Ibrahim Maalouf’s music therapy

21. April 2015
Tinatin Baghashvili

Ibrahim Maalouf is a trumpet player and composer born in Beirut, Lebanon. He grew up in France and is currently living in Paris. This spring the musician travelled to Estonia to perform at Jazzkaar. His show opened the festival and the profound and intense music captivated Estonian audience at Telliskivi’s Vaba Lava. However, it was not his first time to visit Tallinn. He has been at Jazzkaar a few years ago. “I like this festival, because it is very open to every kind of jazz music.” 

Ibrahim Maalouf and his band performed exclusively for the Jazzkaar audience with a recent project dedicated to Umm Kulthum (Egyptian musician) who inspired many musicians in Arab world. It is a significantly impressive combination of symphonic and jazz music. 


Ibrahim has been composing music since he was very young, being inspired by his cultural origin. As the music to him is what feelings sound like, composing is a long process. “Every composition of mine carries different ideas and stories behind it. It’s not like I create a melody and immediately I name the composition.  It is a long process. Each one of the songs I have been working on has a story from my life.” Maalouf’s music has a deep meaning of existence. His music tells a lot about his life adventures. For example, the song “Beirut” is about individual passion. Ibrahim was twelve years old when walking in the streets of Beirut and creating the melody. For the first time in his life he saw burned walls and a destroyed district. Young Ibrahim was scared of seeing military positions on the way and ran back rapidly. Once he came back, he was listening to Led Zeppelin in his Walkman. “I kept the melody in my mind for many years. I decided to bring out Led Zeppelin in the composition to give the whole music a meaning. It was a long walk in the streets on Beirut that ceased with the tribute to Led Zeppelin.”

Maalouf was born into a family of intellectuals and artists; he is the son of innovator trumpeter Nassim Maalouf and pianist Nada Maalouf. His dad was the first teacher for little Ibrahim and it affected his whole life. After graduating, Ibrahim Maalouf started making a living in music. It was a way to express personal feelings regarding childhood and difficulties in life. Consequently, the music was therapy for the composer. “I had a feeling that music made my life easier. In the beginning it was healing me, later on the music turned into enjoyment. I consider music bringing all the possibilities to be happy, to dance and sing, to laugh and enjoy.” Maalouf’s music has a particular influence to his family. His little daughter likes singing as much as his father, who is singing all the time. All in all, this is one of his dreams in life for his daughter to be a beautiful woman who has her own home, work, and freedom to feel happy and enjoy her life. 

The composer uses the same composing structure for the music made for pictures. He captures the main idea of the scenes and unites them with conformable melody. He says that the time frame is shorter because of production rules, but on the other hand Maalouf feels free to create music with people he enjoys collaborating. “I do not like being forced to do something, therefore I always work fruitful and feel independent in music.”

Currently Lebanese and French musician, Ibrahim Maalouf is implementing a world tour whilst working on two albums. Ibrahim and his band executed one album at Jazzkaar festival. The very recent project is connected with the Egyptian musician and actress Umm Kulthum. He considers Kulthum’s vocal very unique and sensitive: “I chose Umm Kultum’s composition called “1001 Nights”. It will present the symphony adaptation with jazz music with the sense of freedom of music.” Another album will be dedicated to female and freedom notion perception. “The second album will be about women’s importance, they’re the ones who give birth and maintain life on Earth.” At the same time Ibrahim works on the album of English and Egyptian singer Natasha Atlas. All mentioned projects will be released in September. Moreover, the musician strives with three movie soundtracks, different projects with dancing companies and music teaching in France. 

Ibrahim Maalouf has never abandoned the Arabic trumpet. Still, he continues exploring music from other angles, in particular improvisation and composition with Arabic music and jazz. His extraordinary talent and interactive relation with the audience possess the stage.  Utilization of the unique and very sensitive music touches the listeners and captures the moment of life and existence. He composes the music with tactile and profound approach. The artist leads the new movement of improvisation onto the classical studies. The abandoned music genre has been brought out by Ibrahim Maalouf with the precise intention of creating a new wave in music. 


Ibrahim Maalouf

Friday, April 17th at 20:00 at Vaba Lava


Ibrahim Maalouf – trumpet, keyboard

Francois Delporte – guitar

Eric Legnini – keyboard

Stephane Galland – drums