By: Pejman Akbarzadeh, 2004 English Translation by: Ali Mehran
Farzaneh Navai (Soltani) was the most prominent Persian harpist, who lived for many years in Austria, passed away in May 2004 of cancer in a hospital in the city of Bregenz.
Farzaneh was born in 1956. In 1967, she began to study the harp (known to the Persians as "Chang") at the Tehran Conservatory of Music. Upon receiving her diploma, she went on a scholarship to Austria.
She studied at the Vienna Music Academy and later at the National Conservatory of Music in Paris. Concurrent with her studies in France, in September 1978, Farzaneh performed with the NIRT (Iranian National Radio and Television) Chamber Orchestra - conducted by Iradj Sahbai - at the City Theatre of Tehran. In 1979, she returned to Persia.
She taught harp at the Tehran Conservatory and performed with the Tehran Symphony Orchestra, but for various reasons her residence in Iran was not to last more than a year. Upon marrying Khosrow Soltani, they returned to Austria. The performance of the score for the play, "Lubiyayeh Sehramiz" (Magic Bean), which went on stage during Nowrouz 1359/March 1980, was among her joint performances with her husband in her homeland.
After immigrating to Europe, the couple was active in Vienna's music scene. In 1983, upon moving to the state of Vorarlberg in western Austria, they began to teach at various music schools.
Concurrent with her teaching, Farzaneh performed countless recitals and concerts with other Persian (Iranian) soloists who lived in that region and its neighboring states (such as Firoozeh Navai, Mehdi Djamei, Hossein Samieian and Saeed Taqaddosi).
Repeatedly, encouraged by Persian composers, she planned to release a CD of Persian compositions for the harp but this project never materialized. In one of her last letters to me, Farzaneh wrote: "I have suggested this project to many composers since twenty-five years ago. So far, I must have suggested it to everyone, but either nothing was done, or, if something was done, it was left incomplete. Unfortunately, we Iranians lack resolve."
In the year 2000, two CDs of Farzaneh Navai were released in Europe, in which she has expertly performed works by Marcel Gerandjani and Camille Saint-Saens (harp solo), in addition to accompanying Saeed Taqaddosi (flute) and Khosrow Soltani (panpipes) in European folk and classical compositions.
Her last performances appear in her husband's latest CD entitled, "Mahur-e Kabir", which was released in Europe. In this work, for the first time, Farzaneh attempted to perform Persian melodies on the Western harp. During the years following the 1979 revolution, Farzaneh studied the tar and Persian classical music with Houshang Zarif, who had taken up residence in Vienna. In this work she attempted to blend what she had learned from both Persian and Western music.
Farzaneh Navai left two talented children, Kian and Sara.