Ancient Persia, as one of biggest empires of classical antiquity and one of the oldest civilizations in history, gave rise to a culture as rich and fine as its gold-inlaid hand-woven carpets. Different Iranian ethnicities unified under the rule of Cyrus the Great, lived and flourished, each adding a hue to the cultural tapestry of their country. Craftsmen, artists and others of their ilk created wondrous works of infinite beauty and finesse, thus laying the basis for the towering figures of Iranian culture in the following ages. Literature and music were two spheres that drew riches from this bottomless cultural well.
Any one remotely acquainted with the world of literature knows about the Apollonian status of Iranian poetry. Iranian poets from Rudaki and Ferdowsi to Hafiz, Saadi and Rumi have created verse which is technically supreme in form and unfathomably profound in content. The tradition of great poets has continued to the modern age by such radical figures as Nima Yushij, Forugh Farrokh Zad and Ahmad Shamlu who brought forth a sea of change in the poetics of literature and classical forms of versification. To compete with their poetical counterparts, Iranian fiction authors have created notable works in a wide array of styles and genres. Saadegh Hedayat whose Blind Owl is widely read and praised and Mahmoud Dolatabaadi, the writer of Kalidar, the longest epic in Iranian literature are just two names in a long list of Iranian novelists. Theatre has been a key medium of art through Iranian history. Classical Iranian performing arts include the forms of Naqqāli, Ta’zieh, Ru Howzi and Siah Bazi which have deep roots in Iranian culture. The most resonant names in Iranian modern theatre are Bahram Beyzayi, Akbar Raadi and Abbas Nalbandian, whose plays brought Iranian tradition and mythology into a modern light.
Iranians have contributed to the world of music both in theory and practice. Some of the greatest Iranian philosophers such as Avicenna and Farabi, have written profusely on music. Abd al-Qadir Marageyi who lived in 14th century, is considered as one of the earliest musicologists in history. Later generations of composers and performers developed the art of their predecessors into what is known as Dastgahi music. Mohammad Reza Shajarian, Shahram Nazeri and Hossein Alizadeh are some of the world-famous masters of Dastgahi music. Iranian have also been among the first nations in the Middle-East to assimilate and excel in western classical music. Alireza Mashayekhi, Ahmad Pezhman, Ali Rahbari, Reza Vali and Behzad Ranjbaran are some of the Iranian musicians who have combined their deep knowledge of western music with Iranian music and have created imperishable instrumental and orchestral compositions.