After a career spanning seven decades, the Syrian tenor Sabah Fakhri, one of the greatest interpreters of classical Arab music, died on November 2 in Damascus. He was 88.
His death was announced by the Syrian information ministry and made headlines in the Arab world. Government ministers, politicians and artists attended his funeral in Aleppo, the country’s second city, where he was born in 1933.
Among many paying tribute to him on social media, the Iraqi oud player Naseer Shamma described him as “an immortal hero” with a “gigantic voice.”
Born into a Sufi Muslim family as Sabah al-Din Abu Qaws, Fakhri was the son of a Qur’an reciter and religious vocalist father. He studied music in Aleppo and Damascus before attracting the attention of the violinist Sami Al-Shawwa (1889-1965), who took him on tour of Syrian cities in 1947.