The “Great Four” of Arabic Music
Of the many illustrious musicians and singers to rise to stardom in the Arab world, only four are considered by many to be “The Greats.” These musicians and singers broke ground not only with their musical styles, but also in their social influences. They all rose to fame at roughly the same time—between the 1930s and 1960s—when Egypt and the Arab world faced the political and social challenges of revolution, independence, and the creation of Israel.
Umm Kulthum: Star of the East
Most Arabs agree that Umm Kulthum was, and continues to be, one of the greatest, if not the greatest, singers of the Arab world. Her music has touched millions of people throughout the region. Even today, over 30 years after her passing in 1975, her music can be found everywhere throughout her home country of Egypt and beyond.
Star of the East
She is often referred to as kawkab ash-sharq, or “Star of the East” in Arabic. Biographer Virginia Danielson—whose work, The Voice of Egypt: Umm Kulthūm, Arabic Song, and Egyptian Society in the Twentieth Century, is the best English-language book on Umm Kulthum’s life—notes that Umm Kulthum’s career spanned two world wars, the Egyptian Revolutions of 1919 and 1952, the Great Depression and the sociopolitical changes of the 1950s and 1960s. These events that not only affected Umm Kulthum herself but “commanded the attention of her listeners.” Danielson also says that Umm Kulthum was constantly identified as “a truly Egyptian artist.” ¹
Biographer Virginia Danielson says birth records cite Umm Kulthum’s birthday as May 4, 1904, in the Daqahliyya province on the Nile river delta in Egypt. Her father was the imām (leader) of the local mosque, and her mother was a housewife. She had a brother who was one year younger than her and a sister who was ten years older.
At age five, Umm Kalthum, whose birth name was Fatima ʾIbrahim as-Sayyid al-Biltagi, began her education in the local Qur’anic schools, which primarily emphasized the memorization of the Qur’an. Here she learned proper enunciation and pronunciation of Qur’anic Arabic, as well as the art of its recitation. Recitation of the Qur’an holds a central place in Egyptian culture, as well as throughout the Muslim world. Umm Kulthum’s exceptional skill in reciting the Qur’an, as well as the maqāmāt in which it is recited, would later contribute immensely to her mass appeal as a singer. ²
Her father supplemented his income from working as an imām with singing religious songs at weddings and other special occasions. Umm Kulthum listened and imitated him as he practiced and taught the songs to her brother. In addition to listening to her father and brother, the young Umm Kulthum listened to phonograph records. She learned the songs as the commercial recording industry was established in Egypt and records and players became affordable. ³
She made her debut when she was between five and eight years old and quickly began performing with her father and brother.⁴ Her early audiences recognized that she was reared among the shaykhs, the religious leaders of her community,⁵ as her vocal quality was not that of an ordinary singer. People in nearby cities asked her father to bring her to local parties to sing. Her youth and exceptionally strong voice made her quite an attraction. She, her father, and brother soon traveled throughout the delta to perform. She was often able to earn in one performance half the equivalent of her father’s monthly wage at the mosque.⁶
After gaining a local reputation as a singer, many people encouraged her and her family to move to Cairo, where the entertainment industry was booming.⁷ In the early 1920s, an elite family in Cairo, the Abd al-Raziqs, invited Umm Kalthum to sing for the women in their home; the women, so impressed by Umm Kulthum’s voice, sent the singer into the men’s parlor where she left them in awe.⁸
Establishing as a Performer
Through the Abd al-Raziq family, Umm Kulthum secured a number of additional performances at weddings, in theaters, benefit concerts, and in the homes of other wealthy patrons in Cairo. She had established herself as a performer in Cairo by 1922, and her family moved to Cairo permanently.⁹
In the 1920s, resentment of European, specifically British, presence in Egypt was growing. After centuries of Ottoman rule until the 19th century, then French and British occupation and control in the late 19th and early 20th century, Egyptians of all social classes began seeking music, entertainments, and other elements of life that were quintessentially Egyptian, or ‘asil, meaning “authentic.” Yet they wanted what was modern as well. Danielson notes that during this search, the people and practices of the shaykhs, in which Umm Kulthum had been raised, “came to represent local values, historically Egyptian culture, and the authentic.” ¹⁰
In Cairo, Umm Kulthum sang a variety of song types. Included were the adwār performed at the mawlid (saints’ days) celebrations and light-hearted ṭaqaṭīq that often focused on love. The burgeoning commercial recording industry proved to be quite valuable for Umm Kulthum. She signed a contract with Odeon Records in 1923. The company released fourteen of her recordings between 1924 and 1926 and sold more than 15,000 copies in three months.
