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Government and Politics

Halim El-Dabh sees signs of hope in Egyptian protests
Egypt's best known composer muses on the meaning of the unrest

Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
Halim El-Dabh came to the U.S. in 1950 to study music as a Fulbright scholar, he became a citizen in 1961. El-Dabh, who turns 90 next month, still teaches at Kent State University and maintains an active performance schedule.
Courtesy of Jeff St.Clair, WKSU
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Six decades after he left his home country, Halim El-Dabh remains Egypt’s most famous composer.  His music is played each night at the pyramids of Giza -  that is until this past week’s violence disrupted normal life in the region.

El-Dabh first came to the United States in 1950 to study music on a Fulbright scholarship.  He eventually settled in Ohio where now at nearly 90 he is an emeritus professor of music and ethnomusicology at Kent State University.  

We spoke over tea at his home in Kent where he’s been watching events unfold.  El-Dabh says he’s a musician, not a politician, but he sees the protests as a long repressed need among Egyptians to live what he calls a ‘decent life’. 

Halim El-Dabh on music and political change

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A concert at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts on Feb. 3 celebrated the life and music of Halim El-Dabh, in honor of his upcoming 90th birthday .  El-Dabh is an emeritus professor of music and ethnomusicology at Kent State University.


Music in this story:

Misri-yaat (written 1932 revised periodically to present)   Time 5:57;  Halim El-Dabh on piano.  From the CD 'Chambers and Concertos', recorded at the live performance ‘Reflections on the River Nile: The Music of Halim El-Dabh’; 
The Rocky River Chamber Music Society (Ohio), Nov. 19, 2007 








Related Links & Resources

Halim El-Dabh official website

Halim El-Dabh on Wikipedia

WKSU reporter Julie Grant travels with El-Dabh to Alexandria

New York celebration of El-Dabh's 90th year

Related WKSU Stories

Korean Music Ensemble to perform music of Egyptian American Halim El-Dabh
Friday, November 14, 2008

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