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date: 13 December 2019

Ibrāhīm ibn al-Mahdīlocked

  • Eckhard Neubauer

Extract

(b Baghdad, July 779; d Samarra’, July 839). Arab musician. He was a son of the Abbasid Caliph al-Mahdī and a Persian slave at court called Shikla. He became famous for his fine and powerful voice with its range of four octaves, and first took part in court concerts during the reigns of Hārūn al-Rashīd (786–809) and al-Amīn (809–13). Proclaimed caliph in 817 in opposition to al-Ma’mūn (813–33), he had to abdicate after barely two years and went into hiding. In 825 he was pardoned and became a court musician once more under al-Ma’mūn and his successor al-Mu‘taṣim (833–42). He was a follower of the school of Ibn Jāmi‘ and represented a ‘soft’ style, probably influenced by Persian music, which also allowed freedom in rendering older works. His rival Isḥāq al-Mawṣilī accused him of stylistic uncertainty; fragments of their polemic writings are quoted in the Kitāb al-aghānī al-kabīr...

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