Building an Audience
Her recordings helped build her audience and secure her performance engagements outside the realm of middle-class concert-going Egyptians. In 1926, she left Odeon and signed with the larger Gramophone Records. She began to commission new musical compositions to which older poems would be set. She also sought formal musical training. Her father hired an instructor from the “Oriental Music Club”—which, at the time, did not admit women—to teach her composition, the classical muwashshahat musical form, and how to play the ‘ud. She could memorize a musical phrase after only hearing it once.
Also in 1926, she hired her own ensemble, a takht that included some of the most accomplished musicians in Cairo. Accordingly, this gave her music a dramatic increase in sophistication and modernity. In addition, this change signaled a significant artistic change for a shaykh’s daughter who had previously been perceived as a fellaḥa or bedouin girl from the countryside.¹¹ Having her own ensemble allowed her a new freedom she had not had previously, and she sought to expand her audience.
The Romantic Approach
It was at this time she took a romantic approach to her music, using the dūr musical form (see chapter 4), usually in colloquial, rather than classical, Arabic. She also worked with composer Muhammad al-Qasabji, whose experimental style included harmony (previously unused in classical Arabic music) and European influences. His compositions contributed to the creation of the ughnīyya, a new musical genre in the 1930s, which Umm Kulthum used quite often throughout her career.
Rise of the Orchestra
At this time, the smaller takhts evolved into larger orchestral ensembles, partially because of the popularity of Western instrumentation in films. Umm Kulthum integrated several string instruments into her personal orchestra, including bass, cello, and violins. These instruments could easily be adapted to maqāmāt because they can play microtones.¹²
Also in the 1930s, Umm Kulthum began broadcasting her public concerts on the radio on the first Thursday of each month. They could last as long as three hours and were important social events for those who attended in person as well as those who listened to them on the radio. Until 1966, her concerts, beginning at 9:30 p.m. and lasting well past midnight, included three songs with intermissions of thirty minutes to an hour long.
Listeners throughout the Arab world who could not attend her live performances, sat in homes, coffeehouses, or wherever they could to listen to the radio. She became known as the “Voice of Egypt.” Indeed, as her popularity grew, she was invited to record songs for other Arab countries. Examples include two songs for Kuwaiti National Day in the 1960s and an anthem for Iraq.¹³
In the 1940s, she appeared in six movies in which she was able to showcase her versatile vocal skills, while, as Danielson says, “portraying an entertaining yet virtuous daughter of the Arabs.” Her most famous roles include that of Sallama, in the movie of the same name, in which she sang “Ghanili Shwayya Shwayya,” a muwashshah, and a religious mawwāl.
She made her final film appearance in Fatma in 1947, when she was already in her mid-40s and could no longer convincingly portray a younger woman. She was also never a trained or professional actress, and the bright lights of the movie sets might have deteriorated her eyesight, causing her to wear her now-famous sunglasses.¹⁴
Expanding the Repertoire
Also in the 1940s, Riad al-Sunbati wrote more songs for her. After 1946, she never sang another song by her former composer, al-Qasabji. Al-Qasabji did, however, remain a close personal friend of Umm Kulthum’s until his death in 1966. Al-Sunbati composed many songs for her in the qasa’id style (see below), which she had requested. In these he wrote difficult melodies that only a singer as experienced as Umm Kulthum could perform. He wrote for larger musical ensembles, including seven or eight violins and other Western string instruments.
In the late 1960s, he used electric guitars and organs, unprecedented in Arabic music at the time. However, he did not deviate from traditional musical forms or maqāmāt. His style established al-Sunbati as Umm Kulthum’s principle composer and most “formidable master of the genre in the Arab world.” ¹⁵
The qasa’id were generally seen as religious or moralistic songs. Despite several of her colleagues warning her against using poetry of that style, she felt that her background as a religious chanter would cause many Egyptians to respond positively. She was correct, and Egyptian Radio played her qasa’id quite often for over ten years after their initial performances. For this reason, many scholars consider her to be the singer who “taught poetry to the masses.”
