Assyrian records; From rare Assyrian 78 rpm shellac records to vinyl 45 & 33 rpms
By: Amir Mansour
Assyrian records are very hard to find records because of very few titles and their limited copies. What a researcher of music history in Middle East or an Ethnomusicologist can find on internet and especially Wikipedia is weak, incomplete and none documented. Beside this fact and many copy-paste experts, you can find some real and serious young researchers who are always trying to find new facts and discover mint oceans of data.
The first known records to me belong to late 20’s on Baidaphon, Columbia and then His Master’s Voice 78 rpm records to some EPs, LPs and singles recorded, produced or reproduced in Iran, Iraq, USA and Australia.
The rarest Assyrian record that the author has found is B 090379 (code Eabz) on Baidaphon label recorded in Tehran and produced in Germany in 1928 by “Madam Soubro Tvanaya” who there is no info of her life and works except the name of two records by her. There are some recordings by Madam Blanche in Kurdish and Turkish may be Assyrian ones between them.
Murassa’ khanom (مرصع خانم) or Madam Muresa Daniels (1906 – 1980) had recorded 12 tracks for Columbia Graphophone Company in New York in December 1929 accompaniment Mr. J. Alexander on Tar. These records are in 42000-F and 82000-F series for 10 and 12 inches Columbia records. Her first 12” record (82001-F) is a song named “Urmes Urmes” maybe to remember “Urmi” her home town in Iran. According to text on labels, the language of record 82001-F is “Persian” and 82002-F is “Persian – Assyrian”. According to Michael Kinnear’s book (The Gramophone Company Persian Recordings: 1899-1934), the total number of recordings by Murassa khanom, Mr. J. Alexandre and other Iranians in this session is 24 sides.
There is an uncompleted list of Persian- Assyrian records in page 2519 of "Ethnic Music on Records, Vol: 5" containing 6 sides by Murassa' Khanom (Columbia 42008-F, 82000-F & 82001-F) and 2 sides by J. Alexander (Columbia 42006-F) and the place of recording is mentioned "Chicago".
(For more info of Morassa’ khanom and her family, see: http://www.qeenatha.com/viewprofile.php?id=3872 )
In 1937, some Assyrian 78s were produced in Dum Dum- India for His Master’s Voice, between some Kurdish recordings. The matrix numbers are “OMD 300” series although the Kurdish record numbers are 11000 series and the Assyrian ones are 12000 series. OMD 310 and OMD 311 are two sides of HMV- N12002 performed by “Gabriel Yousef” (1914 – 1995).
(For more info of Gabriel yousef or Gabriel Yusip Sayad, see: ???)
Jamil Bashir and his orchestra were participated in some Iraqi and Kurdish recordings for Columbia in early 50’s, produced in Pakistan on Columbia blue labels. (See Columbia GIA142, vocal: Abdul Aziz Mohammad)
Assyrian 33 rpm vinyl LPs
Most of Assyrian LPs are introduced in different websites and here, more discographical data, photos and documents will come to your reach.
William Daniels (1903 – 1988):
**Kal-d’alma Records: (10”LP)
Mainly was formed by Iran born musicians like Vania David (composer), Meesha Ashurian (lyrics), Robert Ibrahimi, Simon Essa, Clara Nassara, Geevargis Manphy, George Sarvanus and other singers. They have released “Assyrian folk songs” as a LP about 1975 in USA, most of their songs were previously released as 45 rpm vinyl records in 60’s and early 70’s in Iran.
Ashur Sargis participated in “Hy Stars” band as guitar player beside “Bijan Azarmi” and three Armenian artists like “Eddie Petrossian” (vocal & drums), “Arshag Hintyrian” and “Mihran Kassabian” and the band released an album titled “Kars”. He released his own album, “Ashur Sargis sings for ancient songs” in 1975.
“Khobed Atour” is one of the first albums by George Chaharbakhshi (see: label) who was born in Tehran in 1952. The composer is “Sargon Mayelian” who was born in Kermanshah (Iran) in 1932 and participated in recordings of some singles by playing banjo or mandolin.
(For more info of George Chaharbakhshi see his official website or http://www.qeenatha.com/GeorgeChaharbakhshi)
Evimac (Evin) Aghassi:
There are photos and data of Evin’s albums on his official website and here, I just mention some details of what was in my reach.
Composer: Evin, lyrics: Givergiss Aghassi, arrangements: Hamlet Minassian (see doc.)
(For more info of Evin Aghassi, see: ???)
Assyrian 45 rpm vinyls
What I have ever found as the rarest Assyrian 45 rpm vinyl records are two records. The first is an interesting instrumental performance of “Sheikhani” by “Soren”, “Sargon” and “Nikol Alvandi” on Iranian “Ahang” label which was produced in Germany in 1958/9. The other is recorded in Iraq by “Diamond Band” and made for “Caravan Records” in Germany too. Matrix numbers of both are similar and it shows the date of production must be very near to each other.
In early 60’s, the first single by Shamiram distributed by Iran Gram and another Assyrian song, named “Shara” came to the market by “Narmella” who became a famous singer in Farsi pop songs for mid 60’s. Also Iran Gram has produced on its 3865/3866 matrix number a special label named “Semiramis”, directed by “Simon Amirkhas” for an Assyrian song accompaniment J. Jones orchestra.
“Ashur Gramآشور گرام ” was an Assyrian label and records of 60’s and 70’s are seen on this label;
Ashur Gram 4486 (of late 60’s): “The bride of these years”, Maestro Peterson on guitar
Ashur Gram (of 70’s): Two songs by Robert and Clara, composer: Vania David, Lyrics: Iramia Sleiva
“Ashur Musicآشور موزيك ” was another Assyrian label and songs by Evin Aghassi and lyrics of Daniel Benjamin is seen on this label.
“Forooshgah e Karoonفروشگاه كارون ” or “Karoon store” was a label for most of Assyrian 45 rpm records containing pop, folk and reproducing of Assyrian songs mainly recorded in abroad especially in Iraq. Most of Karoon vinyl records were pressed in Royal factory in Tehran and the links show some of them:
“Oriental” was a label of “Ahang e Rooz” company and produced Arabic, Indian, Azeri and Afghani 45 rpm records to export. Just one single “Bratedkookha & Maria” by Dariush Saatloo (singer) and Khodabakhsh (composer) is still found on this label.
Very few Assyrian records have been found on other Iranian labels like the EP for “Kohan Store”. The most famous song which has several performances by many Iranian artists is “Sheikhani” reng (dance).
“Bashirphone” was an Iraqi label belonged to “Jemil Bashir” mainly for 45 rpm vinyl.
“Semiramis”, “Ashur Gram” and “Ashur Music” are mentioned Assyrian 45 rpm labels in Iran.
In late 60’s and early 70’s, there was another Assyrian label in Iran named “Top 20” to reproduce western pop and rock music. Their Cross logo and fixed picture of Woodstock for their back sleeves were two main indicators of these records. In fact, there was a program in “Tehran Radio II” with the same name for a Persian chart and Top20 records was a reproducing of them beside a pocket book quarterly with the same name containing chart, lyrics and their translation to Persian which was published by “Amirkhas”. The quarterly was published just one year and its four issues are very hard to find. (More pictures in 45s page of www.persiandiscography.com)
Last updated: October 2012