“Abdul the Bulbul Emir (I)”


The heroic Moslem Abdul and the gallant Russian Ivan Skavinsky Skevar chance to meet. It doesn't take them long to begin duelling, which inevitably results in the deaths of both. Their burials and the mourning for them are described


Often listed as being of unknown authorship -- probably because French's original composition (set in the Crimean War) was stolen and printed without his name.

Conflict between Russia and the Ottoman Empire was almost constant in the nineteenth century, as the Tsar sought to expand his realm and the feeble Turks tried to hold onto their European possessions. Full-fledged wars were few, however, making it clear that this song refers to the Crimean War (which pitted England, France, and the Ottomans against the Russians).

Abdul's cry, "Allah Akbar," means "God is great," and is a common Islamic slogan. "Bulbul Amir" means "nightingale chieftain" in Turkish -- but it is far from certain that French knew this. - RBW

Historical references

  • 1853-1854 - Crimean War

Same tune

  • Frank Crumit, "The Return of Abdul Abulbul Amir" (Victor 22482, 1930)
  • Frank Crumit, "The Grandson of Abdul Abulbul Amir" (HMV [UK] B-4331, 1933)

Cross references


  • Ernest Hare, "Abdul Abulbul Amir" (Edison 52284, 1928)
  • Frank Crumit, "Abdul Abulbul Amir" (Victor 20715, 1927)


  1. Sandburg, pp. 344-346, "Abdul, the Bulbul Ameer" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Lomax-ABFS, pp. 341-343, "Ye Ballade of Ivan Petrofsky Skevar" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Spaeth-ReadWeep, pp. 128-131, "Abdul Abulbul Amir" (1 text, 2 tunes)
  4. Silber-FSWB, p. 21, "Abdul, The Bulbul Amir" (1 text)
  5. Fuld-WFM, p. 84, "Abdulla Bulbul Ameer"
  7. Roud #4321
  8. BI, LxA341


Alternate titles: “Abdul, The Bulbul Ameer”; “Ivan Skavinsky Skevar”
Author: credited to Percy French
Earliest date: 1877 (copyright under the title "Abdulla Bulbul Ameer")