Her manner of dress also contributed to her widespread popularity. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Umm Kulthum always dressed modestly when performing in public. Her dresses almost always had sleeves, high necklines, and followed Egyptian ideals of modesty. She had eschewed head coverings. However, she did keep her hair in some sort of bun or up-do, which helped her relate to her audience of mostly working-class Egyptians.¹⁶
After the Egyptian coup of 1952, which had deposed the British vassal King Farouq, Umm Kulthum recorded numerous songs in support of the new republic. At this time, too, she and then-president Gamal Abdel Nasser fostered a lasting friendship and partnership. Nasser, leader of the Arab nationalism movement, recognized the reach and power of Umm Kulthum’s music, even though she has also had the support of the deposed king.¹⁷
In 1967, Egypt suffered military defeat against Israel. Umm Kulthum toured throughout the Arab world, and donated the proceeds of her concerts to the Egyptian government.¹⁸ In fact, according to Danielson, between 1952 and 1960s, Umm Kulthum sang more national songs than any other period of her life.
Collaboration with Baligh Hamdi
In the 1950s, Umm Kulthum’s repertoire expanded to include more love songs. She sought different composers and studied the style of several before approaching them in regards to collaboration. She contacted Baligh Hamdi in 1957. After the success of their collaboration on “Enta Feen wa al-Hubbi Feen” (“Where Are You and Where Is Love?”), Baligh Hamdi wrote a new song for Umm Kulthum every year until 1974. His songs for her are not considered to be as deep as some by other composers. His songs were commercial successes and some are now considered classic pieces of Umm Kulthum’s repertoire.
Her songs spoke to Arabs, and specifically Egyptians, on a personal level as well.¹⁹ People hear their own stories within Umm Kulthum’s songs. Her use of Arabic poems, sung not in regional dialects but in the classical Arabic language, gave her music an ability to cut across regions within the Arab world. Also, because her songs were primarily about love and loss, many listeners hear their own stories within the lyrics. One man interviewed in the film Umm Kulthum: A Voice Like Egypt commented that one song of hers resonated with him perfectly because of his own personal relationship woes.
Her songs often began with instrumentals, mostly because of the influence of al-Qasabji and, later, the great composer and singer Mohammad Abdel Wahhab, and later compositions included long sections between the sung verses. Danielson notes that many innovations happened in these instrumental sections, often featuring Western musical styles and dance-like passages.²⁰ These instrumental passages became popular for belly dancing after Sohair Zaki began performing to them in the 1960s.
1964 heralded her first collaboration with Abdel Wahhab, when she performed “Enta Omri.” The event resulted in “unprecedented press coverage,”. Even today, many consider this song to be one of Umm Kulthum’s greatest. His songs for her included a modern sensibility not found in her earlier work, such as Arabic and Western dance rhythms, American jazz styles, and even American folk dance.²¹
She gave her last public concert in December 1972, when she performed Abdel Wahhab’s “Laylat Hubb” (“Love Night”) while struggling with health problems.²² When she died in 1975 at the age of 70, four million people poured into the streets of Cairo to mourn her passing.²³
Umm Kulthum is still considered to be the greatest singer in Egyptian history. She promoted traditional Arab music and was known for her moving renditions of neoclassical poetry.²⁴ Her origins as a reciter of the Qur’an and a daughter of the countryside endeared her greatly to the Egyptian masses. She, along with Abdel Wahhab, was decorated with the Order of Merit by the Egyptian government in 1960.²⁵
Her music didn’t just resonate with Arabs on a personal level. Umm Kulthum’s songs spoke to the Egyptian people, as well as to Arabs throughout the Middle East, on a political level. Although on the surface the lyrics were about love and loss, many of her songs had underlying political and nationalist themes. These spoke to the Egyptian people at a time of burgeoning Arab nationalism and anti-colonial sentiment.
Power of Lyrics
Her song “Al-Atlal” (“The Ruins”), composed by Riad al-Sunbati, with a climatic line of “Give me my freedom, set free my hands!” was first interpreted as an allegory for Nasser’s oppressive government, but after Israel’s defeat of Egypt in 1967 took on a wider meaning for the Arab world.
