Composer Information: Behzad Ranjbaran
Behzad Ranjbaran's music has been performed by such internationally acclaimed artists as Renée Fleming, Joshua Bell, and Yo-Yo Ma. Songs of Eternity was written for Renée Fleming, who gave the premiere with the Seattle Symphony under the direction of Gerard Schwarz; and Joshua Bell was the soloist in the premiere performances of the Violin Concerto with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, also conducted by Schwarz. Mr. Bell went on to give the work's North American premiere with the Indianapolis Symphony, conducted by Mario Venzago, and subsequent performances with Peter Oundjian and the Toronto Symphony. International Sejong Soloists commissioned Awakening for premiere at the Great Mountains Music Festival in Korea as a celebration of peace. June 2008 will see the premiere of a new piano concerto, commissioned by the Atlanta Symphony for soloist Jean-Yves Thibaudet.
Recordings include the Persian Trilogy on the Delos label by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by JoAnn Falletta. This orchestral cycle, comprising the works Seven Passages, Seemorgh, and The Blood of Seyavash, takes its inspiration from ancient Persian legends, as recounted in the 11th century epic poem Shahname (The Book of Kings). Ms. Falletta has also conducted Elegy for Cello and Orchestra with soloist Yo-Yo Ma and the Buffalo Philharmonic, reviewed in the Buffalo press as "ethereal... fragile, almost like a mirage. " In the fall of 2006, performances of Seven Passages by the Buffalo Philharmonic, as well as the Reading Symphony, elicited praise for Mr. Ranjbaran's "mastery of orchestration... apparent in the delicious, delicate opening sonorities" (Herman Trotter, The Buffalo News) and for his "brilliantly and colorfully orchestrated... engaging" work (Susan L. Peña, Reading Eagle).
The 2006-2007 season saw the premieres of two well-received new works. Shiraz, a piano trio, was commissioned by Bargemusic and premiered in New York. In the spring of 2007, the Philadelphia Chamber Ensemble premiered Isfahan, which it commissioned to celebrate its 30th anniversary. In March, Renée Fleming once again lent her voice to Mr. Ranjbaran's Songs of Eternity, this time as part of a gala concert with the Fort Worth Symphony under Miguel Harth-Bedoya. Songs of Eternity, which was described as "enchanting... the evening's musical heart" by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, was received with overwhelming enthusiasm by audience members and critics alike. The performance led one columnist, Olin Chism of the Dallas Morning News, to exclaim: "You may not have heard of Mr. Ranjbaran, but you really should get to know his music... it's fair to call him a master of the orchestra."
In the summer of 2005, Mr. Ranjbaran was composer-in-residence for the 40th anniversary of the Saratoga Music Festival. In celebration of the occasion, he composed the orchestral overture Saratoga, which was premiered by Charles Dutoit and the Philadelphia Orchestra. The festival also saw the premiere of Piano Quintet and performances of many of Mr. Ranjbaran's chamber works; in addition, Chantal Juillet was the soloist in a performance of the Violin Concerto with Dutoit and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Mr. Ranjbaran's music has been described variously as having "qualities of inherent beauty and strong musical structure that make it a satisfying musical entity" (Henry Arnold, Nashville Scene) and "radiant luminescence" (Cecelia Porter, The Washington Post). Allen Gimbel (American Record Guide) said, in describing the "Persian Trilogy" CD, that "Ranjbaran has composed a noble and brilliantly conceived score, spectacularly orchestrated and filled with memorable tunes, meticulous development, and impressive craftsmanship." The Cello Concerto "is totally lovable... It would bring the house down in concert and deserves to be widely known" (David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com) and the 2005 Piano Quintet is "full of ideas... fluent and attractive to both performers and audiences" (Joseph Dalton, Times Union, Albany). Accolades continue for Songs of Eternity, which was described in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Philippa Kiraly) as "beautiful", with "exquisite melismas"; and Joe Riley commented in the Liverpool Echo that the Violin Concerto is "high class, cohesive" and "when the concerto... just sings out a fine melodic line, the effect is ravishing."
Born in Tehran, Iran, Mr. Ranjbaran is the recipient of the Rudolf Nissim Award for his Violin Concerto. His musical education started early when he entered the Tehran Music Conservatory at the age of nine. He came to the United States in 1974, where he attended Indiana University and received his doctorate from The Juilliard School, where he currently serves on the faculty. Named a "Distinguished Artist" by the New Jersey Council on the Arts, Ranjbaran's honors also include a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a grant from Meet the Composer (composer/choreographer project), and a Charles Ives Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
For more information, please visit www.behzadranjbaran.com