About this collection

Mahmoud Zoufonoun (Jan 1st, 1920 - Oct 17th, 2013) held an unparalled position in 20th century Persian traditional music, for he not only was a major figure on violin and tar during the golden era of Iran's National Radio and Television (1940's - 60's) - performing, conducting, arranging, and archiving melodies from every region of the country - but was also a primary force in the development of musical education, collaborating with pioneers Abol Hassan Saba, Ruhollah Khaleghi and others, in order to expand and transmit materials related to the radifs, pedagogical repertoires of traditional music learned in order to create within the Persian modal system, called dastgah (for further information see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahmoud_Zoufonoun).

What distinguishes Mahmoud Zoufonoun from all other masters though, is his uncanny ability to transcribe with his own hand, in a most consistent and prescriptive manner, all of the repertoire that he plays - this allows for a one-of-a-kind study of the highest standard, documented and performed by a grand master functioning as both musician and musicologist with a monumental body of traditional Iranian work.  

When Zoufonoun moved to the U.S. in 1976, he continued teaching and performing, taking on Hafez Modirzadeh as his student in March of 1983.  Modirzadeh - at that time a jazz saxophone student at San Jose State University - painstakingly recorded each lesson that involved Zoufonoun playing his own notated repertoire for each of the twelve traditional Persian modal systems. Modirzadeh later went on to complete a Master's thesis in ethnomusicology at UCLA ('86), focusing on Zoufonoun's performance practice; this was followed with a PhD at Wesleyan University ('92), culminating with an original cross-cultural approach based on the Persian temperament learned from his life-long mentor. Over the next twenty years, and while on the Music faculty at SF State, Dr. Modirzadeh continued to study and perform with Mr. Zoufonoun, paying tribute in 2002 to the master's donating of his 500-page collection of musical notations to the J Paul Leonard Library Collections Division. This collection has been digitalized and is in the process of being uploaded to DIVA for students and scholars world-wide to examine and appreciate the formidable gift of violinist and tarist, Mahmoud Zoufonoun.



Notations and Recordings - Mahmoud Zoufonoun

Documentation and Curation - Hafez Modirzadeh

Archiving and Slating - Faraz Minooei

Photo:  Andrew Nozaka

Head of Collections - Lavonne Jacobsen

Digital Reproduction - Yasaman Mostoufi

Cataloguing - Jason Vasche

DIVA team - Andrew Roderick, Michael Harper, Erin Olson



These collections are hosted by the DIVA Team at Academic Technology, San Francisco State University.

For questions about the collection, please contact the DIVA Team:

Email: digitize@sfsu.edu