|Biographical detail : ||Egyptian musician and composer
Hamza, an oud or ‘ud’, a short-necked lute with six courses of paired strings traditionally plucked with an eagle-feather quill, played and composed, re-invented the musical culture of Nubia and carried his own style of music worldwide.
In his hypnotic music, based in his research into the traditions of Nubia, an ancient North African kingdom on the upper Nile, which was a cradle of civilisation, Hamza with his gentle singing style and a spiritual philosophy that sprang from his Sufi roots created a meditative music.
He performed dressed in white, with a white turban and stood out as a cosmopolitan musician and appeared at major festivals from Los Angeles to Edinburgh to Montreux.
Hamza came, in 1962, to America. In 1971 his album “Escalay (The Water Wheel)” was released on the Nonesuch Explorer label and then the “Eclipse” (Rykodisc). In his last album, “A Wish” (Sounds True), released in 1999, he revisited the theme of Nubia and its vanishing culture – always adamant about his Nubian identity.
He moved, in 1981, beginning with a love affair with Japanese people and their culture, and teaching as a professor of Nubian music at Tokyo University. He returned intermittently to the US, eventually settling in the San Francisco Bay area.
Hamza’s music was used for movie soundtracks and for dance pieces by the Paris Opera Ballet, Maurice Bejart Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet and also composed music for a version of the Aeschylus play “The Persians”.
Initially studied electrical engineering but being drawn to music Hamza studied Arabic and Western music and classical guitar and created music that fused rhythms and inflections.
Born Hamza Alla Eddin in Wadi Halfa near the Egypt-Sudan border, a humble, open-minded man with a warm smile and a generous spirit died of complications after his surgery in Berkeley, California.