Cheikh Larbi Bensari

Cheikh larbi bensariIt 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).

You can watch this video for an excerpt of his life or check out one of these links (1 and 2). You can also visit the blog and FB page of the Ahbab Larbi Bensari Association.

Below is a famous song he wrote, sang by Brahim Hadj Kacem.


10 thoughts on “Cheikh Larbi Bensari

  1. Did you know that يا ظريف الطول or zareef al tool, is a palestinian popular (old) song?
    It seems that Bensari wrote this song after his pilgrimage to Makkah in the early 1900s. In those times, the pilgrimage was a long journey, including a visit to Al Masjid Al Aqsa too.

    • Yes I read that on the comments under the video on Youtube.

      Imagine how many visas one must request (and how many one would be denied) if we still had to travel by land from Algeria to Mecca through Jerusalem and then the same route on the return.

  2. I was going to mention Trudeau in my previous comment!

    I guess, as people are not used to have leaders showing them what they feel as respect and consideration, they grow quickly enthusiastic about politicians such as Trudeau and then are disappointed when they find out about his positions on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

    I am only depressed by DZ news. I can handle the rest 🙂

    PS: Thanks for the story of the song.Learnt something today 🙂 (WP blocked the comment even though it included only one link, strange!)

    • Don’t mind about WP 😉
      Yes they gathered all around the same cause
      And sure we need leaders like those : young, strong and working hard for their own countries and people needs. But for example the video of Trudeau for the Invictus games a couple of days before went viral, even on TwitterDZ. But those games are for veteran soldiers. Wounded or injured on the battlefild. And guess where?

      • we need leaders like those : young, strong and working hard for their own countries and people needs.

        You probably just gave the explanation here… Analysis will wait till admiration time is over.

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