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Ethiopian nun and pianist dies aged 99

by Kelly Valencia
Emahoy Tsegué Maryam Guèbrou.png - Banner image
Emahoy Tsegué Maryam Guèbrou

Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, a renowned composer who was also a nun, has passed away at the age of 99.

The Ethiopian artist and believer died in Jerusalem where she had lived in seclusion at an Ethiopian monastery for almost 40 years.

She composed more than 150 original pieces of piano, organ, opera and chamber ensembles and her music has been used in Oscar-nominated documentaries and Netflix dramas.

Born to a noble family, Guèbrou was sent to a boarding school in Switzerland for ten years where she started her music studies. She then returned to Ethiopia and experienced life as a prisoner of war.

At the age of 19, Guèbrou fled the communist regime in Ethiopia to Jerusalem, where she worked for the Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarch.

Her most well-known compositions include The Homeless Wanderer and The Mad Man's Laughter.

Guèbrou's debut album, released in 1967, was accompanied by donations to those in need and was released when Ethiopia had a thriving jazz and classical music scene.

A compilation of her work was released in 2006 of Buda Musique’s long-running Ethiopiques series, a French record label.

She continued to utilise her music earnings to support Ethiopian children orphaned by war and established the Emahoy Tsege Mariam Music Foundation to aid underprivileged children in studying music.

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