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Article

Natan Shahar

(b Yekatrinoslav [now Dnepropetrovsk], Dec 5, 1894; d Tel-Aviv, April 2, 1982). Israeli composer and singer. He emigrated to Palestine from the Ukraine in 1906. He studied at the Teacher's Seminary in Jerusalem where his teachers included Abraham Zvi Idelsohn. During World War I he moved to Egypt and enlisted in the British Army. After the war he returned to Palestine and, while earning his living as an accountant, took singing lessons with Jehuda Har-Melaḥ. A countertenor with a phenomenal ability to improvise, he travelled to the USA in 1923 to further his singing studies; there he specialized in improvisation and distinctive vibrato singing, similar in style to Arab-Bedouin singing or ululation. Commissioned to write an orchestral accompaniment for songs improvised in a Bedouin style, he enlisted the compositional assistance of Lazar Seminski, who encouraged him to continue to compose. His first songs, Ya leil (‘Oh night’) and ...

Article

Jehoash Hirshberg

(Heinz)

(b Berlin, Aug 9, 1915). Israeli composer of German birth. His studies at the Stern Conservatory were halted in 1936 as a result of the Nazi persecution, and in the same year he emigrated to Palestine. There he studied composition with Wolpe and the piano with Irma Wolpe-Schoenberg and Ilona Vince-Kraus. As a student he made his living as a café jazz pianist in Jersualem and established himself as an excellent improviser. From 1945 until his retirement he was a professor at the Rubin Academy of Music, Jerusalem. A highly versatile musician, he taught the piano, the harpsichord, theory, composition and improvisation. He also lectured in the musicology departments of Tel-Aviv University, the Hebrew University, the Institut Jaques-Dalcroze, Geneva, and New York University.

One of the diverse group of composers who emigrated from Europe to Palestine during the 1930s, Alexander experienced the tension between the ideological pressure to create a new national style with a nebulous Middle Eastern and folklike orientation, and the urge to keep abreast of current Western music. This tension is reflected in the contrast between the post-Romantic chromaticism of ...

Article

Nathan Mishori

(b Tel-Aviv, Oct 19, 1930; d New York, Oct 4, 1994). Israeli composer. She studied at the Tel-Aviv Music Teachers’ College (1948–50) and at the Israel Academy of Music (1950–52), where her principal teachers were Oedoen Partos (composition) and Ilona Vincze-Kraus (piano). Later, she was composer-in-residence at the Bar-Ilan University (1975–6).

Alotin shared her teachers' ideal of combining Western, Eastern and Jewish music traditions with contemporary ideas. In general, her works are based on Baroque and Classical forms, but in conjunction with an individual language of fluidly changing metre and rhythm, already evident in Yefeh nof (‘Beautiful Landscape’, 1952). The theme of the Passacaglia (1954) for piano is a Bukharian song, elaborated through extended tonality, while the influence of biblical cantillation is felt in the Cantata (1956) and in the vital and spontaneous Sonata for violin and piano (...

Article

Natan Shahar

(b Warsaw, Aug 8, 1909; d Yakum Kibbutz, Israel, Dec 18, 1993). Israeli composer and teacher of Russian descent. He received his early musical education in Moscow. In 1924 he emigrated with his family to Palestine, where he continued his musical studies with Shlomo Rozovsky (1928–9). He began to compose in 1930. From 1934 to 1936 he studied music education at Trinity College, London, and composition with Bantock and Rowley; at the same time he also studied at Tonic Sol-fa College, London. With the formation of the Israeli Army, he was appointed First Officer for music, founding the orchestras of both the army and the cadets. In 1949 he became the central inspector for music education at the Ministry of Education, a post he held until his retirement in 1975.

Amiran was one of the Ereṣ Yisrael composers who developed the character of what became known as typical Israeli folksong. His vast number of songs (around 600), many of which set biblical texts, were published in a wide array of pamphlets and song books. The most notable of these include: the nursery songs ...

Article

Talila Eliram

[Abramovich, Aleksander ]

(b Moscow, Oct 26, 1914; d Tel Aviv, Sept 27, 1995). Israeli popular music composer. His family name was Abramovich, but he changed it to the Hebrew name Argov in 1946, 12 years after emigrating to Israel. He was known as Sasha. His mother was a professional pianist and his father a dentist. Argov began to play the piano at the age of three and a half, and when he was six he began composing songs which his mother wrote down for him. He had no formal training in music, and in his adult life music was not his main source of income – he worked as a bank clerk and later owned a bookshop – but composing was always his mission in life.

He wrote approximately 1200 songs including songs for military and civilian entertainment troupes, and songs with piano accompaniment. He accompanied some performances of his songs, and emphasized that in his music the piano plays an important part in creating an atmosphere and illustrating the meaning of the text; he ascribed considerable importance to the relationship between text and music, and attempted to represent words in music using frequent changes of rhythm and metre. He also composed several musicals and film scores; his most famous musical was ...

