Jawad Amouri

Baghdad hosts tribute to celebrated Iraqi composer

BAGHDAD – The Al-Mada Foundation for Culture and Arts, in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut, hosted a session on Friday to mark the tenth anniversary of Karbala artist Jawad Amouri’s death. The event paid tribute to the renowned composer of the 1970s, affectionately known locally as the “star maker.” A big audience, including Amouri’s family, attended the commemoration.

During the session, critics and specialists reviewed Amouri’s prolific career spanning from the 1960s until his death in 2014. The program featured renditions of his most famous pieces by artists Hussein Saad and Nuas Amouri, the late composer’s son.

Amouri, born in 1935 in Twirij, Karbala, emerged as a leading figure in Iraqi music. He first introduced his compositions in the 1960s and rose to prominence in the following decade with works that retained a distinct Iraqi essence, eschewing the prevalent Egyptian influences.

His music was deeply influenced by the Shiite Hussaini recitations of his hometown. Amouri initially collaborated with singer Abdul Amir al-Twirijawi, known as the “Prince of Rural Singing,” who greatly influenced his early career.

Amouri’s formal education included the Teachers’ House in Adhamiya, Baghdad, and the Institute of Fine Arts, which he joined in 1959. There, he studied Eastern and Western music and notation.

Described as the “Discoverer of Stars,” Amouri introduced several significant Iraqi singers to the public, including Yas Khedr and Saadi al-Hilli, during auditions for the Radio and Television committee in the late 1960s. He composed music for most Iraqi singers.

Samer al-Mishal, the session manager, emphasized Amouri’s enduring impact on Iraqi music. “Despite his physical departure, he left us with his emotions and melodies, which will remain in our memory,” al-Mishal said.

According to Abdullah al-Mashhadani, a researcher and critic, Amouri was a unique musician whose legacy continues to resonate through the beautiful songs he left behind. He learned to play various instruments under the guidance of his relative Latif al-Mualemji and was instrumental in transforming rural songs into modern urban presentations.

Sanaa Watut, Amouri’s wife, shared personal memories of their life together. They married in 1971, and their first collaborative song was “Ya Hareema,” which Amouri composed quickly after Watut found the lyrics in some clippings by poet Nazem al-Samawi.

“The concept of ‘authenticity’ and preserving the Iraqi heritage was his sole obsession,” Watut said, highlighting his dedication to Iraqi music while acknowledging his Western influences.

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