Sidi Bou Said is a small suburban town near Tunis. The town itself is an attractive tourist location known for the extensive use of blue and white colors on buildings. Here is located the former palace of Rodolfe d’Erlanger, a wealthy French banker who built his manse overlooking the sea between 1909 and 1921. He named it Ennejma Ezzahra (sometimes spelled Nejma Ezzohara).
The grand structure now houses the Centre des Musiques Arabes et Méditerranéennes, a music school. He helped to revive the musical genre known as ‘ma’luf’ during the 1920s. He transposed the Arabic musical scale to that of Western music, maintaining his own orchestra of Arab musicians to do so. He is also known for his six-volume work about the history of Arabic music.
Rodolfe was an accomplished painter whose art works hang throughout the palace and in numerous museums. He lived from 1872 to 1932 and died of lung disease at the age of 56 (or 60 as accounts vary).