Class Presentation

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Egyptian Art Music Composers

Three generations of Egyptian university-trained art music composers are recognized in Egypt today.

A unique strand of art music due to composer training and background of composers as well as the resulting forms of the music.
Often incorporates Egyptian/Arab modes, melodies and rhythms

Negotiation of problematic identities evident through discourse around the music, the music itself and the lives of the composers

Historical Context and Origins

Muhammad Ali founded 5 schools of military music in early 19th Century Military bands and instrumentalists

Western music associated with advancement and the upper class

Change in terms used to describe European-inspired music in Egypt in 1930s: al-masiqa al-urupiyyah (European music) to al-misiqa al-'alamiyyah (International music)

1952 Revolution- Government funding by Western educated Egyptian elite- Modernity and Progress
Establishment of many conservatories- Western music training and theory

Origins and growth of the Cairo Opera House, Cairo Symphony Orchestra, National Conservatory and National Conservatory Orchestra
Performance of art music and training of composers Gradual replacement of European musicians, professors and leadership within these organizations

Three Generations of Composers

First generation
Yusif Greis
Abu Bakr Khairat
Hasan Rashid
Trends: Upper class families, education outside of music, training in Western and Arab music, focus on 18th and 19th Century European music composers, melodies sometimes based upon Egyptian traditional rural and urban music, financed own music performances, not popular
Quote: Those who describe music as being Western at some times and Oriental at others are mistaken. Music is the language which is known by all peoples without any differentiation between the East and West. (Music critic)

Second Generation
Gamal Abdel-Rahim
Halim El-Dabh
Rif’at Garrana
Trends: Middle Class, privately trained in Western performance in Egypt, studied abroad and in Egypt, compositions characteristic of where they studied

Third Generation
Rageh Daoud
Mauna Ghoneim
Gamal Salama
Trends: composition for the theatre, use of Egyptian modes, popular music




Performances in Egypt Today

Emphasis on the European canon but with the inclusion of Egyptian composers as well

“The concert took a decided turn for the better when they gave four pieces for orchestra by the Egyptian composer Ragueh Daoud. He is a composer who, having listened to what is going on outside Egypt, weighing and sifting the results with conditions here, has come to a sound system of his own which is contemporary and in touch with musical composition on the international circuit, but relevant to the special needs of public performances existing in Egypt.”
-Later on presented in terms of representing Cairo and its dark chaos

Cathartic reactions to modern performances- Bibliotheca Alexandrina Chamber Orchestra

Arabic Perspectives Festival- composers from around the Arab world (Lebanon and Jordan)
- Lebanon Symphony Orchestra

Negotiation of Problematic identities