Farid Al Atrash
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Farid al-Atrash (Jabal Ed-Druz, Syria, October 19, 1915 – Beirut, Lebanon, December 26, 1974) (in Arabic, فريد الأطرش), also called by his French way as Farid al Atrache . Composer, singer, actor and performer of the oud, was one of the most important names of Arabic music of the twentieth century. He is considered one of the four greats of Arabic music together with Mohammad Abdel Wahab , Abdel Halim Hafez and Umm Kalzum .
Farid al-Atrash was the son of Fahad al-Atrash and Princess Alia and was born into a family belonging to the Druze royalty that fought against the French colonial armies. In the middle of the year 1920, Princess Alia together with her three sons Fouad , Farid and Amal moved to Egypt as refugees escaping from occupation French Without having any personal documentation, they request the Egyptian nationality that is granted by the government and they are transferred to one of the most populated districts of Cairo where they lived the first years all together in a single room paradoxically after having lived a life of luxurious palaces. Farid’s mother, Alia, who sang and performed the oud at private parties and weddings to bring food to her family, was the one that inspired, stimulated and aroused the musical interest at an early age of her two younger sons Farid and Amal who would later become the famous singer and actress Asmahan.
As a child and as a teenager, Farid used to sing at special events at his school. Then he entered the music conservatory as an apprentice to the renowned composer Riyad Sunbaty. In the 1930s, Farid began his professional career singing for Egyptian radio stations. Eventually he was hired as an oud musician for the national radio station and later as a singer. His sister, Asmahan, was also a talented singer and they worked together for some time. In 1941 he starred in his first film in which Farid composed all the music.
Farid has a successful 40-year music career. His talent was musically diverse, as he was a composer, singer, and an oud instrumentalist highly admired. His style when composing and singing can not be easily defined, his music and voice could vary greatly from song to song. Although some of his music had influence, Occidental Farid always maintained the basic principles of Arabic music. Most of his compositions were romantic songs but he also composed several patriotic songs, music for belly dancing and religious songs.
Some of the most famous songs include “Rabeeh”, “Awal Hamsa”, “Hekayat Gharami”, “Albi Wa Moftaho”, “Gamil Gamal”, “Wayak”, “Ya Zahratan Fi Khayali”, “Busat Rih Go “,” Ya Gamil Ya Gamil “,” Ya Habaybi Ya Ghaybeen “,” Eish Anta “.
One of Farid’s most unique and distinguishing traits was his voice. At the beginning of his career his voice was high and soft then developed a lower and deeper tone, such that it is difficult to believe that the singer of “Ya Reitni Tir” (from the 30’s) and “Adnaytani Bil Hajr” (from the 60s) were the same person. His singing style was deeply passionate, and depending on the climate of the song the sound of his voice varied remarkably.
Throughout his singing career he was admired for his vocal range and ability. In many of his songs and in almost all his concerts Farid used to sing an improvisation or mawal. These improvisations sometimes lasted up to 15 minutes. The mawal was the favorite of his admirers because his musical creativity and vocal ability were at their best.
Farid starred in 31 Egyptian musical films from 1941 – 1974. His last film, Nagham Fi Hayati, was released after his death. All his films except the last two were black and white. His career extended from comedies to dramas or a combination of both. Farid composed all the songs of his films, including the songs sung by other singers and the instrumental subjects (generally for the belly dance routines). His films included between 10 to 5 musical themes. Some of Farid’s most famous films are: Intisar al-Shabab, Ahd EL-Hawa, Yom Bila Ghad, and Lahn al-Kholoud.
Because of his rapid success and popularity in his youth, Farid led a carefree life of nightclubs and light affairs. Having contracted numerous debts, his mother, who disapproved of his behavior, decided to disinherit him and leave him to his own fate. A difficult period was opened before him, aggravated by the death of his sister, the singer Asmahan, victim of a car accident until now doubtful; it was rumored that it was a planned murder because she had contacts with British espionage.
Farid finally achieved sentimental stability with the dancer Samia Gamal, who motivated him to risk all his capital to produce and star in 1947 a film in which both act as a couple protagonist. The film became a resounding success. After five other films with Gamal, the relationship ended and soon after she married an American who took her to live in the United States. This caused Farid deep sadness that he would not overcome. However, Farid would continue his film career with great success, but giving himself romantic roles as a sad and lonely singer, sometimes called “Wahid,” which means “lonely.”
Before and after the coup d’état that in 1952 removed Farouk I from Egypt, Farid maintained a friendly relationship with Queen Nariman Sadek. After being forced into exile, Faruk repudiated Nariman, who returns to Egypt and begins a loving relationship with Farid. Nariman’s family did not accept the relationship, which she interrupted. The separation induced the actor a long depression, which manifested itself in a progressive bankruptcy of his health. Arrived at old age considered a proposal of marriage of the Egyptian singer Shadia, but did not want to take the step for fear of leaving a widow still young age.
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