to prayer (aḏān) and prayers (monājāt; catalogue number G.14.12596-95), which brought him his initial fame. He also made a number of recordings with ʿAli Akbar Šahnāzi on the tār, the first of which was when Šahnāzi was only fourteen years old (Sepantā, p. 143, n. 3).
Ḥasan Mašẖun has characterized Damāvandi’s style of singing as the Ḵorāsāni style and has compared him to such masters as Sayyed Bāqer Jandaqi, Shaikh Ṭāher Żiaʾ Reṯāʾi, Ḥāji Tāj Neišāburi, and ʿAli Khan Nāyeb-al-Salṭana (Mašḥun, p. 658). However, in a radio interview on 14 Dey 1350 Š./4 January1971, Damāvandi explained that he learned to sing the call to prayer from Sayyed Jaʿfar Lāhiji in Tehran and singing the repertoire of Persian music (radif) from Sayyed Abd-al-Raẖim Eṣfahāni in Isfahan (Mašḥun, p. 417). Despite the difficulty in precisely determining Damāvandi’s style of singing from extant records, it can be said that it resembles the Ḵorāsāni style more closely than the Eṣfahāni style.
Damāvandi was buried in his birthplace of Aḥma-dābād. He is remembered by his fellow villagers as a generous individual. He built a school in Aḥmadābād, which is still standing and is known as Ḵāna-ye Moʿallem (House of the Teacher). His works have not been reprinted. The Kowṯar House of Culture (Farhang-sarā-ye Kowṯar) in Damāvand commemorated the 30th anniversary of his death with a memorial on 4 Dey 1382 Š./ 24 December 2003 (“Yādvāra,” pp. 66-67).
S. A. Mir ʿAlinaqi, “Janāb-e Damā-vandi,” in Dāneš-nāma-ye Jahān-e eslām X, pp. 810-11.
Ḥasan Mašḥun, Tāriḵ-e musiqi-e Irān, Tehran, 1994.
Sāsān Sepantā, Tāriḵ-e tahawwol-e żabṭ-e musiqi dar Irān, Isfahan, 1987. “Yādvāra-ye ostād-e āvāz-e Irān: Janāb Damāvandi,” Maqām 7/11, 2004.
(S. A. Mir ʿAlinaqi)
Originally Published: December 15, 2008
Last Updated: April 10, 2012
This article is available in print.
Vol. XIV, Fasc. 5, pp. 532-533