Munir Bashir
منير بشير


Munir Bashir was born in 1930 in Mosul, Iraq into a family of Assyrian Christian heritage. His father, Abd al-Aziz, began to teach him the oud from the age of five, together with his elder brother Jamil Bashir. At the age of six, Munir was sent to the Music Institute in Baghdad, which had been founded in 1936 by Hanna Petros. There he continued his oud studies under the great Şerif Muhiddin Targan and would begin his lifelong work of documenting and preserving the traditional music of Iraq. In 1951, Bashir began a teaching assignment at the newly-established Académie des Beaux-Arts in Baghdad, but in 1953 he moved to Beirut, Lebanon, where he was soon to accompany the famous Lebanese singer Fairuz. The same year saw his first solo concert, in Istanbul, and in 1957 he began a tour of several European countries. In the early 1960s Bashir moved to Budapest to study at the Franz Liszt Conservatory under Zoltán Kodály - he was awarded a doctorate in musicology in 1965. Budapest was also where he met his Hungarian wife, who gave birth to their son Omar Bashir in 1970. After Kodály’s death in 1967, Bashir returned to Beirut for several years, but in 1973 the Iraqi Ministry of Information appointed him to its culture committee in Baghdad. The 1980s saw the rise of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, and Bashir eventually left Iraq for good in 1991 to return to Europe, where most of his most famous recordings were made. Munir Bashir died in Budapest in 1997 at the age of 67, having introduced the oud to a Western audience and established it as a solo instrument in its own right. He is perhaps the best known oud player to have ever lived, and his musical legacy is continued by his son Omar.


Selected Recordings

Luth Classique en Iraq
(EMI Pathé 2C 066-95.157)

This vinyl recording from 1974 was volume 1 of the 'Arabesques' series of recordings of Middle Eastern instruments made by Jean-Claude Chabrier. You can listen to this album on the 'Rare Recordings' page at

1. Méditations sur le Maqam Classique Chedd-'Araban 22:30
2. Méditations sur des Nagham-s Traditionelles d'Iraq 22:00

Recital - Solo de Luth Oud (Live in Geneva)
(Club du Disque Arabe AAA003)

This is a recording of a concert in Geneva, which was given during Munir Bashir's first tour of Europe. Also featured on this CD are four pieces by Egyptian oud virtouso Mohamed El Qasabgi.

1. Maqam Nahawend 6:15
2. Maqam Rast 6:35
3. Maqam Kourdi 4:10
4. La Voix de l'Orient (The Voice of the Orient) 9:29
5. Le Oud Fou (The Crazy Oud) 2:30
6. Hayra 5:20
7. L'Orient en Andalousie 3:10
Mohamed El Qasabgi: Taqassim
8. Taqsim Bayati 3:06
9. Taqsim Saba 2:50
10. Taqsim Hidjaz 3:50
11. Dalaâ el-Hawanem (Ladies' Coquetry) 2:59

(Inedit W260050)

This CD consists of a series of solo oud improvisations on Iraqi maqamat, including two composed by Bashir himself, Bashiri and al-Asil. The production quality is excellent and the music inspirational. The only criticism is that the CD notes could be more extensive, with more info on the structure of each maqam.

1. Maqâm Bashiri (Munir Bashir) 12:34
2. Maqâm Benjigâh 11:03
3. Maqâmat Mukhâlif, Awshâr, Sigâh, Sabâ 16:34
4. Maqâm al-Asîl, invocation (Munir Bashir) 4:37
5. Maqâm Râst 8:47

En Concert à Paris/Live in Paris
(Inedit W260006)

This is a recording of a concert by Munir Bashir at the Maison des Cultures du Monde in 1987. Four extended taqasim on various maqamat are presented, and the CD really captures the excitement of a live performance.

1. Maqâm Yekâh, Aoudj 16:17
2. Maqâm Nahawand 14:55
3. Maqâm Bayat 12:30
4. Maqâm Hijâz 12:32

(Inedit W260071)

The pieces on this CD have a mystical flavour, going beyond taqasim to create 'composed improvisations'. Each piece alludes to a number of maqamat, and uses the regional origin of each maqam to create a particular mood. This is an ambitious CD from the acknowledged master of the Iraqi oud.

