Golha (radio programmes)
The Golha radio programmes (Flowers of Persian Song and Poetry) comprise 1578 radio programmes consisting of approximately 847 hours of programmes broadcast over a period of 23 years from 1956 through 1979.
These programmes are made up of literary commentary with the declamation of poetry, which is sung with musical accompaniment, interspersed with solo musical pieces. For the 23 years that these programmes were broadcast, all the most eminent literary critics, famous radio announcers, singers, composers and musicians in Iran were invited to participate in them.
The programmes were exemplars of excellence in the sphere of music and refined examples of literary expression, making use of a repertoire of over 250 classical and modern Persian poets, setting literary and musical standards that are still looked up to with admiration in Iran today and referred to by scholars and musicians* as an encyclopedia of Persian music and Persian poetry. They marked a watershed in Persian culture, following which music and musicians gained respectability. Heretofore, music had been practised behind closed doors. Where performed in public spaces, the performers had been tarred with the same brush as popular street minstrels. Until the advent of these programmes, it had been taken for granted that any female performers and musicians were less than respectable. Due to the high literary and musical quality of these programmes, public perception of music and musicians in Iran shifted, its participants came to be consideredvirtually for the first time in Persian history of the Islamic periodas maestros, virtuosos, divas and adepts of a fine art, and no longer looked down upon as cabaret singers or denigrated as street minstrels.
During the initial years of the Iranian Revolution, when the verse and song of the great Persian poets were considered to be counter-revolutionary, such that music was completely banned and recitation of manny Persian poets frowned upon, the participants in the Golha programmes sought refuge in the privacy of their homes. Since the Islamic Republic had forced many of the great musicians to suppress their artistic inclinations and aspirations, many of them went into internal exile or fled abroad. Today, many of them are still banned from performing in Iran , and the female artists are prohibited from performing for mixed audiences.
In general, the Golha programmes should be considered to be a veritable audio treasury of the history of traditional Persian Music. Considering the incredible efforts that went into producing these programmes and their strong influence on society, they are still considered today to be the best resource for our music. It is very appropriate and important that these programmes be preserved and passed on to future generations.
Homayoun Khorram, The Clamor of the Stars (Ghugha-yi sitaragan), Farhang va Pazhuhish, Special Issue on Music, No. 197 (August 2005), p. 20.
Listen to some editions of the Golha program from Ostad Javad Ma'roufi's Official Website
The Golha radio programmes (Flowers of Persian Song and Poetry), Mrs Jane Lewisohn, SOAS, University of London 2006 Award — Major research project, Endangered Archives, British Library.