Malek Jandali

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Malek Jandali
مالك جندلي
Malek Jandali composer and pianist.JPG
Background information
Birth name Malek Jandali
Born (1972-12-25) December 25, 1972 (age 42)
Waldbröl, West Germany
Origin Homs, Syria
Genres Classical
Classical Arabic
Film music
Occupation(s) Composer, pianist
Instruments Piano
Years active 1981–present
Labels Soul b Music
Notable instruments
Steinway & Sons

Malek Jandali (Arabic: مالك جندلي‎, mālik jandalī) (born 1972) is a Syrian - American [1][2] composer and pianist. He has performed music based on the Hurrian songs, which are inscribed on clay tablets discovered in Ugarit, Syria, and are thought to be the oldest notated music in the world.[3]


Malek Jandali was born in Germany and raised in Homs, Syria. He began his musical career as a pianist. He studied at the Arab Institute of Music in Damascus with Vladimir Zaritsky[clarification needed] and Victor Bunin of the Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatory.[4][5] Jandali won first place in the Syrian National Young Artists Competition in 1988, and in 1995 received a scholarship to attend North Carolina School of the Arts under Eric Larsen.[5] He graduated from Queens University, where he studied under Paul Nitsch and received the Outstanding Musical Performer Award of the school.[5] He studied composition and orchestration with Eddie Horst, Harry Bulow, Lawrence Dillon and Richard Prior.[5] In 2004 he received his master's degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.[4]


As performer[edit]

Video showing a performance at Carnegie Hall and an interview with the Voice of America.

Jandali has performed as a soloist in London, Cairo, Damascus, Istanbul, Paris and Atlanta, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.[6] and in the Stude Hall of the Shepherd School of Music[3] at Rice University in Houston and at the Wiener Konzerthaus[7] in Vienna and the Kaufman Center[1] in New York City. He has performed with orchestras including the Cairo Symphony Orchestra, the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra,[1] the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,[8] Ludwig Symphony Orchestra and the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra at Damascus Opera House.[citation needed]

As composer[edit]

Jandali has composed works ranging from solo instrumental pieces to large ensemble and orchestral works.[9] He has a special interest in Arab music and combines the maqamat or modes with western harmony in his piano and orchestral compositions.[5]

He released his first album of compositions for piano and orchestra, Echoes from Ugarit, in June 2009. The album was briefly in the international music charts of the United Arab Emirates.[10] The title track is based on a hymn to Nikkal, one of the Hurrian songs inscribed on cuneiform clay tablets discovered in Ugarit, Syria, and thought to date from 1400 BC and thus to be the oldest notated music in the world.[10]

In April 2011 Jandali wrote Watani Ana (I am my Homeland). In June his scheduled appearance at the annual convention of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) was cancelled, reportedly because he planned to perform Watani Ana.[11] The initial statement issued by the ADC did not make clear the reason for the cancellation,[12] and attracted criticism from other organizations including the Arab-American Institute.[11] The ADC issued a further statement in April 2012, in which it said that it had reached "an amicable resolution" with Jandali.[13]

In July 2011 Jandali performed Watani Ana at a protest in Lafayette Park.[14] Shortly afterwards, his parents, Mamoun Jandali and Linah Droubi, were severely beaten and their home in Homs was ransacked. Jandali blamed Syrian security forces for the attack, and told reporters that as his mother was beaten, she was told "we're going to teach you how to raise your son."[15] Photographs published on Facebook showed evidence that the couple had been brutally beaten.[16] In September two armed attackers broke into the house and again ransacked it; Jandali's parents were not there as they had fled Syria after the previous attack.[16]

In early 2012 Jandali released his album Emessa (Homs), which he dedicated to "the Syrian people and their noble quest for freedom - especially the people of Homs".[17] The album includes his Freedom Qashoush Symphony, named for Ibrahim Qashoush, who wrote a song popular with Syrian protesters and who was killed and had his vocal cords torn out.[17]