One line of another classical Arabic poem she had sung earlier translates to “Not through hope will the prize be obtained, the world must be taken through struggle,” which became the motto of nascent uprisings against British occupation in the early 1960s. Danielson says that lines of her songs originally interpreted as love lyrics were reinterpreted as political in the late 1960s: “the sense of love lost extended to loss of land, national status, and international dignity.” ²⁶
It is also possible that Umm Kulthum’s training in Qur’an recitation and her insistence on using traditional Arabic instruments and maqāmāt in her songs may have engendered a sense of pride in Arabic culture, which contributed to the rise of Egyptian nationalism. Umm Kulthum’s legacy lives on through song, radio, and now even the internet. Her songs have made a lasting impression on people throughout the Arab world, as well as anyone who has studied Arabic music.
Mohammad Abdel Wahhab: A Musical Innovator
Mohammad Abdel Wahhab was perhaps the most prominent composer in the Arab world in the 20th century. Scholar Anne K. Rasmussen claims that he is considered the most important Arab male performer of the 20th century. Furthermore, his compositional innovations helped modernize the style, instrumentation, and form of Arabic music.²⁷ Abdel Wahhab wrote songs for some of the most famous Egyptian singers of his time. These included Abdel Halim Hafez and Najat al-Saghira, as well as numerous film scores.
He was born in 1907, in the Bab Ash-Shaariya area of Cairo in Egypt, and had a talent for music even at an early age. Preeminent scholar on Arab music, Ali Jihad Racy, says that Abdel Wahhab recounted that he often missed school because he frequently gathered the neighborhood children together and sang for them. When the schoolmaster informed his father of his truancy, his father spanked him. However, Abdel Wahhab’s musical inclinations never abated.²⁸
As a child, he also showed an interest in musical theater in Cairo, and he appeared in a local theater where he sang between scenes. Soon after, he began performing on more prestigious stages in downtown Cairo, building a reputation as a successful singer and actor with a handsome face and excellent voice.
In the 1920s, the celebrated poet Ahmed Shawki took Abdel Wahhab under his wing as a protege. Shawki introduced him to European—mostly French—literary and political circles, where the young Abdel Wahhab was educated in European culture as well as the customs of upper-class society.
Shawki also wrote poetry for Abdel Wahhab to set to music and encouraged him to create innovative musical works.²⁹ His time with Shawki likely fueled his interest in non-Egyptian musical traditions, such as 19th-century European orchestral music and American popular styles.
Abdel Wahhab then became part of Cairo’s burgeoning film industry and starred in six musical films in the 1930s and 1940s. By the 1950s, however, he had retired from performing, both live and on the screen. Instead he chose to compose for many of the top art-music singers in Cairo as well as scoring films.³⁰
In his compositions, he experimented with large Western-style orchestras for his film scores. Beginning as early as the 1920s, he used accordions, slide and steel guitar, clarinet, and saxophone. Ensembles of this size soon became expected for solo singers on the stage, not just on the screen.³¹
He also quoted entire themes from Western classical symphonies by the likes of Ludwig von Beethoven or Pyotr Illych Tchaikovsky.³² His compositional practices themselves were somewhat controversial. For example, he adopted technologies and approaches that significantly altered the character of Arabic music. In addition, he wrote numerous compositions for instrumental ensembles alone (often perceived as overshadowing the singer).
His insertion of Western rhythms into his otherwise Arabic songs drew some consternation. For one example, a waltz features in the song “Al-Gondol” (1941). Then for another example, a rock-and-roll rhythm features in Abdel Halim Hafez’s song “Ya Albi Ya Khali” (1957).
Additionally, his compositions were carefully notated with little, if any, room for improvisation. This was certainly a departure from established Arabic music tradition. Much like the Western composers from whose works he borrowed, Abdel Wahhab expected his works to be performed the same way every time and often conducted his own music in performances.³³
Um Kulthum Collaboration
In the 1960s he stopped singing, but he continued composing. After years of rivalry, he collaborated with Umm Kulthum in 1964 on the now-famous work “Enta Omri” (“You Are My Life”), setting a poem by Ahmad Ramy to music. The work was not without its own innovations. The opening instrumental features an electric guitar.
