Riyad Al Sunbati was born in Faraskur, Egypt in 1906, the only boy out of nine children. His father was a singer and oud player, who taught the young Riyad to sing when he accompanied him on tour. This tuition was supplemented by oud lessons from Mohammed Shaaban. The family later moved south to Mansoura, where Riyad began to develop a reputation for his singing, and where he also met the singer Umm Kulthum for the first time - this was to be the start of a long and fruitful collaboration. In 1928 Riyad wrote his first song, and later that year he moved to Cairo, where he took a position teaching oud in a music school. In 1935 he joined Egyptian National Radio and from this point on his career as a songwriter went from strength to strength. Over the next four decades he wrote numerous legendary songs for Umm Kulthum and other vocalists, as well as many instrumental compositions. He was also a highly inventive improviser on the oud with a very distinctive style that has had a major influence on the present generation of oud players in Egypt and beyond. Riyad Al Sunbati passed away in 1981.