1. Du'a' - Invocation 27:23
2. Rajâ' - Imploration 12:51
3. Al-Naqâ' - La pureté 13:02
4. Al-Mawlawî 6:57

L'Art du 'Ûd/The Art of the 'Ûd
(Ocora C580068)

A beautiful recording from Ocora, with extensive CD notes by Simon Jargy on the structure of the maqamat used by Munir Bashir on this CD. The range of taqasim includes rarely heard Iraqi maqamat such as Awshâr, Lâmî and Dasht. Note that this is a reissue of the 1971 LP 'Ud Classique Arabe'.

1. Taqsîm en Maqâm Nahawand-Kabîr 9:30
2. Taqsîm en Maqâm Râst 6:30
3. Taqsîm en Maqâm Hijâz Kâr Kurd 3:34
4. Taqsîm en Maqâm Awj 3:03
5. Taqsîm en Maqâm Awshâr 4:40
6. Taqsîm en Maqâm Kurdî 4:25
7. Taqsîm en Maqâm Lâmî 4:01
8. Taqsîm en Maqâm Dasht 5:12

Oud Around the Arab World
(Voix de l'Orient VDL CD 567)

The Iraqi master of the oud presents a series of pieces including a number of Arab folk melodies from Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan, as well as several compositions by Bashir himself. The oud is accompanied by percussion throughout and a wide variety of styles are represented.

1. Halam ya eid 2:52
2. Ya hnayina 4:27
3. Sanabel 2:43
4. Zourouni 2:38
5. Babel 2:28
6. Narine 1:37
7. Halala laya 3:37
8. Chawane 4:47
9. Akafoukim 2:57
10. Johny Guitar 3:06
11. Tal'aa min beit abouha 2:19
12. Oum el khelkhal 4:37
13. Bent el chalabia 2:51
14. Bousra 3:03
15. Beyn el dawali 3:14
16. Himali wali 3:25
17. Khoutwa baad mountassaf el leil 3:33
18. Hourmane 1:55

Flamenco Roots
(Byblos BLCD 1002)

The title track of this CD is an extended piece, in which Bashir improvises on a series of maqamat that were influential in the development of flamenco music. The accompanying notes to the CD explain the background to each maqam used and its geographical significance.

1. Flamenco Roots 26:00
2. Maqam Al Rast 5:52
3. Maqam Huzam 8:55
4. Boulbol 10:10
5. Khayal 9:23

Concert in Budapest 1992
(Voix de l'Orient VDL CD 665)

This is a live recording of a concert by Munir Bashir at the Mátyás Church, Budapest in 1992. The CD features three taqasim and an original composition featuring church bells, organ and vocals accompanying the oud. The recording captures the atmosphere extremely well.

1. Taqsîm in Maqâm Hijâz Kâr 15:17
2. Taqsîm in Maqâm 'Ajam 11:27
3. Taqsîm in Maqâm Rahâwî 9:32
4. Nahawand 14:30

Duo de 'Ûd (with Omar Bashir)
(Auvidis B 6874)

This pairing of Munir Bashir with his son Omar features a selection of Arab urban songs (baladi) recorded in 1994. The second oud is used within each piece to provide a 'dialogue' and echo of the first. Excellent notes to accompany the CD are provided by Simon Jargy.

1. Fôg el-Nakhel ('Above the Palm Trees') 12:38
2. Pastâ Baghdadiyya (Popular Iraqi Tune) 8:00
3. Hanân ('Tenderness') 12:37
4. Dabkâ (Iraqi Dance) 10:35
5. Ishtâr (Assyrian-Babylonian Goddess of Fertility) 13:30
6. Al-Amira al-Andaluciyya ('The Andalucian Princess') 11:35

Ragâ Roots
(Byblos BLCD 1021)

The pieces of music on this CD are inspired by Indian music and were found by Munir Bashir's children after his death in 1997. The oud is used very effectively to mimic some of the sounds of the sitar, and the tracks on this recording anticipate the numerous later collaborations between oud players and Indian musicians.

1. Ragâ Roots 20:30
2. Allah ou Akbar 14:37
3. From the Maqam to the Raga 22:45

The Stockholm Recordings
(Voix de l'Orient VDL CD 688)

The music on this CD was recorded at Radio Stockholm Studios in 1983, and features a number of extended improvisations on various maqamat. A relatively recent release that is well worth adding to the collection.

1. Maqam Hijaz Karkurd 'Hadarat' 23:55
2. Maqam Rast 'Diglah' 21:50
3. Maqam Hijaz Karkurd 'Al Hamra' 7:41


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