Ali Osman

(b. 1958, Omdurman – d. 16 February 2017, Cairo).

Sudanese composer, later resident in Egypt, of mostly orchestral, chamber and vocal works that have been performed in Europe and the Middle East.

Mr. Osman began as a rock musician in 1971 and taught himself drum kit and guitar. He studied double bass with Rodney Slatford at the Conservatory of the Academy of Arts in Cairo from 1978–82, where he earned his diploma and where he also studied composition with Gamal Abdel-Rahim from 1979–86 and earned his BMus in composition and music theory with distinction and his MMus in arts. He then had postgraduate studies in analysis, counterpoint and music history with Awatif Abdel-Karim there from 1986–90 and earned his MMus. He later earned his PhD at the Conservatory of the Academy of Arts in Cairo in 2009.

Among his honours were Third Prize in the competition Abu Bakr Khairat of the Ministry of Culture in Cairo (1995, for Song for Chamber Orchestra) and a scholarship from the organisation Pro Helvetia (2000). His music has been performed in Austria, Egypt, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK.

He was also active in other positions. As a conductor, he served as assistant conductor of the Light and Hope Orchestra in Cairo from 2001–17. As a researcher, his specialty was music from the Sudan. As a writer, he contributed numerous articles to publications in Egypt and co-wrote with Samha El-Kholy and other scholars the series of books Egyptian Contemporary Music (2000–03, Ministry of Culture, Cairo).

He lectured on analysis, composition, counterpoint, and harmony at the Conservatory of the Academy of Arts in Cairo from 1990–2017 and at the Higher Institute of Arabic Music of the Academy of Arts in Cairo from 1999–2017.

He lived in Egypt from 1978–2017.



COMPLETE LIST OF WORKS (dates unavailable for arrangements)


A Day in the Life of a Shepherd in the Sudan (symphonic poem), 1986

Dance, symphonic band, 1992

Fantasy, symphonic band, 1993

Shepherd Song, violin, string orchestra, 1993 (version of chamber work)

Song for Chamber Orchestra, small orchestra, 1993

From the South, flute, marimba, string orchestra, 1994 (version of chamber work)

Rhapsody, flute, oboe, violin, string orchestra, 1994 (version of chamber work)

Shadows, flute, piano/celesta, string orchestra, 1994

A Trip on the Nile from South to North (symphonic poem), 1994

Do not depart, flute, oboe, clarinet, string orchestra, 1995 (version of vocal work)

Images from Gaza, flute, oboe, clarinet, string orchestra, 1995 (version of vocal work)

Symphonic Dance, symphonic band, 1996

Dance, small orchestra (6 winds, 6 brass, 2 percussion), 1999

Rhythmic Waves, flute, clarinet, piano, 4 percussion, string orchestra, 1999

An Hour in Boswil, flute, oboe, 2 percussion, string orchestra, 2000

Three Songs, flute, oboe, clarinet, string orchestra, 2002 (version of vocal work)


Argument, piccolo, tuba, snare drum (+ suspended cymbal), 1983

Aria, clarinet, piano, 1983

Aria, trumpet, piano, 1983

Five Little Pieces, clarinet, piano, 1983

Invention, clarinet, piano, 1983

Mawal Masri – Egyptian Mawwal (vocal improvisations), clarinet, piano, 1983

String Quartet, 1983

Suite, double bass, 1983

Fugue, oboe, piano, 1984 (also version for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, 1984)

Quintet, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, bassoon, 1984

Sonata, violin, piano, 1984

Two Two-Part Inventions, violin, cello, 1987

Two Three-Part Inventions, violin, viola, cello, 1987

Shepherd Song, oboe, piano, 1993 (also version for violin, string orchestra)

From the South, flute, piano, 1994 (also version for flute, marimba, string orchestra)

Rhapsody, violin, piano, 1994 (also version for flute, oboe, violin, string orchestra)

Duo, flute, oboe, riq (tambourine from the Middle East), 2000

Trio, clarinet, cello, piano, 2000

Dance of the Elephants, 8 double basses, 2002


Vocalise, soprano, piano, 1984

Do not depart (text by Farouk Gweda), soprano, piano, 1995 (also version for flute, oboe, clarinet, string orchestra)

Images from Gaza (text by Salah Abdel Sabour), soprano, piano, 1995 (also version for flute, oboe, clarinet, string orchestra)

Sad Vibrations (vocalise), soprano, oboe, harp, 2 percussion, string orchestra, 1999

La-yaly (improvisational text), soprano, 3 clarinets, bass clarinet, oud (lute from the Middle East), tablā from Egypt/riq, 2001

Atmospheres (vocalise), soprano, 4 recorders, tablā from Egypt (+ riq), 2002

Three Songs (text by Salah Abdel Sabour), soprano, piano, 2002 (also version for flute, oboe, clarinet, string orchestra)

My Bohemian Existence (text by Arthur Rimbaud), baritone, tuba, guitar (+ electric guitar), percussion, 2003

Sufi Hymns (vocalise), alto, clarinet, viola, piano, 2003


Question No. 1, 1983

Four Little Pieces, 1987

Question No. 2, 1995

El-Maqamas el-Masri – Egyptian Maqam, 2000 (version of work for harpsichord)


El-Maqamas el-Masri, 2000 (also version for piano)


The Castle Slaughter (Mohammed Abdel Wahab), orchestra

Five Little Pieces (Gamal Abdel-Rahim), orchestra

Longa Riyad (Riad El-Sonbaty), orchestra

Tablā Concerto (Siegfried Fink), tablā from Egypt, piano


Shepherd Song (original version); Question No. 1; Question No. 2; Aria (clarinet, piano); Five Little Pieces; El-Maqamas el-Masri (original version); Rhapsody (original version); Invention; Mawal Masri; From the South (second version); An Hour in Boswil. Christie Stoll, flute; Martin Stöckli, oboe; Andreas Ramseier, clarinet; Karel Boeschoten, violin; József Gazsi, viola; David Gattiker, cello; Matthias B. Frey, double bass; Jean-Claude Charrez, piano; Otja Kaufmann, harpsichord; Thomas Klee, percussion (SRG SSR, 2000)