Majdi al-’Aqili started becoming interested in music in secondary school and despite his father’s objections, he studied oud with Bakri Kurdi and traditional music with Ali Darwish and Omar al-Batsh. His musical life in the 1930s varied widely. In 1935, he created a seven-stringed instrument called gankaran which was similar to the oud and could also be bowed. A year later, he traveled to Italy to study Western classical music theory and in 1939, he returned to Aleppo to start teaching music in schools.
In 1942, al-’Aqili was invited to Jordan to train the army band where he remained for two years after which he returned to his native Aleppo to resume teaching. Always an educator, he was also the director of the Oriental Music Institute in Damascus from 1956 until they closed in 1959.
1947 heralded the start of his career in radio. He moved to Damascus and was pivotal in the establishment of the Syrian Radio. He was also the director of Aleppo Radio in 1955 and was an advisory member for The General Organization of Radio and Television in 1962.
Also a prolific author and composer, he wrote many books on music, including: The Language of String (1940), The Language of Music (1950), Arab National Songs (1951), Music and Songs of Childhood (1952), Al-Kindi (1964), Arab Listening (1969). He composed 25 muwashahat, three of which are presented at today’s concert: “Ayyuha al-Saqi”, “Lao Kunta Tadri”, and “Jadaka al-Ghaithu”, all written in 1948.