World renowned Egyptian musician Abdo Dagher dies at 85

Ati Metwaly , Monday 10 May 2021

The violinist and composer worked with many renowned musicians while his unique technique is taught internationally

Abdo Dagher

Internationally renowned Egyptian musician Abdo Dagher died earlier today, Egypt's Music Syndicate revealed.

Born in Tanta in 1936, Dagher began learning music on his own and playing oud at the age of seven. At the age of ten he was inspired by the famous Soviet violinist David Oistrakh and shifted to the violin himself.

He left home as a teenager and had to earn living on his own, yet he persisted in developing his skill as a violinist. He moved to Cairo at the age of 18.

Early in his musical journey, Dagher was especially attracted to the religious music performed by the Sufi orders, which he learned in his childhood. This experience strongly influenced his later compositions. 

Having no formal education, Dagher gained a profound knowledge of music by himself or through cooperation with renowned musicians. He became known as Malik At-Taqasim (Master of Improvisation), a skill that has strongly marked his wealth of music.

His virtuosity as a violinist opened many doors to the young musician and soon he began performing and recording with numerous ensembles, accompanying famed singers. It was his cooperation with Um Kalthoum and Mohamed Abdel Wahab that shed particular light on Dagher. 

In fact, Dagher has been often referred to as "the violinist of Um Kalthoum."

Together with Abdel Halim Noweira he founded the Arab Music Ensemble, a formation operating as part of the Cairo Opera House. He also supervised the Oriental Violin House affiliated with the Talents Development Centre at the Cairo Opera.

In parallel, he also composed numerous music pieces which continue to be performed in Egypt on regular basis. Among the best known works are Al Shabab, The Nile, Al Mashrabiya, Akhnaton, among others.

It was not until 1992 that his compositions and violin virtuosity began being recognised internationally. He toured across Europe, becoming a recurring guest in France, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain.

His performances attracted interest on the international stage and his technique is taught in music schools across Germany when presenting oriental violin techniques in their curriculum.

Abdo Dagher also held numerous master classes and training workshops for young musicians in Europe and across the Arab world. 

Dagher received many local and international awards. Dagher has been always praised for his very personal style, his technique and virtuosity. His talent as a composer combined with his innate sense of improvisation, infused his work and performance with originality and unparalleled quality.

Dagher died early on Monday in Heliopolis (Cairo) hospital at the age of 85.

Following the news of Dagher's passing, numerous Egyptian artists expressed their sorrow on the loss of one of the important icons of Arabic music.

Culture minister Ines Abdel Dayem said "the music scene has lost one of its most important musicians and a unique artistic genius whose unique style has and will continue to inspire many generations."  

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