Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Egypt – LXXIX. My Years at 12A Rue Khantaret Ghamra – Entertainment (5 of 30)

Mohammed Abdel Wahab

Abdel Wahab’s music belongs to two worlds: Modern Oriental, and Western. And he melded the two for some of the most beautiful music in the Egyptian repertoire.

He was a composer extraordinaire who didn’t hesitate to experiment. He sang with a passion that gripped your heart and brought out feelings you didn’t know you possessed.

He composed more than a thousand songs and personally sang hundreds.

He acted in several movies; however, he used those movies to showcase his music and singing. As for his acting, to put it in a charitable way, it was passable.

While he composed many songs in the classic Arabic music, he was criticized for introducing Western rhythms to some of his compositions. For instance, in 1941, in his song Al Gondol (The Gondola) the Waltz rhythm was inserted. In 1957, he added the Rock and Roll rhythm to a song he composed for Abdel Halim Hafez, Ya Albi Ya Khali (My Lonely Heart).

Many years later, while listening to classical music and opera, I encountered Abdel Wahab’s music! I am not criticizing his “borrowing.” If anything, I support his efforts to modernize Oriental music; and I am not alone; many supported the musical style he introduced. They acknowledged the fact that he had in effect enriched Arabic music and took it into a new direction.

He was born in 1907 in Cairo in an area called Bab El Shaariyah. In addition to the above mentioned musical talents, he was a gifted oud (lute) player. He played the oud in front of the Prince of Poets, Ahmed Shawqi. He made his first recording at the age of 13. In 1926, he composed a stage musical based on “Anthony and Cleopatra.” It was started by Sayyed Darwish, who despite his short life was one of the most prominent Egyptian musicians of the 20th century.

Abdel Wahab went to Paris where (I surmise) he was introduced and influenced by Western music.

He died of heart failure in 1991.

What I said of Om Kalsoum applies to Abdel Wahab. Long after this generation of Egyptians, and many generations thereafter, have passed on, his immortal music will grip hearts and mist eyes.

Comments are closed.