Longtime professor, music pioneer dies at 96

Rachel Duthie

Halim El-Dabh, a world-renowned composer and professor of Kent State for the past 48 years, died this weekend at the age of 96.

His generosity and humility is what Denise Seachrist will remember the most about El-Dabh.

“It didn’t matter what title you held or where you came from, he (El-Dabh) treated you like you were the best person,” said the dean of Kent State Stark. “He took a genuine interest in people.”

Regarded as one of Egypt’s most prolific musicians, El-Dabh leaves behind decades of musical talent and a wealth of people who learned from him.

“He will always be with me, but I miss his presence more here than I can say,” said Blake Tyson, a former student of El-Dabh. “He was brilliant, loving and kind. I’m lucky to have known him.”

El-Dabh’s music has traveled worldwide, from his electronic and electro-acoustic works in the 1940s and 1950s to his chamber and orchestral music.

His past work includes his theater piece, “Blue Sky Transmission: A Tibetan Book of the Dead,” which was presented in 2002 in Cleveland and New York City.

His music and light show of the pyramids of Giza, first performed in 1961, continue to be shown there daily.

He started teaching at Kent State in the school of Pan-African Studies in 1969.

Rachel Duthie is the features editor. Contact her at [email protected].