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…

But is it an oud?

By Salvatore Morra This oud, which arrived in England in 1867 thanks to some international diplomacy, may be the oldest surviving instrument of the North African oud family (today often referred to as kwitra, oud ramal and oud ‘arbi). It is not yet clear where it was made, whether in Algeria or Tunisia, or in Egypt on…

Cairo to London, 1867

By Rachel Beckles Willson England’s first oud arrived in 1867 thanks to some obscure international diplomacy involving Ismail Pasha, the Khedive of Egypt. The French state mounted its second Exposition Universelle in Paris that year, and it involved not only massive displays of French industry, but also exhibits from other nations. Many of these presented…

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.