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Hamza El Din

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Hamza El Din {حمزة علاء الدين} (b. Toshka, Egypt, July 10, 1929 - d. Berkeley, California, May 22, 2006) was a Nubian oud player, tar player, and singer.


Born on 10th July 1929 in the Egyptian village of Toshka, near Wadi Halfa, he originally trained to be an electrical engineer. El Din changed direction and began to study music at the Cairo University, continuing his studies at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. His performances attracted the attention of the Grateful Dead, Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan in the 1960s, which led to a recording contract and to his eventual emigration to the United States. Like much of Egyptian Nubia, his home village of Toshka was flooded due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s, creating in El Din a drive to preserve and promote his culture.

His 1968 recording Escalay: the Water Wheel was claimed as an influence by some American minimalist composers, such as Steve Reich and Terry Riley. He performed with the Kronos Quartet.

El Din held a number of teaching positions in the United States during the 1980s and 1990s, eventually settling in the San Francisco Bay Area. He died on 22nd May 2006 at the age of seventy-six, after complications following surgery for a gallbladder infection at a hospital in Berkeley, California. He is survived by his wife, Nabra.

* Official site

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