Google Doodle of Ratiba El-Hefny, December 2, 2017 – Google
CAIRO – 2 December 2017: Google celebrates the 86th birthday of the late, great Egyptian soprano Ratiba El-Hefny, who passed away September 16, 2013 at the age of 82. She left behind a magnificent musical legacy, both in Egypt and internationally.
Born in 1931, El-Hefny came from a musical family, she began playing the piano as a young girl and was proficient at the qanun and oud later in life. El-Hefny studied at Cairo’s Faculty of Music Education. Though already at the professional level as a concert pianist, El-Hefny’s heart was geared more towards singing in Arabic, so she shifted her focus towards that.
Interest in western classical music, El-Hefny singing brought the two cultures together in harmony. By the 1950’s she was the first Egyptian singer to return to Egypt with a diploma in music, which she earned while studying in Munich.
In 1961 El-Hefny performed Franz Lehár’s “The Merry Widow,” at the Khedivial Opera House in Cairo. Entry was an accessible six pilasters, for the first time Egyptian’s of all classes could enjoy the opera together. This helped to propel El-Hefny into the beloved national music icon she is today. A year later, she became the dean of the Higher Institute of Arab Music in Cairo.
El-Hefny was interested in introducing music to children and established the first children’s choir in Egypt during the 1960’s. Later she opened the Cairo Opera Children's Choir and Um Koulthoum Ensemble for Arabic Music. After founding the National Arab Music Ensemble, she returned to Germany to continue her musical studies.
For well over two decades El-Hefny also hosted TV and radio programmes on music. During the 1990’s, she served as the president of the Arab Society for Music. Up until 2010, she was supervisor at the Talents Development Centre at the Cairo Opera House.
Beyond her talents, El-Hefny dedicated much of her time and energy to encouraging and educating people about the wonders of music, doing her best to ensure that everyone could have a chance to experience and create music.
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