Saturday, March 22, 2014


Deben Bhattacharya
11" x 9.5", oil on wood, 2014
Last year I bought on separate occasions two records with traditional music from Iran. The first one, Classical Music of Iran, Vol. 1: Dastgah Systems (1966) on the Folkways label is the most interesting (partly because of the rich documentation inside the jacket) and older (by five years) than the second, Musique Folklorique du Monde: Iran (from the same series as the Syrian one—see previous). Both records are represented in the list of 100 songs. The folkways one was produced by Ella Zonis Mahler the other by Deben Bhattacharya. Zonis' is a recording of female singer Khatereh Parvaneh while the musicians on Bhattacharya's remain anonymous. Zonis Mahler is best known for the Persian recordings while Bhattacharya has a much more storied history. The first paragraph from the Wikipedia page (reproduced here) only hints at the colorful history of his career.
Deben Bhattacharya (1921–2001) was a Bengali radio producer, record producer, ethnomusicologist, anthropologist, documentary filmmaker, photographer, translator, poet, writer, broadcaster, lecturer, and folk music consultant. He produced over 100 records, 23 films and published more than a dozen books in his lifetime and much of his work was carried out under the auspices of UNESCO.

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