Jandali received prizes including the 1997 Outstanding Musical Performer Award from Queens University.[citation needed]

  • National Young Artists Competition - First Prize - Syria, 1988
  • The Stegner Foundation for the Arts Fellowship
  • Queens University - Outstanding Musical Performer - USA, 1997
  • The 2011 Freedom of Expression Award - CAIR Los Angeles, USA, 2011[18]
  • Culture and Arts Achievement Award, Network of Arab American Professionals of New York, 2012
  • The 2013 GUSI International Peace Prize[19]
  • The 2014 Gold Medal from the Global Medal Awards [20]



  • Echoes from Ugarit, 2009
  • Emessa (Homs), 2012
  • Syrian Symphony, 2014

EPs and singles[edit]

  • Watani Ana (I am my Homeland), 2011
  • Syria – Anthem of the Free, 2013
  • Ya Allah (O God), 2013[citation needed]
  • The Moonlight, 2015


  1. ^ a b c Raya Jalabi (25 October 2013). Malek Jandali: "I thought: what can I do? How can I help? All I have is music". The Guardian. Archived 26 October 2013.
  2. ^ CU Boulder. [1]. CU Boulder. September 2014.
  3. ^ a b [s.n.] (8 October 2010). The Front Row - Composer Malek Jandali. KUHF Houston Public Radio. Accessed August 2013.
  4. ^ a b Molouk Y. Ba-Isa (27 May 2008). Digital 'Echos From Ugarit' to Be Heard All Over the World. Arab News. Accessed August 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d e M. Kay Siblani (9 May 2008). From Ugarit to the world. The Arab American News. Accessed August 2013.
  6. ^ [s.n.] (14 November 2010). Malek Jandali, pianist in concert: Echoes from Ugarit The Oldest Music in the World. The Kennedy Center. Accessed August 2013.
  7. ^ Mariam Polding (13 June 2012). Truth, freedom and classical music. Arab News. Archived 13 June 2012.
  8. ^ BMG Foundation presents Amwaj with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra: 19 June 2012. Cadogan Hall. Archived 9 May 2012.
  9. ^ Biography. Malek Jandali (self-published). Archived 25 August 2008.
  10. ^ a b Stephen Starr (8 April 2011). Syrian tablet fragment shatters long-held beliefs about origin of music. The National (Dubai). Accessed August 2013.
  11. ^ a b [AAI] (10 June 2011). AAI Statement on the ADC Controversy Over Malek Jandali's Performance. Arab American Institute. Accessed August 2013.
  12. ^ [adc] (9 June 2011). Statement Regarding Malek Jandali and the ADC Convention. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Accessed August 2013.
  13. ^ [s.n.] (12 April 2012). ADC Issues Statement on Malek Jandal. MECN. Accessed August 2013.
  14. ^ Shomial Ahmad (12 August 2011). Syrian American musician will continue to perform, despite threats. PBA. Archived 2 October 2012.
  15. ^ Tom Watkins (30 July 2011). Syrian musician blames security forces for his parents' beating. CNN. Accessed August 2013.
  16. ^ a b Joe Sterling (27 September 2011). Musician: Syrian security raids family home. CNN. Accessed August 2013.
  17. ^ a b [s.n.] (4 May 2012). Syrian pianist dedicates work 'for freedom' in Homs. BBC News. Accessed August 2013.
  18. ^ [Ahram Online] (3 Nov 2011). Malek Jandali honoured with Freedom of Expression Award. Ahram Online. Accessed August 2013.
  19. ^ [s.n.] (9 November 2013). Past UAP president Yolanda Reyes wins Gusi Peace Prize Int'l. The Philippine Star. Archived 11 February 2013.
  20. ^ Global Music Awards (14 December 2014). Music Awards: Winners - December 2014. Global Music Awards. Accessed December 2014.
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