Article

(b Stanislav, Jan 6, 1908; d Tel-Aviv, Aug 5, 1995). Israeli composer of Russian birth. His mother was a cousin of Mahler; his adopted surname combines the word ‘Avi’ (‘father of’) with the initials of his children's names. He studied at the American University in Beirut and at the Paris Conservatoire, where his teachers included Rabaud. In 1925 he emigrated to Palestine, where, in addition to his work as a composer, he served as a music critic, secretary general of the Israel PO (1945–52), chair of the Israel Composers' League (1958–71) and general director of ACUM, the Israeli performing rights society (1955–80).

In the late 1930s, after writing early works in an Impressionist style, Avidom turned towards atonal composition. While studying in Beirut and during a four-year stay in Egypt, however, he became deeply influenced by Mediterranean and Asian folk music and French culture. These influences found their expression in arrangements for the Yemenite singer Bracha Zefira (...

Article

Eliyahu Schleifer

(b Jerusalem, Sept 15, 1941). Israeli composer and conductor. He studied at the Rubin Academy of Music (teacher's diploma 1967, BMus 1972) and at the Salzburg Mozarteum (1976). From 1968 to 1973 he served as the director of Renanot, the Institute of Jewish Music, Jerusalem. In 1971 he joined the music department at Bar-Ilan University, where he founded an electro-acoustic laboratory in 1995. He has conducted numerous concerts in Israel, as well as national television and radio broadcasts. In 1973 he helped establish the Natanya SO, with which he has performed concerts of contemporary Israeli music. An award-winning youth orchestra conductor, he became music director of the Jerusalem Youth Orchestra in 1987.

Avitsur's compositions express a deep commitment to Jewish and Israeli culture. Many of his works are large-scale vocal compositions based on scenes from recent Jewish history. Much of his music, such as the Symphony no.2 ‘Shirat Hadorot’ (‘Generations’ chanting’, ...

Article

Miri Gerstel

(b Saarbrücken, Sept 2, 1927). Israeli composer of German origin. He studied composition with Erlich, Ben-Haim and Seter, and the piano with Pelleg, graduating from the Israel Academy of Music, Tel-Aviv, in 1958. From 1961 to 1975, Avni served intermittently as the director of the AMLI Central Music Library. Between 1962 and 1964 he continued his studies in the USA: at the Columbia–Princeton Electronic Music Center with Ussachevsky and in Tanglewood with Copland and Foss. Avni later taught composition and served as director of the electronic music laboratories at the Jerusalem Rubin Academy of Music and Dance (1971–95); he was appointed head of the department of theory and composition there in 1976. From 1968 to 1982 he also served as editor of Guitite, the bi-monthly publication of the Israeli Jeunesses Musicales, and from 1978 to 1980 he was chairman of the Israeli League of Composers. Avni was appointed chairman of the jury of the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in ...

Article

Ronit Seter

[Berman, Bernhardt]

(b Wiesbaden, July 20, 1923). Israeli critic, composer and musicologist. He moved to Mandatory Palestine in 1936. After studying composition with Paul Ben-Haim, his most influential teacher, Bar-Am attended the Ecole Normale de Paris (1949–51). He studied musicology at Tel-Aviv University (BA 1977), where he became the principal lecturer for courses on Jewish music and Israeli contemporary music (1973–96) and the first director of the Archive of Israeli Music. The secretary general of the Israeli League of Composers (1960–76, 1976–8), he became chair of the organizing committee of the ISCM in Israel in 1980. Though most influential as the music critic of the Jerusalem Post between 1958 and 1995, Bar-Am also wrote many essays on Israeli music in Hebrew, English and German, notably ‘A Musical Gateway between East and West’ (Jerusalem Post, 20 April 1988). He ceased composing in the early 1970s but resumed in ...

Article

Ketevan Bolashvili

(b Batumi, Nov 23, 1948). Georgian composer. He studied composition with A. Shaverzashvili at the Tbilisi State Conservatory (1968–76) and taught at the College of Batumi Music (1973–95). In 1987 he was awarded the Z. Paliashvili State Prize and in 1995 he emigrated to Israel.

Bardanashvili came to notice in the 1970s when, in his first serious experiments in composition dating from his student years, he set himself complex creative tasks and constantly endeavoured to find uncommon ways of solving them. His creative thinking was formed by a synthesis of national traditions – Georgian and Jewish – and contemporary methods such as dodecaphony, in addition to aleatory and sonoristic techniques, all applied in a non-dogmatic manner.

He seeks to reveal the complex, multi-faceted aspects of the human soul, and the rich spectrum of its emotional world; the varied literary sources of his inspiration include, in particular, Jewish medieval poetry and the work of Marcus Aurelius and Michelangelo. His Symphony (...

