Bouzaglo, David

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BOUZAGLO, DAVID (1903–1975), Moroccan payṭan and musician. Born in Casablanca, Rabbi David was endowed with a refined intelligence and distinguished himself as a highly cultured person in the realm of the sacred Judaic writings (Bible, Mishnah, Talmud, and Zohar) and retained most of those texts in his extraordinary memory. This latter capacity became compulsive when his blindness began to develop in 1949. As an outstanding musician, his inborn talent enabled him to learn and master the highly sophisticated art of the Andalusian nūba to the extent that non-Jewish musicians used to seek his teaching and advise. This skillfulness magnified his great contribution to the singing of *bakkashot both as interpreter and mentor. In the framework of this traditional musical genre Buzaglo used his openness and creative mind to introduce innovative elements, which he derived particularly from the style he passionately loved, the so-called sharqī (lit. Oriental, meaning Egyptian, Turkish, and Near Eastern styles). Bouzaglo subtly incorporated the melodies he borrowed from this and other styles, endowing them with a Moroccan flavor.

Because of his dominating personality Bouzaglo became a legend in his lifetime and was in great demand as cantor and payṭan. In 1969, he immigrated to Israel, where his former disciples as well as new ones continued to follow his teaching and, inspired by his spirit, preserve the Jewish musical tradition. Regrettably, he left almost no documentation of his art, always refusing insistently to be recorded, perhaps from a desire to preserve the magic halo of his live performances. Nevertheless, in 1957, in Casablanca, he made an exception and authorized the late Prof. Haim Zafrani to make a recording of a selection of chants and piyyuṭim. The Jewish Music Center of Tel Aviv's Bet Hatefutzot published an album including this unique recorded material in 1984.

[Amnon Shiloah (2nd ed.)]