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In tribute to the death of Farid al-Atrash. What you do not know about the “King of the Oud.”

December 26 marks the anniversary of the death of the great musician and singer Farid al-Atrash, who is considered one of the best oud players in the history of Arab music. The whole wide world. That is why he was called the “King of the Oud” and “The Musician of All Time.” The late President Gamal Abdel Nasser called him the “Professor.”

Farid al-Atrash had a distinctive voice and a unique sad style. The Arab world did not witness a similar style to his style, as he remained to adhere to the rules of Arabic music despite the emergence of Western influence on his music. He left clear imprints in singing and enriched Arabic music with the sweetest melodies. He presented the history of Arab art with a rich library of 31 films, 300 lyrical tunes, as well as soundtracks and music tracks for many films. On the anniversary of his death, we bring to you in the following lines the most important information about the king of the oud, and glimpses of his artistic and personal life.

His Birth & Early Life

Farid Fahd Farhan Ismail al-Atrash was born on April 21, 1910, in the town of al-Qurayya in the Jabal al-Arab region, or what is known as Jabal al-Druze in Syria. His father is one of the leaders of Jebel Douz, who was known for fighting the French occupation and confronting colonialism. His mother is the princess and singer Alia Hussein Al-Mundhir, and he has 7 siblings from his father.

Because of the French persecution of his father, and his political struggle that put all family members at risk, Farid did not know stability in his childhood, as his family was busy fleeing the enemy constantly, so Farid traveled with his mother, brother Fouad and sister Amal, who later became the singer Asmahan, to Lebanon and from there to Egypt, fleeing the French occupation forces. Then, he changed his family surname from Al-Atrash to Koussa. Farid was deprived of his father, and after a while the news of the father was cut off and they did not know whether he was killed or captured.

In Egypt, Farid al-Atrash studied at the French school of al-Kharnafash. At this time, he participated in a ceremony honoring the Syrian revolution, which drew the attention of the artistic community for his performance, but when he revealed his true identity as a member of the Al-Atrash family, the French school dismissed him. After that, he joined the Greek Catholic Patriarchate School, then entered the Music Institute, and was apprenticed to the famous composer Riad Al-Sunbati.

Farid al-Atrash singing

Riad Al-Sunbati admired the art of Farid Al-Atrash, and helped him work on the Egyptian radio, where he was initially appointed as an oud player in the orchestra, and then asked Medhat Assem, the director of the oriental music department on the radio, to allow him to sing, so that Farid recorded his first song, “Oh, I wish I could fly.” Around You”, and he started singing on the radio twice a week, as he used a band and famous musicians such as Ahmed Al-Hefnawi, Yacoub Tatios and others, and worked to provide the band with Western instruments in addition to Eastern instruments, and then recorded a second song, “With Love Without Hope.”

During his artistic career, Farid al-Atrash presented a large number of songs and poems that were widely known and successful, the most famous of which are: I used to think of you as an angel, the melody of eternity, commanding the head and the eye, the carpet of the wind, the beautiful beauty, our love, the spring, the adornment, the hour near the beloved, on your branch, oh lemon, the leaves of the tree, the age of you, O Abu laughter of Janan, your absence is long, I wish you Bird, you made me deserted, my soul is sacrificed, the first whisper.

He also composed for major male and female singers such as Asmahan, Sabah, Fayza Ahmed, Warda Al Jazairia, Laila Murad, Souad Muhammad, Nour Al-Huda, Muharram Fouad, Fahd Ballan, and Muhammad Rushdi.

Farid al-Atrash and cinema

Farid al-Atrash’s artistic career in Egyptian cinema began in the early 1940’s, with the movie “The Victory of Youth”, which he put the tunes and soundtrack for. He starred with his sister Asmahan. Then he participated in 31 movies with the most famous stars and artists. From 1941 to 1974, he developed the music and tunes for the October celebrations held by the Egyptian Armed Forces in cooperation with the Ministry of Information. The most famous of them was “Habib Al-Omar, I love you, Afrita Hanim, the last joke,” with Samia Gamal. “The Melody of Eternity, The Story of a Lifetime, Great Love” with Faten Hamama. and “Goodbye your love, you are my love” with Shadia. and “Bulbul Effendi, the melody of my love, how can I forget you” with Sabah. And “A Message of Love, A Covenant of Love, There Is No One Behind You, a Day Without Tomorrow” with Maryam Fakhr El-Din.

