It has been long since I last mentioned the Andalusian music on this blog, which is a shame as it is my preferred music style besides Algerian Chaabi.
Cheikh Larbi Bensari was born in Tlemcen between 1863 and 1872 and soon became the city’s style master.
He began his active life as an apprentice barber but soon switched to music and trained under Cheikh Boudhalfa’s control. He learned to play the violon, the mandolin, the gnibri and the rbeb; and sung several Andalusian styles such as the Gharnati, Hawzi, Sanaa and 3rubi. Apparently, he even sung in Kabyle.
Larbi Bensari represented Algeria at the World’s Fair in Paris (1900) and played at the inauguration of the Grande Mosquée of Paris in 1926 (invited by Si Kaddour Benghabrit). His participation to the Cairo Congress of Arab Music (1932) made him really famous.
Bensari stopped singing in 1954 and settled in Morocco for some time. He died in Tlemcen ten years later on December 27th, 1964. The city of Tlemcen organized several concerts last year to commemorate the 49th anniversary of his death.
Cheikh Larbi Bensari is probably Andalusian music’s major figure in modern Algeria. Famous Algerian musicians such as Abdelkrim Dali and Sadek ElBedjaoui had been his pupils, and his sons, Redouane and Mahmoud, are also known musicians. The Ministry of Culture re-published his work during the “Tlemcen Capital of Islamic Culture” event (2011).
Below is a famous song he wrote, sang by Brahim Hadj Kacem.