Master Ali Akbar Mehdipour Dehkordi may not be known by many Iranians, but all of them celebrate New Year and Nowruz by listening to his joyful Surnay music. This piece of music was played and recorded in Tehran about twenty-six years ago for the first time. Later it was given to Iran radio station.
Ever since then, this short piece is known as the music of the Iranian New Year. Along with Nowruznameh, it has been registered as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO. According to his Id certificate, Ali Akbar Dehkordi was born in 1314 SH in Dehkord (now Shahrekord). But he has said that his birthday was actually 1309 SH. Both his parents were from Dehkord. He began learning the instrument Surnay when he was fourteen. He learned it by himself, and was not educated by a master. He did not come from a musical family. On the contrary, his mother seriously objected playing the instrument, and his father was a muezzin in the Jame Masjid. Later he worked with two great players of Karnay named Heidar Shah Naderi Ashkafti and Hossein Heidari Surshajani for many years. He learned to play Kamancheh under Mohammad Toghiyan, a skillful player. After playing in a television series called Bachehaye Aabadi in 1365 SH, he seriously pursued playing Surnay.
During his seventy-four-year long life, Ali Akbar Dehkordi experienced different jobs such as building, making kilns, and farming. He eventually earned his living through music. He became a frequent festival player as soon as he entered his first local and international festival. He was chosen as the face of the year by the Fajr International Music Festival in 1368 SH.
He gained more international fame when he performed in countries such as Germany, Canada, France, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Mongolia, United Arabic Estates, Japan, Turkey, Kuwait and Hong Kong. As his second experience in television, he played in the series Ruzi Ruzegari under the supervision of Farhad Fakhredini. Ali Akbar Dehkordi lived in a region close to both Bakhtiar and Turk clan. He also had relationships with Shiraz artists. These have led for his works to become unique and combined. His Turkish tone can be heard in his Karnay and his Shiraz inspiration is heard in his Surnay. He has also put the abilities of Surnay into use in the traditional Radif music of Iran. He has written ninety texts on playing these instruments. He passed away in Bahman 1388 SH at the age of seventy-four. He was buried in the artists’ section of Shahrekord cemetery.