Hamza El Din is considered the father of modern Nubian music. He was born in Toshka, Nubia, Egypt. Hamza studied at King Fouad University (now the University of Cairo), then enrolled in the Popular University and at Ibrahim Shafiq's Institute of Music (Shafiq was renowned as a master of Arabian music and of the Muwashshah rhyme forms). Following graduation, he continued his studies at the King Fouad Institute for Middle Eastern Music, mastering the oud. Later, with an Italian government grant, he studied Western music and classical guitar at the Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome.
Next he emigrated to the U.S., where he lived and worked as a recording and concert artist, and taught as an ethnomusicologist in several American universities, including the University of Ohio (Athens), the University of Washington (Seattle) and the University of Texas (Austin). Aided by a grant from the Japan Foundation, he went to Tokyo to make a comparative study between the Arabian oud and the Japanese biwa during the 1980's. Today He resides in the San Francisco Bay area, and continues composing, teaching, recording and keeping a busy worldwide concert schedule.
Hamza El Din composed music for the Kronos Quartet and for the play "The Persians" (directed by Peter Sellars). In recent years, he performed at major festivals including Edinburgh, Salzburg, Vienna, Paris, Berlin, Montreux, Barcelona, Los Angeles, Monterey and Festival Cervantino (Guanajuato, Mexico).
Hamza El Din, who has made his life's work reinterpreting the songs of his native region of Nubia on the oud, performed intense music with extreme quietude at Symphony Space on Saturday night...
Ben Ratliff The New York Times, Reviews, March 2, 1999
Music doesn't get much starker than the songs of Hamza El Din, the Nubian musician who performed Saturday night at the Triplex Theater .... He is a virtuoso, but one who uses his technique toward clarity rather than display.
Jon Pareles The New York Times, Reviews, April 19, 1989
(Hamza) began to evolve new musical forms by drawing the moods and colors of Nubian music into the vast technical and aesthetic structure of Arabic classical music. The result is not a loose amalgamation of tow variant forms of music but an entirely new mode of expression. What is especially significant is his full command of the technical possibilities of the Oud combined with new musical patterns and ideas, growing out of the vocal music and drumming of traditional Nubia.
Elizabeth Fernea, Liner notes of Escalay: the Water Wheel, Nonesuch 1998