Ratiba El-Hefny

Egyptian operatic soprano Ratiba El-Hefny was born in Cairo on 2 December 1931. She grew up in a musical family and began to play the piano at the age of five. Her father Mohamed El-Hefny wrote many books on music, and her great-grandmother was a German opera singer.

She studied for a diploma at the Higher Institute for Music Teachers in Cairo and then studied in Berlin and Munich. During her career she gave many hundreds of performances as a singer, in Egypt and internationally. She was also interested in Arabic music and learnt to play the qanoun and the oud, and worked on radio and TV programmes to introduce the public to Arabic music.

Her academic career began lecturing at Cairo's Graduate Institute for Music Teachers, and later she became president of the National Cultural Centre at Cairo Opera House and President of the Arab Society for Music.

She worked with children, establishing Egypt's first children's choir in 1961, and later founding the Cairo Opera Children's Choir. She also worked on a music encyclopaedia for children.

Ratiba El-Hefny died on 16 September 2013, aged eighty-two, following a long period of ill health.