Article

Jehoash Hirshberg

(b Munich, Oct 1, 1897; d Tel-Aviv, Jan 14, 1984). Israeli composer of German birth. After serving in World War I, he graduated from the Munich Academy of Music (1920) where his teachers included Friedrich Klose (composition). He went on to hold the posts of choral director and vocal coach at the Bayerisches Staatstheater under Bruno Walter and, in 1924, became Kapellmeister of the Augsburg Opera. He was also active as a pianist. His early compositions, written during these years, include the String Trio (1927), which demonstrates his fondness for stylistic pluralism in its juxtaposition of extreme chromaticism and jazzy rhythms, and works that display the influence of Orientalism ( Pan , 1931) and neo-classicism (Concerto grosso, 1931). His friendship with the Jewish composer and organist Heinrich Schalit (1886–1976) led to the composition of a number of a cappella motets on biblical texts, culminating in a setting of Psalm cxxvi ‘Wenn der Herr’ (...

Article

Miri Gerstel

(b Jerusalem, Jan 22, 1954). Israeli composer. He studied composition at the Guildhall School in London (1978–9), with Mark Kopytman at the Rubin Academy in Jerusalem (graduated 1983), and with George Crumb and Richard Wernick at the University of Pennsylvania (PhD, 1987). Since 1987 he has been teaching at the Rubin Academy. He was the chairman of the Israeli Composers' League (1994–5).

His compositions tend to amalgamate different styles, for example aleatory means and proportional notation in Rubaiyat (1982) and atonal, extreme chromaticism with heterophony in the Sinfonia cromatica (1993). In the latter, each of the three movements represents a family of colours (magenta, aquamarine and white light) and the chromatic scale is developed as an important motif. In the Elegy for Anna Frank he uses a metalphone, an instrument of his own invention made of 11 gongs of different sizes, to evoke the sound of a railway. Ben-Shabetai's compositions have been performed in Europe and in the USA....

Article

William Y. Elias

(b Brichevo, Bessarabia [now Moldavia], May 1, 1927; d Tel Hashomer, Israel, March 17, 2005). Israeli conductor and composer of Russian birth. Taken to Palestine as a child, he began violin lessons at the age of six. He later studied at the Milan Conservatory (1946–7), in Israel, and at the Paris Conservatoire (1951–4) while taking further studies with Nadia Boulanger, Chailley, Honegger and Messiaen. In 1954 he returned to Israel and taught conducting at the Music Teachers’ College, Tel-Aviv, and later at the Rubin Academy of Tel-Aviv University, where he was appointed a professor in 1975. In 1955 he formed the Rinat Choir, which quickly acquired a wide reputation and became the Israel Chamber Choir. Bertini’s orchestral début was also in 1955 with the Israel PO, with which he first toured the USA and East Asia in 1960. His British début was in 1965...

Article

(b Kolozsvár [now Cluj-Napoca], Aug 16, 1907; d Tel-Aviv, Nov 5, 1964). Israeli composer and music critic of Hungarian origin. He grew up in a highly religious family – some of his forebears were Hassidic rabbis – which originated from the Moravian town Boskovice. Educated at the Jewish lyceum Tarbut in Cluj during the period in which it briefly flourished before forced Romanization and repression of the Jews in Transylvania, he studied the piano with Hevesi Piroska and then in Vienna with Victor Ebenstein. In 1927 he took advanced studies in Paris with Lazar Levi (piano), Dukas (composition) and Boulanger, which shaped his predilection for French music, in particular Debussy and Milhaud. Back in Cluj, he became, in 1930, one of the conductors of the State Opera and founded a fine Jewish amateur orchestra named after Karl Goldmark. In 1937 he contributed to a volume on Jewish topics with a study of contemporary Jewish music, the revival of which he related to the Russian influence on music after Wagner. He followed Sabaneyev’s example in regarding the collection and publication of Jewish folksong as a prerequisite for the emergence of such a music, stressing the linear, non-harmonic nature of Jewish musical expression. Concurrent with the essay, he composed ...

Article

Jehoash Hirshberg

(b Breslau, Jan 18, 1922; d Tel Aviv, August 27, 2014). Israeli composer. His parents settled in Palestine in 1923. After studying at the Israel Academy of Music with Alexander Boskovitch, among others, he was appointed to teach there when it merged with Tel-Aviv University in 1966. In 1975 he completed the MA in classical studies at the University, and studied Gregorian chant with Dom Jean Claire at Solesmes. He served as a jury member for prizes in Gregorian chant at the Conservatoire National Supérieur, Paris (1990, 1996, 1997).

