Google turned to the lyrical world of 20th Century Arabic music for its daily Doodle, on Monday, to celebrate the 110th birth anniversary of Syrian-born Egyptian composer, singer, instrumentalist, actor, and film producer Farid Al-Atrash.
Al-Atrash is widely considered one of the Arab world’s greatest performers of his time.
He left a significant mark on music and film industry in the Middle East, composing more than 220 unique songs and featuring in 31 films over his career.
Al-Atrash earned the nickname ‘King of Oud’, after demonstrating an extraordinary prowess as an oud player, and his songs are seen as classics of modern Arabic music.
Born on 19 October 1910 to a Syrian father and Lebanese mother, his family were the prominent Al-Atrash family from Jabal Druze in the Syrian province of Suwayda.
As a child, he immigrated to Egypt with his mother and siblings to escape the French occupation of Syria, as the family played a significant role in the Syrian resistance movement. Afterwards, they were naturalised by the Egyptian government as citizens.
Al-Atrash was surrounded by music growing up, as his mother was a professional singer and musician. It was this influence at home that inspired him to start an education in music.
By the age of 30, Al-Atrash was regularly performing on Egyptian radio, and he soon began to release his own music. He rose to fame after starring in the 1941 film Intisar Al-Shabab (Triumph of Youth), alongside his sister Asmahan, who was herself a renowned singer and musician.
Over the following decades, he went on to lead a massively successful film career during Egypt’s golden age of cinema.
Al-Atrash composed all the songs in his films, including those sung by other singers, with many considered classics of modern Arabic music. Although overall his films would average about five songs each, many of his earlier films would include approximately ten songs.