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فريد الأطرش {Farid El Atrache} (1915-1974) was a Syrian-born Egyptian composer, singer, actor, and oud virtuoso.

Farid was born in Syria to a Druze princely family who fought the French Colonial armies. In the mid 1920s he moved with his family to Egypt escaping the French occupation, later on they were naturalized by the Egyptian government. Farid’s mother sang and played the oud, which spurred his musical interest at an early age.

As a child and young adult, Farid sang in school events. He studied in a music conservatory and became an apprentice of the renowned composer Riyad as-Sunbaty. In the 1930s, Farid began his professional singing career by working for privately owned Egyptian radio stations. Eventually, he was hired as an oud player for the national radio station and later as a singer. His sister, Asmahan, was also a talented singer, and for a while they worked together. In 1941, they starred in their first successful film, in which Farid himself composed all the music.

Farid had a long and colourful music career. lasting four decades. He composed musically diverse songs, and was a highly regarded composer, singer, and instrumentalist. Farid maintained that although some of his music had western musical influence, he always stayed true to Arab music principles. Although the majority of his compositions were romantic love songs, he also composed several patriotic and religious songs.

One of Farid’s most unusual and distinguishable traits was his voice. High and mellow at the start of his career, it evolved into a wider, deeper sound. In many of his songs, and nearly all of his concerts, Farid would sing a mawal, which is a slow voice improvisation on a few poetic lines. These improvisations sometimes lasted up to fifteen minutes. The mawal was a favorite of his fans.


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