As most prominent musicians of the mid-20th century, his artistic work was entwined with the political. He composed “Ya Baladi” (“Oh, My Country”), which the Kingdom of Libya had used as a national anthem between 1951 and 1969. Recently, the composition was used by the transitional government in 2011 after the fall of Muammar Qadhafi. He also composed the national anthems of Tunisia (“Humat al-Hima”) and the United Arab Emirates (“Ishi Baladi”). Egyptian President Anwar Sadat awarded him the rank of general for his orchestration of the Egyptian national anthem.³⁴
By the time of his death in 1991, he had written more than a thousand songs and sang over a hundred of them.³⁵ Many of his compositions, as jarring as they might have seemed to traditionalists at the time of their release, are considered classics today.
Farid al-Atrash: King of the ‘Ud
Over the span of four decades, Farid al-Atrash became known throughout the Arab world as a singer, composer, musician, and actor. His sister, Asmahan, also had a successful career as a singer before her early death in a car accident when she was 32 years old.³⁶ Unlike the others of the “Great Four,” he was Druze.³⁷
He was born in 1910 in Syria to a princely family that had been at the forefront of resistance to French occupation of Syria and Lebanon after World War I. His family moved to Cairo when he was a young boy.
Like Umm Kulthum, Muhammad Abdel Wahhab, and Abdel Halim Hafez, Farid al-Atrash showed an affinity and talent for music at an early age. His mother, too, was a musician. She played the ‘ud and sang, and she hoped to capitalize on her own talent while in Cairo.
Farid first sang at school events (biographer and researcher Sherifa Zuhur notes that some sources say that he sang in his Catholic school choir, which would have exposed him to Western and European song styles) and then studied at a music conservatory, becoming an apprentice of Riad al-Sunbati, one of Umm Kulthum’s collaborators.
Also at this time, Egyptian composer and director of Egyptian Radio, Madhat ‘Assim, “discovered” Farid. In the 1930s, he hired him as an ‘ud player and singer. It’s possible that hardship in Farid’s youth—his father divorced his mother after she refused to return to Syria with him, leaving the family without financial support, and several of his siblings had died at early ages from illness and in accidents—influenced the melancholy vocal tone of his singing for which he would later become famous. In the 1930s, Badia Masabni, promoter and entrepreneur, hired Farid to perform at her sāla, the Casino Opera.
In his first successful film, Intisar al-Shabab (“The Triumph of Youth,” 1941), he composed all of the music and appeared alongside his sister, Asmahan. She was already a talented singer and musician in her own right. Until her death, they often worked together.
In the late 1940s, he famously starred in nine films alongside dancer Samia Gamal—whose career on stage and film also began at the Casino Opera. Rumor has it that even though they loved each other, he refused to marry her because she was a dancer. Others claim she did not want to marry him for fear of him denigrating her, perhaps because she was a performer or because she was not Druze herself.³⁸
Farid worked with other female stars and almost always had the romantic lead role of the lonely man; in fact, his characters took the name “Wahid,” meaning “lonely.”
After Asmahan died in 1944, Farid remained unmarried despite his image of being a romantic and alluring man. He influenced later actors and musicians such as Abdel Halim Hafez in the mid-20th century and later pop stars, Hakim and ‘Amr Diab.³⁹ It is said that he claimed to remain a bachelor because he believed that marriage kills art.
Over his lengthy career, his musical styles shifted and changed with the times, from traditional to pop. However, his main instrument had always been the ‘ud. His compositions remained faithful to Arabic music conventions. His improvisations—taqāsīm—captured both on film and recordings, inspired many musicians to imitate his style and playing.⁴⁰
He is credited as the composer of at least 110 songs. He blended both popular and classical Arabic music traditions and recorded over 500 songs in his lifetime. He also appeared in 13 films. While most of his songs were romantic and focused on the subject of love, he also composed some patriotic and religious songs.
Sherifa Zuhur states that through his public performances, he “established the model of the male romantic star […] through his modernization of the role of the bard and his romantic discourse.” She also says that he was able to transcend national boundaries, unlike many Arab Muslim male singers, becoming popular throughout the Arab world, and not only in Syria or where he became a star in Egypt.⁴¹
Farid al-Atrash reportedly suffered from heart problems during the last 30 years of his life. However, he continued to produce films and give concerts until his death. He died in 1974, at the age of 64, in Beirut, having never fulfilled his dream of composing for Umm Kulthum.⁴²
Abdel Halim Hafez: The Dark Nightingale
In addition to Umm Kulthum, Abdel Halim Hafez is one of the most popular singers in the Arab world. His rich voice earned him the nickname “The Dark Nightingale.” Like Umm Kulthum, many of Hafez’s popular songs were composed by Muhammad Abdel Wahhab—most of which were romantic and spoke of love—and he also appeared in several films.