Singing in French

Farid al-Atrash was known for his adherence to singing in Arabic, but for once during his life he decided to sing in French in order to support Palestine and the thousands of citizens displaced by the Israeli aggression. One day, he received a message from an Algerian citizen named Nayef Al-Wahrani, telling him that the impact of the song on the masses is much stronger than the sermon or the article and that if Farid Al-Atrash could present a song about Palestine in French, he would have done this cause a great service, and sent words The song with that message.

 Indeed, Farid al-Atrash agreed to sing in French in order to present this important cause to the whole world. With his distinctive voice, he was able to tell the story of Zionism, its ambitions, and its usurpation of the Palestinians’ right to their lands. Farid decided that the song would be recorded in Paris on cylinders, and that a body of Algerian liberals would distribute the song in Europe and America.

Multiple romantic relationships

It was known about Farid al-Atrash that he preferred the life of celibacy and freedom, and escaped from engagement and marriage. Until 1973, the only official engagement in Farid al-Atrash’s life came when he announced his engagement to Mrs. Salwa al-Qudsi, who was more than 30 years his junior. Which he met in Lebanon, and a friendship developed between them, which turned into a great love story in his last days, especially since she did not leave him during his sick ordeal. After his death, Salwa al-Qudsi announced their marriage with a customary marriage contract and kept it secret until Farid al-Atrash returned from the last treatment trip in London, where Farid intended to document this contract and announce the news of their marriage as soon as he returned to Cairo, but fate did not allow him. Salwa Al-Qudsi announced the customary marriage when she resorted to the Egyptian judiciary to prove the validity of her marriage contract with Farid after entering into disputes with the rest of the heirs over the inheritance.

A final love story and customary marriage

It was known about Farid al-Atrash that he preferred the life of celibacy and freedom, and escaped from engagement and marriage. Until 1973, the only official engagement in Farid al-Atrash’s life came when he announced his engagement to Mrs. Salwa al-Qudsi, who was more than 30 years his junior. Which he met in Lebanon, and a friendship developed between them, which turned into a great love story in his last days, especially since she did not leave him during his sick ordeal. After his death, Salwa al-Qudsi announced their marriage with a customary marriage contract and kept it secret until Farid al-Atrash returned from the last treatment trip in London, where Farid intended to document this contract and announce the news of their marriage as soon as he returned to Cairo, but fate did not allow him. Salwa Al-Qudsi announced the customary marriage when she resorted to the Egyptian judiciary to prove the validity of her marriage contract with Farid after entering into disputes with the rest of the heirs over the inheritance.

Awards and decorations

Farid al-Atrash received many honors and decorations throughout his life in honor of his artistic career, numbering 15 medals and necklaces, the most important of which is the Gold Eternity Medal as an international musician from France. The Jordanian Planet Medal, rank of Knight, from King Hussein in 1955. Independence Medal of the First Order. President Gamal Abdel Nasser gave him the Order of Merit, first class, in 1970.

Farid al-Atrash won the State Appreciation Award for Science and Arts from Egypt. The Oud King Award for the greatest oud player in the world was awarded in 1962 by Turkey. In addition to the Lebanese Independence Medal, the Lebanese Cedar Tree Medal, the Collar of the Lebanese Republic, the Morocco Medal from King Mohammed V, the Morocco Medal from King Hassan II, and the Kuwaiti Independence Medal. He also received many decorations from various Arab countries, including Sudan, Algeria, Tunisia, the Emirates, Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Illness and death

In 1957 Farid al-Atrash had a coronary artery clot, which made many doctors expect his death within five years at most, but he lived after his injury for 17 years. He suffered from a deteriorating health condition years before his death, due to his refusal to be advised by doctors to rest and avoid making any effort, especially after he had a blockage in the arteries and an enlarged heart muscle. The King of Oud left our world on December 26, 1974. His death in Lebanon came after he had a sudden heart attack, after which he was taken to the hospital, but he died at the age of 64. His body was transferred to Cairo, to be buried next to his late sister Asmahan, as he had recommended.

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