Alexandria to Brussels, 1879

By Rachel Beckles Willson There’s a bit of a mystery surrounding this oud. Victor Mahillon, curator of the Museum of Musical Instruments at the Brussels Conservatoire, acquired it from Alexandria in 1879. Saskia Willaert, curator of African Collections at the museum, has gathered sources relating to the purchase, and from these we learn that Mahillon…

The oldest surviving oud?

By Karim Othman Hassan To date this instrument is the oldest Arab oud we know, and it may be the oldest surviving Arab string instrument at all. Its significance is all the greater for its having 7 double courses, which means that we can refer to it as an oud al mukmal, the term used…

Egypt to France c.1800

By Rachel Beckles Willson An oud travelled to Europe as a consequence of Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798. Musician and writer Guillaume André Villoteau (1759-1839) had joined the 159 men Napoleon took along with him as a “Commission of the Sciences and Arts”, and while in Egypt he collected instruments to bring back home…

Alexandria to Brussels, 1839

The second oud in Europe whose journey we know about arrived thanks to the Belgian musician and scholar François-Joseph Fétis.