Oregon Folklife Network

Hossein Salehi

2016-2017 TAAP AWARDEE

Traditional skill/art/craft: Santoor playing

Ethnic Background: Persian

2016-2017 Apprentice: Amitis Moradkhani

Contact Information

E-mail: hossein.salehi@comcast.net

Describe your traditional skill/craft/art, when and why it is done, and your history with it.

Santoor is one of the most important instruments which has been used in traditional Persian music for over 1100 years. I am fortunate enough to have learned this unique instrument since my childhood and continued developing my skills during the last 61 years of my life. It has also been my pleasure to teach my hard-earned skills to over 1000 students during the last 50 years. My whole purpose was to train more people familiar with this unique form of Persian instrument in order to keep it alive. Students with Persian background will feel more confident by accessing their traditional cultural aspects.

How and from whom was the tradition learned?

At age seven, I started learning the principles of this form of traditional art from my father, Maestro Abbas Salehi. Later he registered me at a more specialized intermediate music class in Tehran and eventually advanced classes.

Why is this cultural tradition important to your community?

This type of instrument was unknown in Oregon and throughout the United States, and fellow Iranians/Americans did not have access to their heritage. I committed myself to creating opportunities for others to learn this art form in Oregon and in even in other states. My small, private lessons soon led to large annual recitals, local performances, and to my delight, former students who are now teachers.

Artist Biography

In 1987, when my family and I migrated to the United States, I was unable to bring my instrument and purchasing one here in Oregon was not an option; it simply did not exist. Homesick, and with the help of a friend with a talent for woodworking, I built my first Santoor. I was invited to present advance applied music course at PSU for two years 2012 and 2013 where I passed on my unique techniques to one of my highest quality students Monica Rabii. She was the very first graduate from PSU with bachelor degree on special instrument "Santoor". This unprecedented event was the utmost fulfilling event in my artistic life.


In 1993 I was awarded as a Persian Master Artists by the Oregon Historical Society

In 2002 I was recognized as a Master Artist in Persian Music by the Andisheh Center

In 2005 I was interviewed by and featured in Oregon Art Beat by Oregon Public Broadcasting

Since 2006 I have taught at annual seminars of Dulcimer Players of the United States and presented santoor and traditional Persian music.