Iranian composer, teacher and setar player was born on 22 September 1937 at Abadeh in Fars Province, studying initially with his father and brother. At thirteen he began studies with Ruhollah Khaleghi and Musa Khan Maroufi at the National School for Iranian Music, and in 1967 studied setar with Noor Ali Boroumand and Daryoush Saffat in the Fine Arts department of Tehran University.
With singer Shahram Nazeri he founded the first ever ensemble consisting only of setar players. Later, in the 1980s, Nazeri and Zolfonun's album Gol-e Sadbarg became the best selling album of classical Iranian music ever, and from the least popular instrument in Iran, the setar suddenly became the most popular.
Besides composing and teaching Persian music, Zolfonun also wrote the book Setar Playing / Teaching Method and he toured in Europe, the USA, Canada and Japan.
Following a two-week hospitalisation for heart failure, Jalal Zolfonun died in Karaj, near Tehran, on 18 March 2012.