The International Music Council has learned with great sorrow about the death of the President of the Arab Academy of Music (League of Arab States), Dr. Ratiba Al-Hefny, on Monday 16 September 2013 following a lengthy illness. We publish below the obituary received from AAM Secretary General Kifah Fakhouri.
Dr. Al-Hefny will be remembered as a pioneer in the contemporary musical movement of the Arab region. She presided the Arab Academy of Music (AAM) since 1997 and was the first female to hold this prestigious position. In 1993, she joined the Executive Board of the AAM as representative of Egypt and remained until her death.
Her musical career was full of action, creativity, and initiatives. Among the numerous positions she held was the post of Artistic Advisor to the President of Cairo Opera House and the Secretary General and Rapporteur of the annual Arab Music Conference and Festival which she established in 1992. In spite of her severe illness , she successfully organized the last Arab Music Conference and Festival, November 2012. In 1988, she was appointed as the first President of the new Cairo Opera House and stayed in this post until retirement. Before that, she was the Dean of the Egyptian Higher Institute of Arab Music and the Artistic President of the Egyptian Music and Opera House. She took as well a major role in the establishment of the Higher Institute of Musical Arts in Kuwait.
Music circles in Egypt and abroad knew Dr. Al-Hefny as the founder of the first children choir in Egypt . She also established Umm Kulthum Ensemble for Arab Music and Al-Hefny Centre for Musical Studies in memory of her father, Dr. Mahmoud Al-Hefny, the first Arab musicologist.
Furthermore, Dr. Ratiba Al-Hefny was known as a renowned soprano opera singer with a long list of opera appearances in Egypt and worldwide. As a first class media figure, Arab TV viewers knew her through her weekly TV program "With Arab Music" which ran non-top for 22 years.
Dr. Al-Hefny studied opera singing at Munich College of Music and Theatre and Choral Conducting and Vocal Pedagogy in Augsburg College . She completed her post graduate work in Folk Music at Humboldt University.
As an author and music researcher, she left behind quite a number of notable publications.
Few years ago, Egypt honored her by giving her the State Award.
Surely, her death will be a great loss to all those who knew her.
Dr. Kifah Fakhouri
Arab Academy of Music