Lillie Gordon

  • Fellowship Dates 2010-2010
  • Research Topic Negotiating Modernity: The Adoption and Adaptation of the Violin in Egyptian Music
  • Fellow or Grant Type Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
  • Affiliation Pre-doctoral candidate University of California, Santa Barbara

In 1869, Egypt entered the new colonial and commercial world economy through the opening of the Suez Canal. The Ottoman Khedive Isma‘il marked this occasion not through the construction of a monument or the launching of a warship but by building the Cairo Opera House. In Egypt, economic and cultural pressures from Europe and a direct colonial presence led to the adoption of European musical practices in both institutional contexts and popular performances. These adoptions often came with adaptation. Far from embracing new practices by discarding established modes of making music, Egyptians molded the new products and influences to fit local aesthetics and values.

This multifaceted research examines stories of the violin and violin players from a number of perspectives. It looks at the history of the instrument’s use in Egypt, contemporary playing techniques, pedagogical practices, and institutional and personal ideological frameworks. While the violin has a long history in Egypt, nearly 150 years, and is abundantly included in the performance of art music, religious genres and contemporary popular music, no aspect of the use, history, pedagogy or ideology surrounding the violin in Egypt appears in Western music scholarship. Research methodologies that include archival investigation, informal conversations and music will facilitate exploration from various perspectives on the effects of colonialism through communication and exchange with Egyptian musicians and music experts.

TopicsHistory, Music, Popular CultureThemePeople & SocietyHistoric PeriodKhedival, Modern


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