Wednesday, August 17, 2011

היזהרו בבני עניים שמהן תצא שופין או מוצארט...; Daoud Hosni and the Egyptian Karaites

Daoud Hosni (1870-1973) was one of the greatest composers of the modern age and arguably the founder of modern Egyptian music. He was the first in the Middle East to compose music for an entire Opera in Arabic ('Samson and Delilah'). Hosni was born to a Karaite-Jewish family in Cairo with deep roots in the country.

He is credited for giving rise to a new generation of famous singers, most important and famous among them, 'Oum Kulsum'.

Daoud Hosni grew up in Egypt during that period of progress when its youth awakened and struggled to assert itself and the country became a part of Europe. Also, at that time, Mohamed Abdo, “Hero of Egyptian Nationalism”, spread the spirit of freedom in the heart of the Egyptian masses, and Verdi the Italian composer, composed the music of “Aida” for the Egyptian Opera. On the other hand, Abdo El-Hamouli and, Mohamed Osman infused a new style in Arabic music, and Sheikh Salama Hegazi founded the Egyptian Singing Theater.

Daoud Hosni passed away on the 9th of December 1937 after a brief illness, and was buried the 10th, in the Karaite Jewish Cemetery of Bassateen near Cairo and was eulogized by the community's Chief Hakham Tovia Levi-Babovich (pictured) among others.

In 1940 Hakham Babovich (officiated 1934-56) mentioned him in a speech to the community. In his speech he mentioned the Talmudic dictum 1הזהרו בבני עניים כי מהם תצא תורה
and lamented the fact that the community did not have a scholarship fund for the gifted youngsters in their midst (in the same speech he also listed the lack of a proper hebrew school for the youth, home for the aged, home for post-partum women, and a Museum and archive).

Re: Hosni:

הוא היה בעל כשרון גדול ולא היה להוריו הון לשלחו לבית ספר מיוחד.... דמו בנפשכם! לו היה לחוסני מזל טוב והיה לומד חוכמת הניגון באופן מסודר מי יודע לאיזה מדרגה גבוה היה מגיע. אולי היה יוצא לנו
chopin או mozart
או גלינקא, רובינשטיין, או מאייקפר


נדרים פא ע"א

2. see El-Gamil, Yosef TOLEDOT HAYAHDUT HAKERAIT VOL. II, p. 253


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