Abdel Halim Hafez was born Abdel Halim Ali Shabana on June 21, 1929, in Halawat in the Nile Delta to a local shaykh. His mother died in childbirth, while his father died only five years later. He moved in with relatives in Cairo, but contracted schistosomiasis⁴³ (often referred to as bilharzia or snail fever), a parasitic disease carried by freshwater worms, from playing in the Nile. This disease would have a grave effect on him for the rest of his life. His musical talents, however, were obvious, even at an early age.⁴⁴ His first music teacher was his elder brother, Ismail Shabana, who was also a singer.⁴⁵
Music Academy in Cairo
In 1940, when he was only 11 years old, he joined the Academy of Arabic Music in Cairo, where he took singing lessons and learned to play the oboe; he graduated from the academy in 1948. As a teenager, he became known among his classmates for singing the songs of Mohammad Abdel Wahhab.⁴⁶
Soon after, he began appearing in nightclubs. His songs were broadcast on the Egyptian national radio station, where he was discovered by a record executive, Hafez Abdel Wahhab; Abdel Halim added “Hafez” to his stage name in honor of the man who helped launch his music career.⁴⁷
Growth in Popularity
In 1952, his popularity grew when he gave public concerts, singing songs composed by the then well-known musician Mohamed El Mogy. But it wasn’t until he sang on the anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution in 1954 that he gained national fame. For over 25 years, he sang nationalistic songs, reflecting political events in Egypt, the aspirations of Egyptians after centuries of foreign rule, and of conflict in the Arab world.
Some referred to him as “Al Jabarti,” which translates to “The Historian.” Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser was a patron of Abdel Halim Hafez, along with other Arab leaders such as the late Tunisian President Habib Bourguiba and King Hassan II of Morocco.⁴⁸
National Singing Sensation
Abdel Halim never married, although some sources say that he might have wed a famous Egyptian star in secret. He was engaged as a young man, but his fiancée died shortly before the marriage,⁴⁹ an event that likely had a great influence on Abdel Halim’s singing.
When he became a national singing sensation, he also became known as a sex symbol of sorts, in the ilk of Elvis Presley, according to Andrew Leonard Hammond in his work on pop culture in the Arab world.⁵⁰ Abdel Halim’s “sympathetic, innocent, and very Egyptian look” made him a model of the perfect lover still cherished by women to this day.⁵¹
Hafez starred in 16 films. Most of these touched on class divisions through the life of a poor young man who falls in love with an upper-class lady. He also co-starred in Dalila, Egypt’s first color film, in 1956.⁵²
Although he produced some studio recordings, apart from his film appearances, he mostly performed live. Most of the existing recordings of his songs are from live concerts. He held concerts in almost every Arab country and occasionally sang in Europe.⁵³
At its core, his music was traditional. Yet he also welcomed modern and Western instrumentations, such as the electric organ and synthesizer (as heard in “Mawoud” and “Qariat al-Fingan”). His innovations were not without criticism; some accused him of being too European at a time when Egyptians sought to forge a new identity and nationhood free of British influence and control.⁵⁴
He died in 1977 in London of complications from the schistosomiasis that he contracted as a child. Some sources say that over 100,000 people attended his funeral in Cairo and that it was one of the largest funeral gatherings ever in the country.⁵⁵ One website claims that four women died by suicide over his death.⁵⁶ Many current biographies of Abdel Halim claim that he continues to be a role model of the ideal Egyptian man—handsome with a soft heart.
¹ Danielson, Virginia. The Voice of Egypt: Umm Kulthum, Arabic Song, and Egyptian Society in the Twentieth Century. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997, reprinted 2008, pp. 3. We highly recommend reading this biography in its entirety, as it puts Umm Kulthum’s life into political, social, and musical context in a changing and modernizing 20th-century Egypt.
² Ibid., 21, 24.
³ Ibid., 22, 27.
⁴ “Programme 6: Adhaf Soueif on Um Kulthum,” BBC – Radio 4, November 22, 2002, accessed September 27, 2014, http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/greatlives/soueif_kulthum.shtml.
⁵ Danielson, 25.
⁶ Ibid., 28.
⁷ Ibid., 27.
⁸ Ibid., 34.
⁹ Ibid., 35, 41.
