Asmahan - Emta Tioud (La beauté de l'amour est immense)

from Arabian Masters (The Golden Age) by Various

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Asmahan, was an Egyptian singer from Syrian background who lived and rose to fame in Egypt.Having immigrated to Egypt at the age of three years old, her family knew the composer Dawood Hosni, and she sang the compositions of Mohamed El Qasabgi and Zakariyya Ahmad.She also sang the compositions of Mohammed Abdel Wahab and her brother Farid al-Atrash, a then rising star musician in his own right. Her voice was one of the few female voices in Arab music world to pose serious competition to that of Umm Kulthum, who is considered to be one of the Arab world's most distinguished singers of the 20th century. Her mysterious death in an automobile accident shocked the public. Journalists spread gossip about her turbulent personal life and an alleged espionage role in World War II.

Amal's vocal talent was discovered at an early age. Once, when her brother Farid received one of Egypt's most famous composers, Dawood Hosni, in their home, the latter overheard her singing in her room, and insisted on seeing her immediately. He then asked her to sing again. He was much impressed by the performance, and suggested the stage name of Asmahan to her. Amal began using that name.

Asmahan rose to fame quickly: she was not even fourteen (or seventeen, since her birth date is disputed) years old when she was introduced to the public at a concert at the prestigious Cairo Opera House. She sang and recorded songs composed by Farid Ghosn, Dawood Hosni, Mohamed El Qasabgi, and Zakariyya Ahmad. At fourteen, Asmahan was invited by an Egyptian record company to make her first album, featuring her first song "Ya Nar Fouadi" by Farid Ghosn.

A variety of teachers advanced her vocal and musical studies. Hosni volunteered to instruct Asmahan on how to play the oud; Qasabgi comments however on the mature level of her sight reading and musicality by the time she performed his work, some years later. However, her brothers wanted her to marry and return to Syria. Her cousin, Hassan al-Atrash travelled to Egypt, bringing with him a different cousin interested in Asmahan, however, once Hassan, who had already married five times, saw Asmahan, he pursued her and she returned to Syria for at least four years, interrupting her musical career.


Since Asmahan sang in Egypt, the lyrics of her songs were written in classical Arabic and in a more colloquial Arabic, but she also sang in the Eastern dialect of Arabic. Asmahan was said to have preciously replicated songs by Umm Kulthoum. When asked to sing about cultural patriotism and love, she sang of Egypt." Since singers and studios depended on the elites, Asmahan had to sing songs on uplifting nationalist themes or in praise of the Egyptian royal family. At the beginning of her career she sang in the nightclub owned by Mary Mansour, Sala Masriyya.

Asmahan's older brother, Fuad, and other Druze relatives considered a career in entertainment for a girl to be disgraceful. For them, culturally, "Egypt was a planetary distance from the small villages of the Druze." and it was difficult for her relatives to accept Asmahan's integration into the heterogeneous Egyptian social scene. The clearly defined divisions, along religious lines, of the Syrian countryside did not operate in Egypt. During the period when she was married to her cousin, Hassan, and then later in 1941, when she remarried him and returned to Egypt her musical career came to a standstill. When the marriage first broke up, she left for Egypt immediately, even before she had obtained the bill of divorce.With her return to Egypt and a singing career, she finally repudiated "respectability" by appearing onscreen (she had not appeared in "Layla Majun" but her voice is featured) leaving both her relatives and Syrian Druze society furious. When her first film, Intisar al-Shabab, was released in Syria, one young Druze shot at the screen when the character played by Asmahan appeared. Asmahan, bi-national or, in contemporary parlance, trans-national by then, had become "a sophisticated foreigner to the young men in the Jabal Druze

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from Arabian Masters (The Golden Age), released May 5, 2021

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