Sayyed Darweesh ,The people's Artist
Egypt, People, 9/16/1999
In the memory of Sayyed Darweesh on day his death (September 15), an official statement was released to remember "The people's Artist (1892-1923)."
Sayyed Darweesh is a pioneering, most outstanding Egyptian creative artist, and a multi-faceted musical genius of the highest calibre as well as a devoted nationalist and wholeheartedly supporter of the Egyptian struggle for independence.
Darweesh was born in "Koom El Dekkah, Alexandria on March 17, 1892. At the age of 5, his teacher; Sami Effendi discovered his early aptitude for acquiring and performing songs and tunes.
Darweesh led a turbulent life. He was a sort of jack of all trades, master of none. He was, therefore, involved in various vocations; singing in local semi-religions gatherings, and cafes, working as a help hand to plasterers and a clerk at a furniture store.
In 1909, he travelled to Syria, but the trip was a failure. However, it was an opportunity for him to familiarize himself to the music of other Arab countries and to get acquainted with the great Syrian musical composer; Othman Al Mawseli.
In 1912, he made a second trip to Syria, when he joined Selim Attallah's Troupe. This trip was successful.
In Syria, he revived relations with his old friends and coaches. He stayed for two years in Syria, where he gained wide experience in the secrets of oriental music, including Arab, Persian and Turkish.
Back from Syria, he set out forming up his own troupe, to which he admitted a number of prominent musicians. In Alexandria, he started forging out his way to fame. His first composition, at this new stage: " My heart!" was widely acclaimed by the musical and art community. His musical talent was later manifested in a successive collection of Andalusian tunes " Muwashahat" and popular melodies, which had an overwhelming appeal to the segments of the people, of which the famous song "Visit me once a year". Later, Sayyed Darweesh moved to Cairo, where he gained wider fame. Dramatic troupes competed in attracting him. Finally Naguib Al Reehani managed to make an agreement with darweesh to join his troupe as a composer. At this stage, he came to know famous lyricists such as Badie Khairi, Ameen Sidqi and Barram Al Tunisi, who provided beautiful words and interesting dialogues for Darweesh's longs and operates.
Early in 1921, Darweesh founded his own troupe, through which he presented two plays: "Sheherzade" and "The Whig". However, the troupe was only short-lived. Darweesh as a pioneer of Music.
Darweesh was really a pioneer of musical innovation and creativity. Thanks to his original talent and his highly creative works, he pushed Arabic music forward to wider prospects of progress and sophistication. He introduced new, genuine and innovative forms of Arabic music, in terms of lyrics, structure, tunes and performance. This flow of new fascinating music and songs was widely acclaimed by the people.
Sayyed Darweesh exceptionally excelled in all forms of songs; he was equally a master of old Muwashahs, conventional and light songs, anthems and musical plays, not to mention variety shows and folkloric songs.
Darweesh liberated Arabic music from confinement to dogmatic, inherrted forms. His compositions were truly expressive and representative of his characters. As musical composition, to Sayyed Darweesh was a process of inducing and converting thoughts into music, he managed, in his own words, not out of challenge, to "compose tunes to fit any words even newspapers."
Darweesh thought of recording his compositions in a scientific style. He contemplated a "contract for the people's songs", which provided for the incorporation of a company to record in musical scale commonly circulated songs. He was, thus, more than half a century ahead of his time.
Sayyed Darweesh used to take part in writing lyrics in addition to composing tunes for his songs. He was also interested in cultivating his musical background, and was a frequent viewer of foreign visiting troups.
He benefited from Western music in the course of his innovative exercise, by introducing polyphonic harmony into his play, while maintaining original oriental taste. Darweesh's Role in Theatre.
Theatre was the real-life school, where Darweesh recieved training and acquired experience, sang and responded to fascinated spectators and had the chance of playing hero for his three musical dramas.
It was at the theatre where his musical talent was brought into play. His three musical plays, which continued to be presented even after his death by various troupes, were his chef-d'oeuvres.
Darweesh was a typically prolific and diversified artist. During his extremely short life span, he produced about twenty musical plays, containing more than 200 compositions. Sayyed darweesh as an active Nationalist .
Darweesh was a devoted patriot, who truly loved his country and compatriote. At a time when British colonialism was applying full force to the elimination of Egyptian patriotism, Sayyed Darweesh's inspiring and pentrating songs and lyrics enflamed nationalist enthuisiasm. His works gave beautiful artistic expression of the relantless struggle of nationalist leaders like Mustafa Kamel, Mohammed Fareed and Sa'd Zaghloul.
In this atmosphere faught with sweeping national sentiments, Sayyed Darweesh sang in praise of the homeland: My country, my country, my country, My love and my innermost heart to thee. Egypt! the mother of all hands, Than art my goal and aspiration. all people are indebted, to your Nile with many a favour. He also paid tribute to Egypt, which is as eternal as the time itself: Here I am, the Egyptian of noble origin, Above the Pyramids I built glory. My grand father did create fabulous science, and the Nile course running through the fertile valley.
This anthem, composed by Sayyed Darweesh, was later taken as the Egyptian national anthem. The lyric, written by poet-laureat Ahmad Shawqi was granted the first prize in a competition conducted in 1921.
Darweesh was also a political activist, who led demonstrations calling for freedom from British colonialization.
Darweesh was an artist who rose from the ranks of the people. He actually lived with and expressed the agonies and concerns of nurses, waiters, watermen, postmen and craftmen.
In his works, he dealt with social corruption, injustice, and other social evils. He called up in Egyptian capitalists to invest in industry, to ensure social solidarity between workers and employers.
In his songs, he advocated equal opportunity to men and women alike. He urged women to properly perform their duties, as an integral element of the nation. He also presented musical pieces which warned the people against the dangers of drug addiction.
The highly talented genius died at the prime of his youth at the age of 31, on September 15, 1923, leaving behind a great wealth of musical works that are still alive and remembered with unwavering appreciation.
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