Salah El Kuweiti

Jewish-Iraqi composer and violinist
1910-1986

Iraqi composer and violinist, Salah El Kuweiti was born to Iraqi parents in Kuwait, and taken to Iraq when he was 17. He played violin, sang, composed, and achieved great musical fame in Iraq together with his brother, Daoud, who played the 'ud. Salah El Kuweiti performed “mainstream” and other Middle Eastern styles but reportedly preferred Iraqi style. He was very important to Baghdadi musical life – headed the Iraqi broadcasting channel ensemble and programmed its music for several years.

The brothers immigrated to Israel in 1951. After their emigration from Iraq, their names were intentionally forgotten, and their songs were titled "folksongs" or ascribed to other musicians. In Israel, they continued their musical activity by performing on a weekly radio show where they played and sang, and also through performances with the Arabic Orchestra of Kol Yisrael (Israeli Broadcasting Authority).

Despite their radio show, the brothers both felt that they were cornered into a cultural ghetto, due to the lack of appreciation of Arabic music in Israeli society, and due to the huge gap between their fame in Iraq and their lack of recognition in Israel.

As part of a growing interest in Arab and Jewish-Arab music in Israel, an album of Daoud and Salah El-Kuweiti's music was released in Israel in 2006, and Daoud's grandson, Israeli musician and guitarist Dudu Tassa recorded an album where he performs his own arrangements of the music of his grandfather and great-uncle (2011).

 

Selected Recordings:

Maqam Rast for Orchestra  (Innovative version of traditional Iraqi maqam performed by orchestra without singer)

Old songs Iraqi music 

Daoud and Saleh al Kuwaiti: "Walla ajabni jamalak"

Daoud and Saleh al Kuwaiti: "Ruchi tlifat"

Daoud and Saleh al Kuwaiti: "Ishrab Kasak"

Daoud and Saleh al Kuwaiti: "Latrib Ani Uteruch"

Daoud and Saleh al Kuwaiti: "Yanabaat el raichan"

Tribute to Salah al-Kuwaiti by Israel Radio in Arabic (1986)

Salah al-Kuwaiti performs violin Taqsim: ‘Ala al-Kaman-Bayat

Salah al-Kuwaiti and Salima Murad perform Yu‘ahiduni

Salah al-Kuwaiti ‎‎ and Zakiyah George perform Bimhasinak wi [wa] Bahak

 

Sources:

Dudu Tassa tells the story of the al-Kuwaitis 

"From Israel, a Jewish Singer with Arab Roots Revives the Music of His Family's Past"

Dafna Dori, The Al-Kuwaiti Brothers and the Iraqi Song (1930-1950), Ph.D. diss. University of Uppsala, 2021

Jewish Professional Musicians in Iraq and Israel, Revisited by Esther Warkov.

 

More articles in Hebrew:

Schweitzer, Erez. "'Aliyatam Ve-Nefilatam (עלייתם ונפילתם)." Ha'aretz.

"סיפורם של האחים אל כוויתי". בית אבי חי (2016)"

הסופרסטארים שהפכו למוכרי ביצים – סיפורם המופלא והקאמבק של האחים אל-כווייתי": פודקאסט היסטוריה"

."חסון, עמיחי. מזרח תיכון חדש: "דודו טסה והכוויתים 

.קומם, הילה. יא נבעת אל ריחן (פריחת הריחן) - האחים סאלח ודאוד אל-כוויתי. אימגו. 

(2001) ynet-כשיאיר פגש את סלאח". פורסם ב" 

כל ישראל עיראקים: הניצחון של דודו טסה". פורסם בישראל היום (2019)"

 

Sources by Esther Warkov.

 

Salah El Kuweiti performance

Salah El Kuweiti with his brother Daoud, performing the song "Tadini."

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