The Gāthās 

for Piano

Artwork: Raphael (1509-1511); The School of Athens (detail).
Instrumentation: Piano
Total duration so far: 20'
Date: 2018-2019Location: New York, New York, USA

The ongoing series, "The Gāthās for Piano," is a collection of compositions where the rhythmic and metric structure is meticulously derived and developed from the language of Zarathustra's homonymous book of poems, "The Gāthās." The language Gāthic, or Old Avestan, belongs to the ancient Persian language group, specifically a sub-group of Eastern families within the Indo-European languages. Presently, three pieces have been composed, each based on three stanzas from Zarathustra's 17 profound and thought-provoking songs, totaling 238 stanzas and around 6000 words. Originating almost 4000 years ago, these songs are enduring cultural treasures, maintaining their original freshness and surprising modernity. The Gathas' language, associated with the Aryan group of Iranian languages spoken in the East of the Iranian highlands, shows grammatical structures suggesting an origin older by several centuries than Sanskrit. Composed in five different metric patterns following Indo-Iranian forms, the Gathas stand as the foundational teachings of Zarathustra, influencing not only all Iranian languages but also numerous European languages. These songs played a pivotal role in shaping the Zoroastrian doctrine within the Persian Empire from the 6th to the 3rd century BC. They contributed to the existential philosophy of this vast empire led by figures like Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. Cyrus, who left a lasting legacy with the world's first "Charter of Human Rights" (now housed in the British Museum), was a devoted Zoroastrian himself. The 17 songs are categorized into five significant sections, with the initial one named Ahunavaiti Gāthā. This particular section comprises 100 stanzas, each consisting of 3 verses and following a meter of 7+9 syllables. 

Ahunavaiti Gāthā no.1, stanza III was dedicated to virtuoso pianist Dr Jonathan Powell, in honour of his 50th birthday, by whom it was premiered at NeoArte Festival, in Gdansk, Poland, on 26 October 2019. He performed this composition also at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague's Music Faculty (HAMU), Czech Republic, on 15 November 2019, at Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland, on 5 March 2020, and again in the Czech Republic, in Setkávání Nové Hudby Plus (New Music Encounters Plus), at Janáček Academy (JAMU) of Brno, on 8 December 2020 (second video below). Powell will perform this piece at St Hilda's College, University of Oxford, on 13 January, and at the Royal Academy of Music, London, on 19 January, 2024.

Ahunavaiti Gāthā no.1, stanzas I & II were dedicated to Dr Jared Redmond, by whom they were premiered at the San Francisco Center for New Music, in California, on 15 February 2019, and at Hanyang University, in Seoul, South Korea, on 3 June 2019.

Saman Samadi - Ahunavaiti Gāthā no.1, stanza I.pdf
Saman Samadi - Ahunavaiti Gāthā no.1, stanza II.pdf


Ahunavaiti Gāthā, stanza III, Jonathan Powell, pianist.

JANUARY 13, 2024. St Hilda's College, University of Oxford, UK.

JANUARY 19, 2024. Royal Academy of Music, LONDON, UK.

DECEMBER 8, 2020. Meetings of New Music, Janáček Academy (JAMU), BRNO, THE CZECH REPUBLIC.

MARCH 5, 2020. Queen’s University, BELFAST, IRELAND.

NOVEMBER 15, 2019. The Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (HAMU), PRAGUE, THE CZECH REPUBLIC.

OCTOBER 26, 2019. NeoArte Festival, GDANSK, POLAND.

Ahunavaiti Gāthā, stanzas I & II, Jared Redmond, pianist.

JUNE 3, 2019. Hanyang University, SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA.

FEBRUARY 15, 2019. The San Francisco Center for New Music, SAN FRANCISCO, USA.


Saman Samadi, Ahunavaiti Gāthā, stanza III, performed and recorded by Jonathan Powell (Prague: HAMU, 2019).

Saman Samadi, Ahunavaiti Gāthā, stanzas I & II, performed and recorded by Jared Redmond (Seoul: Hangyang, 2019).