Al-Qasabji, Composer of Um Kolthoum Masterpieces, in the Spotlight
Few people would talk about the landmark composer, Mohammad Al-Qasabji, and his achievements in the modern Arab music history, although a drama series on the life of the diva singer Um Kulthoum displayed the human part of his life and revived his image in the minds of the Arab audience.
But the musician came in spotlight once again in a seminar held recently in Damascus where his achievements were discussed by experts and fans of his music, said Syrian Times in a report.
Al-Qasabji was one of the most prominent musicians in the 20th century who advocated renewal in Arab music along with Sayyed Darwish and Mohammad Abdul Wahab. He also sought for developing Arab music through benefiting from European musical instruments and scales.
Al-Qasabji was born in Cairo in 1892 to a lutist who taught him the basic principles of lute playing and musical theories. He moved from the stage of an amateur musician to that of profession in 1917 when he began to make compositions for young singers at his time. He taught Ud (lute) playing at the Eastern Musical Club. Among his students was the famous singer and composer Mohammad Abdul Wahab who benefited from al-Qasabji and invented new musical theories.
The fame al-Qasabji gained at Cairo clubs and theatres pushed reputed singers at the time to ask him for compositions. These include Tawhida and Munira al-Mahdiya. However, the most important turning point in the life of al-Qasabji was his meeting with the late mega singer Um Kalthoum, the Star of the Orient. The meeting of the two, which took place in 1924, had a great impact on the development of Arab music.
Thanks to al- Qasabji, Um Kulthoum started to sing on a theatrical stage instead of the nightclub, and this was very important to upgrade the situation of Arab music and singing.
His early compositions for Um Kulthoum were monologues and national songs.
Then he moved to compose long poems for her, considered later as the masterpieces of modern Arab singing. The most important accomplishments realized by al-Qasabji is employing musical harmony and inventing new moulds for monologue composition. He died in 1966 – Albawaba.com