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Farid El Atrache

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Biography

Farid El Atrache (1915-1974) (Arabic: فريد الأطرش) was a Syrian-born Egyptian composer, singer, actor, and oud virtuoso. Farid was born to Syrian Druze nobility, the Atrache family, who led the Druze fight against both the Ottomans and the French Mandate in modern-day Syria and Lebanon. He is one of the most important names of twentieth century Arab music. His sister Asmahan was also a skilled singer, though her career was cut tragically short by a controversial car accident.

Early life

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 1930’s, 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 movie, in which Farid himself composed all the music.

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