¹⁰ Ibid., 40-1.
¹¹ Ibid., 54-5, 56-7, 61.
¹² Ibid., 70, 76, 99.
¹³ Ibid., 78-9, 137-8, 164.
¹⁴ Ibid., 107, 109.
¹⁵ Ibid., 122, 177.
¹⁶ Ibid., 121-2, 133.
¹⁷ Danielson, 166.
¹⁸ “Adhaf Soueif on Um Kulthum.”
¹⁹ Ibid., 164.
²⁰ Ibid., 135.
²¹ Ibid., 174.
²² Marcus, Scott L. Music in Egypt: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006, pp. 125.
²³ “Umm Kulthum: The Voice of Egypt,” NPR Music, May 11, 2008, accessed September 27, 2014, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90326836.
²⁴ “Adhaf Soueif on Um Kulthum.”
²⁵ Danielson, 173.
²⁶ Ibid., 180, 199.
²⁷ Anne Rasmussen, “The Music of Arab Americans: Aesthetics and Performance in a New Land,” in Images of Enchantment: Visual and Performing Arts of the Middle East, ed. Sherifa Zuhur, (Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 1998), 156.
²⁸ Racy, Ali Jihad. Making Music in the Arab World: The Culture and Artistry of Tarab. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, pp. 20.
²⁹ Racy, 24.
³⁰ Marcus, 125.
³¹ Danielson, 89.
³² Danielson, Virginia. “Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Wahhāb,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, July 11, 2013, accessed September 27, 2014, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/701/Muhammad-Abd-al-Wahhab.
³⁴ Mark L. Levinson, “Mohammad Abdel Wahab,” Al Mashriq, last modified June 14, 1996, accessed September 27, 2014, http://almashriq.hiof.no/egypt/700/780/abdel-wahab/abdel-wahab-bitton.html.
³⁵ Danielson, “Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Wahhāb.”
³⁶ Some conspiracy surrounds Asmahan’s untimely demise. She was the only female singer who posed any credible competition to Umm Kulthum, and her involvement in espionage for the British government during World War II fueled thoughts that the car crash that killed her had been planned.
³⁷ The Druze are a monotheist religious and social community in the Levant. Their theology is based in Shi’a Isma’ili Islam. They call themselves Ahl al-Tawhid, meaning “the people of monotheism,” or “the people of unity.”
³⁸ Zuhur, Sherifa. “Musical Stardom and Male Romance: Farid al-Atrash.” In Colors of Enchantment: Theater, Dance, Music, and the Visual Arts of the Middle East. Edited by Sherifa Zuhur, 270-96. Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 2001.
³⁹ Zuhur, Sherifa. “Building a Man on Stage: Masculinity, Romance, and Performance According to Farid al-Atrash,” Men and Masculinities 5 (2003): 275, accessed September 27, 2014, doi: 10.1177/1097184X02238527.
⁴⁰ Zuhur, “Musical Stardom,” 271.
⁴¹ Zuhur, “Building a Man,” 276.
⁴² Hammond, Andrew Leonard. Pop Culture Arab World!: Media, Arts, and Lifestyle. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2004.
⁴³ Katti, Madhuri. “Abdel Halim Hafez: Golden Voice of Egypt.” The Fiendish, May 30, 2009: http://thefiendish.com/2009/05/abdel-halim-hafez-golden-voice-of-egypt.
⁴⁴ El-Saket, Ola. “Remembering Abdel Halim Hafez, the voice of revolution,” Egypt Independent, June 21, 2006, accessed September 27, 2014, http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/remembering-abdel-halim-hafez-voice-revolution.
⁴⁵ “Abdul-Halim Hafez,” Egyptian State Information Services, accessed September 27, 2014, http://www.sis.gov.eg/En/Templates/Articles/tmpArticles.aspx?ArtID=1302.
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⁵⁴ Hammond, 147.
⁵⁷ Hammond, 146.
The content from this post is excerpted from Middle Eastern Music: History & Study Guide. A Salimpour School Learning Tool published by Suhaila International in 2018. This Music Book is an introduction to the music theory and main music exponents in the history of belly dance.
If you would like to make a citation for this article, we suggest the following format: Keyes, A. and Rayborn, T. (2018). The Great Four. Salimpour School. Retrieved insert retrieval date, from https://salimpourschool.com/the-great-four
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