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076 – Dāwūd Ḥusnī 1, Min Al Tarikh



169-AHH-2, A Abdul Hay Helmi, Sallemt Rohak I

The Arab Music Archiving and Research foundation (AMAR), in collaboration with the Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF), presents “Min al-Tārīkh”.

Dear listeners, welcome to a new episode of “Min al-Tārīkh”.

Today, we will be talking about Dāwūd Afandī Ḥusnī, or who…?





Prof. Frédéric Lagrange? 

Dāwūd Afandī Ḥusnī, or David Khāyīm Levi, or Dāwūd Ibn Khiḍr.

When we discussed Sulaymān Abū Dāwūd’s biography, we suffered from the lack of information about him, whereas we have a lot of information about Dāwūd Ḥusnī.

But the biggest problem concerning the latter is how to sort this information and distinguish right from wrong? Among the sources that include such information, many can be considered pretentious and overstated.


…A lot, yet too little.

Exactly… More is less…

Whether we base our analysis on Maḥmūd Kāmil’s undated book published around the late 60’s or the early 70’s, or Syrian Aḥmad al-Jundī’s book published in 1984, or Rizq’s book that is the least “pretentious and overstated” of the three…


Dāwūd Ḥusnī

Dāwūd Ḥusnī

Because Dāwūd Ḥusnī was still alive at the time.

Exactly, or the Internet website with the biography written by ‘Abd al-‘Azīz Matātiyā Yūsuf Marzūq, Ibrāhīm Murād Barūkh Murād, and Albert Zakī Barūkh al-Gamīl…

All these sources take elements from each other and repeat the same possibly doubtful information because it is contradictory to a certain point.

In general, all sources agree on the following: Dāwūd Ḥusnī was born in 1870 or 1871 in the district of “Wikālat al-Ṣanādiqiyya” in Cairo; and his father was a jeweller and a Karaite Jew.

The information concerning his life after that is contradictory: It is said that he studied at the “Collège des Frères” in Khurunfish where he learned French…

All this information implies that he was a well-off member of the middle-class, neither rich nor an aristocrat.

But the information confirms –as much as can be confirmed– that he worked at books’ binding and packaging in a bookshop and printing press owned by Sheikh ‘Alī Sukkar.

Being born to a father who was a jeweller, studying at the “Frères”, and working in a printing press all seem quite contradictory.


The “Frères” and the printing press “don’t mix”.


To me, the “Frères” story is more credible than the story about the printing press: we will learn later that he was able to communicate with gentlemen who attended the 1932 Cairo Congress of Arab Music who could not speak Arabic, and who reported that they were only able to talk to Dāwūd Ḥusnī and Sāmī al-Shawwā without an interpreter.

I believe the story about the “Frères” not the one about the printing press.

According to Maḥmūd Kāmil’s story, his father opposed his wish to become a professional singer, so he left Cairo and went to Manṣūra where he studied under Prof. Muḥammad Sha‘bān… a name we have already heard.


With ‘Abduh al-Ḥāmūlī, right?

Exactly. Was it the same Prof. Sha‘bān or another?


Or were all teachers called Prof. Sha‘bān…?

Were all muwashshaḥ teachers called Prof. Sha‘bān? This seems a bit strange…


Well it was the season… the month of Sha‘bān right before the month of Ramaān…

The lights of Cairo drew him and he went back there. If this information is true, this happened in the last decade of the 19th century, when he started his career as a muṭrib and composer, imitating the style and the voice of Muḥammad ‘Uthmān who himself acknowledged Dāwūd Ḥusnī’s potential in his first dawr “Al-ḥa’ ‘andī”. Dāwūd Ḥusnī considered Muḥammad ‘Uthmān as his teacher and it is said that he saluted him at the beginning of all his concerts.

According to Qasṭandī Rizq, ‘Abduh al-Ḥāmūlī sang some of Dāwūd Ḥusnī’s dawr including “Ḥubbak yā salām” and “ ‘Azīz ḥubbak”.

Strangely, Maḥmūd Kāmil refutes this information, even though there are proofs.


I disagree with Maḥmūd Kāmil.

As you wish …, but what is your evidence?


‘Abduh al-Ḥāmūlī’s cylinder record of dawr “ ‘Azīz ḥubbak” in full.

The recording is not very clear, but let us listen to a short excerpt.




Unlike ‘Abduh al-Ḥāmūlī, the 1st rank muṭrib who recorded many of Dāwūd Ḥusnī’s dawr include first and foremost Yūsuf Al-Manyalāwī and ‘Abd al-Ḥayy Ḥilmī.

I personally think that the most famous dawr composed by Dāwūd Ḥusnī and that was interpreted by almost all the muṭrib –each adding his personal variations–, is “Sallimti rūḥak”.


As well as “Da‘ el ‘adhūl”.

“Da‘ el ‘adhūl” is indeed among his very successful dawr.

The most beautiful version of “Sallimti rūḥak” I have heard is ‘Abd al-Ḥayy Ḥilmī’s recording made by Odeon, because it includes a poignant tragic aspect.


Now concerning “Da‘ el ‘adhūl”, I think that it is in no way superior to Sheikh Yūsuf Al-Manyalāwī’s historical genial performance of this dawr.



Dear listeners,

We have reached the end of today’s episode of “Min al-Tārīkh”.

We thank Prof. Frédéric Lagrange and we will meet again in a new episode to resume our discussion about Dāwūd Afandī Ḥusnī.

“Min al-Tārīkh” is brought to you by Mustafa Said.


015-YMN-1-A, Manyalawi, Day El Azoul I001-DHS A, Dawud Husni, Sallemt Rohak I


  2014  /  Podcast  /  Last Updated September 4, 2014 by Amar  /  Tags:
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