Gamal Abdel-Rahim

Gamal Abdel-Rahim (1924 - 1988) was born into a musical family – his mother sang and played piano in the Oriental style, and his father played the nay (flute), oud (lute) and violin, taught music privately and was appointed as a music supervisor to the Egyptian Ministry of Education. His father also registered the invention of a Boehm flute that was capable of playing the three-quarter tones that are found in characteristic Arabic modes (maqam, maqamat = plural)

At a young age Gamal began to play the piano but was only halfheartedly encouraged by his father, who wished to spare him the disappointments of a career in music that he himself had experienced. He studied history at Fouad University (now Cairo University) and received encouragement from the Music Association. He studied Western music theory, harmony and piano.

In 1950 he fulfilled his dream of studying music in Germany; on an Egyptian government grant he studied two semesters of musicology at the Musikhochschule of Heidelberg where he firmly decided that creative musical composition was to be his vocation. He joined the Musikhochschule of Freiburg in Breisgau where he studied composition from 1952 to 1957 with Harald Genzmer, a well-known pupil of Hindemith.

Gamal returned to a changing Egyptian society five years after the 1952 revolution which ended the British occupation. This was the dawn of a new cultural nationalistic movement aimed at emphasizing Egyptian cultural identity, but also open to Western culture and arts, including Western music.

When the Cairo Conservatory of Music first opened its doors in 1959, Gamal was appointed to teach theory and harmony and was later appointed head of the composition department which he founded in 1971, the first of its kind in the Arab world. He created his own multicultural compositional style that fused Arabic and Western music and earned him the title of “Bartok of Egypt.” He held this position until 1984, when he became Professor Emeritus, later traveling to the United States in 1987 to teach with his wife for two years at the University of South Florida at Tampa.

Gamal Abdel-Rahim — Bohayrat Al-Lotus (The Lotus Pond)

Known as the “Bartok of Egypt,” Abdel-Rahim’s music contains many beautiful ornamented solo lines and exotic non-Western harmonies based on Arabic modes (maqamat). This piece has been popular among Egyptian instrumentalists for decades and is published now for the first time with the solo part available for flute, oboe or violin. Also available in a woodwind quintet arrangement.

Suited for:


For Flute (or Oboe or Violin) and Piano, 5 minutes.
SW-0175 . . . $22.00

Gamal Abdel-Rahim — Bohayrat Al-Lotus (The Lotus Pond)

A quintet arrangement of an Egyptian melody by the leading 20th Century Egyptian composer known as the “Bartok of Egypt.” Ornamented solo lines for flute, oboe and clarinet, and unusual harmonies based on Arabic modes (maqamat). Arranged by Adam Lesnick.

Suited for:


For Woodwind Quintet, 5 minutes.
WW5-0178 . . . $28.00

Gamal Abdel-Rahim — Duo for Violin and Cello

An exciting virtuoso work for violin and cello incorporating ornaments, colors and microtonal Arabic modes (maqamat) in a 20th Century intercultural Arabic masterpiece. Written in 1981 as a wedding present for the composer’s daughter and son-in-law, the lively, syncopated 1st and 3rd movements are based on Egyptian folk songs, We Samahennoba and the love song Ya Nakhletein (Two Palm Trees), while the haunting slow movement is entirely original. Published here for the first time, this unique work is considered to be one of the composer’s finest works. “...a work of remarkable originality and a contribution to the path initiated by Bartok, in its happy synthesis of the European and the Arabic.” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Suited for:


For Violin and Cello, 12 minutes.
STR2-0303 . . . $36.00

Gamal Abdel-Rahim — Improvisation on a Peddler’s Tune

Composed in 1982 for his son-in-law, Egyptian cellist Kamel Salah El-Din, and published here for the first time, this piece is destined to take its place among the major 20th Century works for unaccompanied cello. Despite the free, improvisatory nature of the work implied in it’s title (“Taqasim” in Arabic), Abdel-Rahim crafted a carefully notated, technically challenging virtuoso solo piece based on a peddler’s song from the northeast Egyptian coastal town of Abu Qir. It allows the cellist to have great expression and use many colors evoking the sounds of Egyptian folk instruments, while exploring the Arabic microtonal mode (maqam) Bayyati. A unique addition to the solo cello recital repertoire, described as a landmark in modern Arabic art music.

Suited for:


For Cello Solo, 7 minutes.
VLC-0302 . . . $27.00

Gamal Abdel-Rahim — Meditation

Written for the composer’s daughter, violinist Basma Abdel-Rahim, this colorful solo recital work displays virtuoso violin solo writing in a modern style that fuses Arabic and European genres. In slow-fast-slow form, the one-movement work is a challenging showpiece.

Suited for:


For Violin Solo, 7 minutes.
VLN-0301 . . . $27.00

Gamal Abdel-Rahim — Raqsat Isis (Dance of Isis)

The ensemble of flute and harp work perfectly in this unusual and beautifulwork that evokes the sounds of ancient Egypt with Abdel-Rahim’s exotic harmonies based on Arabic music modes (maqamat). A technically challenging recital work by Egypt’s leading art music composer of the 20th Century.

Suited for:


For Flute and Harp, 5 minutes.
FL-0176 . . . $28.00

Gamal Abdel-Rahim — Trio (Ekhnaton’s Prayer and Phoenician Dance)

A very unusual and colorful addition to the existing 20th Century repertoire for piano trio. Composed in 1986, the expressive, lyrical Ekhnaton’s Prayer contrasts the lively Phoenician Dance, which is punctuated by the Arabic rhythmic pattern masmoody, including occasional drumming on the body of the cello. A perfect choice for the trio looking for a unique crowd-pleaser to spice up programs.

Suited for:


For Violin, Cello and Piano, 12 minutes.
PN3-0304 . . . $42.00

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