Yunis Yusuf al-Aʻdhami
c. 1950s, Baghdad, Iraq.
A rare performance of the Maqam Tiflis by Yunis Yusuf Muhammad al-A‘dhami, a follower of the Qundarchi school of the maqam al-ʻIraqi, recorded for Iraqi radio in the 1950s. (santur: Haj Hashim al-Rajab, joza: Sha‘ubi Ibrahim al-A‘dhami, dumbuk: Husayn Abdallah)
The Maqam Tiflis was composed by Rahmat Allah Shiltagh (d. 1871) with Turkish verses originally as an improvisation during a performance of the Maqam Seigah. The popular story behind the maqam, according to Shiltagh's apprentices, was that Shiltagh had adopted an Armenian boy named Yaʻqub from Tiflis (Tiblisi) in Georgia. Ya‘qub returned to his hometown when he grew up, which left Shiltagh apparently heartbroken. The maqam performed in its original Turkish lyrics captures this emotion vividly. Iraqi Maqam performers such as Ahmed Zaydan, Rashid al-Qundarchi and Muhammed al-Qubbanchi continued to sing the Maqam Tiflis using the same Turkish poem composed by their teacher, until Yunis Yusuf al-A‘dhami sang it with Arabic verses arranged by Abdul Jabbar al-Khishali. Its music is accompanied by the 12/4 yugrug rhythm.