Jalâl Eddine WEISS
Open cultural horizons
Alsatian by his father, Swiss by his mother, Bernard Weiss
was born in Paris in 1953.
In the beginning of the Seventies, like many of teenagers of his generation,
this guitarist of western classical formation (he entered the "
Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris " in 1965) calls in question
the values of the Western culture and started to hit the road of the
trip. His voyages took him to California, to Morocco, then to the
Antilles; that opened his cultural horizons and was given the name
Julien by a young Venezuellian woman, Isabelle Sotto, daugther
of the founder of kinetic art.
When return to France in 1974, he composed several plays for the traditional
guitar, and took part in a creation of the Tunisian director Sharif
In 1976 in Paris, during a reception at the future minister of the
Egyptian culture, Farouk Hosni, the listening to a disc of the Iraqi
musician Mounir Bachir, large main of Oud (Oriental
lute captivated him so much so that he gave up the traditional guitar
and the jazz harmonies to launch out body and soul in the study of
the Arab lute and the refined laws governing the Oriental micro tonal
music. But very quickly, the limits of the instrument frustrated him
and when he discovered the richnesses offered by the Oriental zither
" the qanûn " the search of Julien Weiss took
all its dimensions. Consequently he crossed the Orient, from Tunis
to Beirut, Baghdad to Cairo, Istanbul to Damas, he followed the teaching
of great Masters. Thus he became the disciple then the friend of Mounir
Bachir in the honor of whom later he composed a " Bagdadian Suite
" interpreted at the time of the Festival of Babylon in Iraq.
Eagerness and musical research
Little by little Julien Weiss, by his eagerness and six
hours of daily hard work, became a virtuoso of the qânun
(trapezoidal zither with pinched cords provided with resonators
in fish skins). He is also an expert of the traditional Arab music,
dominating all complexities of the scales and the Oriental modes.
He devoted himself for years to the study of the musical treaties
of the Ancient Greeks like those of Aristoxenus of Taring and Arabo-Persan
like Al-Kindî, Al-Farabî, Avicenna, as well as the Turkish,
byzantins and even Westerners theorists, then devoted himself to a
comparative study with the empirical practice of the musicians and
singers of the modern Levant.
Thus, he found out during his continual voyages that the concept of
method, far from being fixed within the Arab musical conscience, fluctuates
from one country to another and inside even of an area, alternatives
which hardly seem to embarrass the musicians. he thus sought by all
the means to impose a play where the accuracy takes the step on the
tolerance granted here and there. His research lead him to build in
Izmir an original qanûn, by the Turkish luth maker Egder Gülec:
a judicious system of valves enables him to obtain a division from
the semitone into unequal micro tone of seven parts and eight intervals,
the number of cords carried from78 usual ones to 102 extends the possibilities
of the instrument to 5 octaves and gives him in the low register a
very new color. With this prototype instrument (in fact a series of
9 will follow one another), he can thus accompany with a high precision
any musician . In 1990, he received the Villa Médicis award
"hors les murs", to crown his work on the micro tonality
in Arab music.
Instrumental music and traditional chant
In 1983, he founded the instrumental ensemble Al-Kindî
whose name refers to the philosopher, mathematician and Iraqi astronomer
of IXth century, Abu Yusuf Al-Kindî, father of the scientific
theory of the music arabo-Moslem.
Al-Kîndi is composed like a takht, a group of
soloists whose player of ney Ziyâd Kâdî Amin, lutist
Muhammad Qadri Dalal and the Egyptian percussionnist Adel Shams el
DIN are from now on the pillars. Together, they explore the sacred
and profane traditional repertories by seeking the the most authentic
and least diffused uvres.
Conceived in the beginning like an exclusively musical group, JJ.
Weiss later found out that in Arab music the chant is indissociable
from music, and that in the chant that expresses all the richness
and the nuances of this art. Alone or with Al-Kindî, he consequently
accompanies the great interpreters by the profane or sacred song,
such the Tunisian Loufti Bouchnak, the Iraqi Hussein Ismâïl-Al-Azami,
the Syrians Sabri Moudallal and Omar Sarmini, Adib
Daiykh, or the hymnode of the great Mosque of Damas Sheikh
Hamza Shakkûr. With the latter, he explores the soufi liturgy
of Damas and developped a captivating musical program, sacred music
concert rythmed by the ritual dance of the Whirling dervishes and
presented since its creation in 94 on the most prestigious stages
in the world.
In 1983, he also created a heading on the Arab music in the review
of political sciences "Grand Maghreb ".
In 1986, the Frenchman turned moslem and became Jalal Eddine
in homage to the founder of the order of the whirling dervishes Jâlal
The same year, started a collaboration with Mohamed Aziza, vice-chancellor
of the itinerant Euro-Arab University; he organized concerts
within the framework of the conferences given by the University, and
directed a Festival of Music in Bologna in 87, for the celebration
of Ixth centenial of the first University in Europe. He received in
this occasion the Alma MATER Studiorum medal.
The rigour and the quality of the work of Al-Kindi ensemble , its
original creations inspired by evocative topics of the Levant "
the Aleppian Music room ", " the Passion of Thousand
and One Nights ", " the Sublime Art of Ghazal
", " Poets and Arab Musics of the Time of the Crusades
brought him many discographic distinctions (Golden Diapason,
Choc of the Monde de la musique),
the recognition of the medias
(reports, portraits, documentary produced by the French TV channel
Canal Plus in 1997), and the fidelity of an increasingly larger audience
who is present each year during the presented scene in the Theatre
de la Ville in Paris or in the Queen Elizabeth Hall in
The result of the " dream of the Levant"
Pushing always further his immersion in the Levantine culture,
Julien Weiss acquired in 1995 the house of his dreams, a Mamelouk
Mansion of XIVth, situated in the heart of the ancient Syrian city
of Aleppo, near its thousand-year-old Souks and their Oriental
scents. In this, magic and stimulant place when the prestigious international
tours and the recordings discographic leave him some time, he works
on the preparation of new repertories, on discovering ignored voices
and traditions, with the observation of the many mystical brotherhoods
who surround him and is impassioned for architectural and decorative
In his Aleppian room of music, renewing with ancestral traditions
of this mythical, famous city known as the most music loving city
in the Arab world, he regularly invites musicians, neighbors or foreigners
of passage who around a cup of tea or coffee share hours lasting the
delights of the purest traditional Arab music wether sacred or profane.
Today, the adventure of Julien Jâlâl Eddine Weiss continues;
the impossible dream of the French musician: to be recognized like
one as of theirs by the great names of the Arab music, became a reality
in the West and also in Babylon, Baalbeck, or Fès, where his
name is from now on related to the safeguard and the development of
the Arab musical inheritance and make him a recognized worker on the
July 14th 2001, Julien Jâlal Eddine Weiss has been awarded as
Officer of Arts and Letters by Catherine Tasca, French Minister