In his early works Braun adopted the ideology of a national Israeli music, merging folklike dance patterns with cantillation motifs and modal chromaticism, as in his transparent Piano Sonata (1957). During the late 1950s and 1960s he composed several 12-note compositions, such as the Prelude and Passacaglia for harp (1967), retaining his predilection for simple melodic lines and consonant harmonies within the dodecaphonic context. Later works are more stylistically diverse. His Piano Trio no.1 (...

Article

Yehuda Walter Cohen and John Tyrrell

(b Prague, May 27, 1884; d Tel-Aviv, Dec 20, 1968). German-Israeli writer, translator, composer and librettist of Czech birth. He began piano studies at the age of six, and was then a pupil of Adolf Schreiber; later, after Schreiber’s suicide, Brod had some of his songs published and wrote his biography. He studied law and worked in Prague for a time as a state employee. He was a fine pianist and a composer (mostly of songs); his first published volume of verse (1907) earned the approval of Rilke, his first novel (1909) brought him notoriety. Thoughts on music are woven into his novels and poetry: his final book (1962) was a novelistic defence of Karel Sabina, librettist of Smetana’s The Bartered Bride, who was discovered to be a police informer. Brod was a friend of other German-Jewish writers in Prague such as Kafka and Werfel, and did much to promote their careers, becoming Kafka’s biographer and literary executor. His own talents and wide sympathies enabled him to become a prominent music and theatre critic (for the ...

Article

(b Rostov-na-Donu, 30 Oct/Nov 12, 1905; d Moscow, May 9, 1981). Kazakh composer. He developed a serious interest in music while serving in the Red Army, which he left in 1922 to spend a year at the Moscow Conservatory; in 1926 he entered the Leningrad Conservatory, where he studied with Steinberg, graduating in 1931. In 1933 he settled in Alma-Ata, where he began work in the research department of the Kazakh Music and Drama Technical College, studying Kazakh folksongs and kyui (programmatic fantasias for the dömbra, a plucked-string folk instrument); his folksong arrangements provided material for later compositions. From 1934 to 1938 Brusilovsky, who was of Jewish descent, was artistic director of the Kazakh Music and Drama Theatre (later the Abay Opera and Ballet Theatre), for which he composed works that laid the foundations of Kazakh national opera. In addition, he created the first Uzbek national ballet, ...

Article

Ronit Seter

(b Haifa, Israel, 7 Dec 1957). Israeli composer.

She studied at the Rubin Israel Academy of Music, Tel Aviv University (BA 1982) with Abel Ehrlich and Yitzhak Sadai, in Berlin with Dieter Schnebel (1983–4), at Bard College (MFA 1987), where her teachers included Eli Yarden and Joan Tower, and at the University of California at San Diego (PhD 1993) with Roger Reynolds and Brian Ferneyhough. She has taught at the Darmstadt summer courses (1990–98, 2004, 2010), where she received the Kranichstein prize (1992), at the University of California, San Diego (1997–2006), at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna (2006–9), and at Harvard University (from 2009), where she became the first woman composer to serve as a senior professor of composition. Her honors include an Asahi Shimbun Fellowship for a year residency in Tokyo (...

Article

Ronit Seter

(b Haifa, Dec 7, 1957). Israeli composer, active in the USA. She studied at the Rubin Academy of Music, Tel-Aviv University (BA 1982) with Abel Ehrlich, Sadai and others, in Berlin with Schnebel (1983), at Bard College (MFA 1987), where her teachers included Eli Yarden, and at the University of California at San Diego (PhD 1993) with Roger Reynolds, Ferneyhough and others. She has taught at the Darmstadt summer courses (1990–98), where she received the Kranichstein prize (1992), and at the University of California, San Diego (from 1997). Her other honours include an Asahi Shimbun Fellowship for a year residency in Tokyo (1993–4), a year residency at the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart (1996), a Heinrich Strobel Stiftung Fellowship (1997–9) and a commission for Ensemble Intercomtemporain employing IRCAM technology (1998)....

Article

Nathan Mishori

[Avraham]

(b Berlin, Oct 17, 1929). Israeli composer of German birth. He moved to Palestine with his parents in 1934 and began studies of the piano in 1945 and the oboe in 1947. Blinded in the [Israel] War of Independence of 1948, he studied theory and composition privately with Hajos for three years, and he graduated from the Israel Academy of Music, Tel-Aviv, in 1953. Two years later he had a string quartet, a piano sonata and some songs publicly performed. Parts of these works showed a personal expressive quality, which reached a highpoint in the sombre orchestral Alei yagon va’nocham (‘Metamorphosis of Grief and Consolation’). Earlier tendencies toward fast chromatic modulations developed into atonal writing in the piano Capriccio, the String Trio and the Lea Goldberg Songs (1962); the influences of Prokofiev and Bartók gave place to those of Schoenberg. The dodecaphony ruling the Movimenti quasi sonata...