sayed Darwish - File
CAIRO – 9 September 2018: Sayed Darwish Heritage Troupe will perform a concert at Cairo Opera House on Wednesday, September 12 to celebrate the death anniversary of renowned Egyptian musician Sayed Darwish.
Born in 1892, the ambitious singer was raised among seven children and used to work as a bricklayer to provide for his family. He was discovered by a manager of a theatrical troupe who overheard him singing while working and decided to hire him.
Dying at the dawn of his striking career at the age of 31, Darwish pursued his career while touring in Syria where he embarked on his musical education. He later returned to Egypt where he was rarely recognized as he sang in coffee shops before World War I.
Despite his limited popularity at the time, Darwish was given the opportunity to collaborate with significant composers of that century after being trained to be a “Munshid” (cantor).
The Alexandrian singer/composer is well known in modern Arab music historiography for symbolizing progress, modernity, and transforming the Oriental and Ottoman music made for the elite at the time into Egyptian music, according to an article published by Al-Mashriq.
Darwish was haunted by several failures in his early singing career; however, 1918 has been earmarked as a turning point as he was inspired by renowned Arabic lyricist Salama Higazy.
Known as an experimental artist, Darwish has also been recognized as a long living icon of nationalism, composing the famous Egyptian national anthem “Biladi Biladi” and the revolutionary “Oom Ya Masry” that played a great role in the revolution of 1919.
The composer’s first hit song, “The Beautiful One”, was released in 1912. Darwish is also known for singing and composing “Salma ya Salama” that has been recreated in various covers, including a cover by the late singer Dalida. Other compositions include “El-Helwa di Kamet Te’gen”, which was also recreated into a new cover sung by Lebanese singer Fayrouz and was reproduced in orchestral versions.
Darwish also met with cinema legend Naguib al-Rihani in Cairo where they both worked together to compose seven operettas alongside comedian Kish Kish Bey. The trio conducted works such as “Al-Ashara Al-Tayeba" (Ten of Diamonds) in 1920 which is a patriotic adaptation of “Bluebeard.”
They also conducted an opera called “Cleopatra and Mark Anthony” where the singing/ acting legend Mohamed Abdel Wahab starred in the leading role. Darwish also composed “Shahrazad” and “Al-Baruka,” which were not met with widespread success.
The late artist's theatre productions were often westernized as the traditional Arabic Takht was replaced by a European ensemble and conducted by Il Signore Casio, who was Darwish’s maestro. Darwish’s operetta tunes are famous for combining musical modes with pianos that reveal his fascination with Italian opera.