Egyptian electronic music pioneer Halim El-Dabh dies at 96



Mon, 04 Sep 2017 - 12:38 GMT


Mon, 04 Sep 2017 - 12:38 GMT

Halim El-Dabh via Wikimedia

Halim El-Dabh via Wikimedia

CAIRO – 4 September 2017: Halim El-Dabh, an Egyptian composer, ethnomusicologist and professor passed away at the age of 96 on Saturday, September 2. His wife Deborah confirmed the news on El-Dabh’s official website.

El-Dabh was born in Cairo, 1921, and graduated from the Cairo University in 1945.

He was present at the ‘First International Ethnomusicological Conference’ in 1932 at Cairo. El-Dabh’s interest in music led him to experiment with field recordings of old healing ceremonies, which is believed to be some of the earliest examples of synthesized music.

El-Dabh was thus one of the earliest pioneers of electronic music.

Upon moving to the U.S. in 1950, El-Dabh studied at the University of New Mexico and received several scholarships, including to the New England Conservatory of Music. He would later move to New York and establish himself as a shining musical talent.

Besides composing, El-Dabh also extensively studied the music of various African cultures, such as Zaar in Egypt, the Congo and Ethiopia and Zikre. His primary interests were in ethnic African music.

He taught extensively as well, teaching in universities such as Kent State University, where he taught full-time from 1969 to 1991. He was also a teacher at Howard University and Haile Selassie University, where he organized the Orchestra Ethiopia, a concert composed of various ethnic Ethiopians.

His most famous work was ‘Clytemnestra’, choreographed back in 1958 alongside composer Martha Graham.

On his website, Deborah states that El-Dabh was a ‘prolific composer as well as a performer, professor and ethnomusicologist.’ A man of many talents and passions, El-Dabh helped spread the influence and majesty of African music to the world.

He is survived by his wife and three children, Habeeb, Shadia and Amira.



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