Alexander Rahbari


Since his invitation, at the young age of 31, from Herbert von Karajan to conduct the Berlin Philharmonic, Alexander 'Ali' Rahbari has received conisistent acclaim for his energetic conducting, especially within the operas of Verdi and Puccini. His considerable political outspokenness has also drawn significant attention to the plight of his fellow Iranian musicians.

Born in Iran, Rahbari began his musical studies as a violinist. Once his initial education was completed at the National Music Conservatory, he left to further his studies in Austria. There, Rahbari studied at the Vienna Academy of Music, where his teachers included Hans Swarowsky, Karl Österreicher, and Gottfried von Einem. Seeking to revitalize the musical life in his home country, Rahbari returned to Iran after the successful completion of his studies.

In 1973, Rahbari returned to the National Music Conservatory and was named director. From 1974, he was also the director of the Tehran Conservatory of Music. He began to guest conduct extensively within the country, but after his tenure at the Tehran Conservatory ended in 1977, Rahbari emigrated (again) to Europe. Later that year, Rahbari was awarded two medals: the silver at the Geneva conducting competition, and a gold at the Bensaçon competition.

In 1980, Karajan invited Rahbari to return to Salzburg to assist him at the Easter Festival. He continued to tour extensively in Europe, Japan, and Hong Kong as a guest conductor. The permanent guest conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra named him to the post of permanent guest conductor in 1985; he was also awarded that countries Dvorák prize.

Once he was appointed music director of the Belgian Radio and Television Philharmonic Orchestra in 1988, Rahbari began his tradition of extensive recordings for the Naxos label. Rahbari has also achieved great success as the founder and director of Koch Discover International, a recording label that has helped to propel a number of talented young artists into international prominence.

An accomplished composer, Rahbari has written a number of orchestral works, most notably the Violin Concerto and Music for Human Rights. His composition Beirut, written for nine flutes with added percussion, is stunningly haunting in the most beautiful sense. As the title suggests, this work is clearly derivative from the aural colors of his homeland, a thread that runs through the majority of his works.

On August 28, 2005, Rahbari was appointed as the Permanent Conductor of the Tehran Symphony Orchestra. However, his patience with lack of support and resources within the Iranian music and arts community there soon ran out. Just four months after his appointment, Rahbari made a public address to the audience during a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, disclosing the meager salaries of Iranian musicians and calling for the instatement of basic human rights. He closed with a declaration that he would no longer conduct in Iran until "musicians are respected once again."

There are 110 Alexander Rahbari recordings available.

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