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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

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

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

Yohanan Boehm

revised by Nathan Mishori

(b Warsaw, July 11, 1913; d Tel-Aviv, Dec 23, 1985). Israeli composer and conductor of Polish origin. He graduated with honours in the violin (1935) and conducting (1936) at the Warsaw State Conservatory. Conducting studies continued at the Accademia S Cecilia (with Molinari) and the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, Siena (with Casella); later in Switzerland he studied conducting with Scherchen and composition with Burkhard. Gelbrun played the violin and the viola with the Warsaw PO (1935–7), for Radio Lausanne (1941–4) and with the Zürich Tonhalle Orchestra (1944–8). After emigrating to Israel in 1949 he devoted his time to conducting and composition. He was permanent guest conductor with the Israel RSO (1949–53), chief conductor of the Israel Youth Orchestra (1950–56) and chief conductor of the Inter-Kibbutz SO (1950–55); he was then made professor of composition and conducting at the Academy of Music of the University of Tel-Aviv....

Article

Eliyahu Schleifer

(b Kiev, June 1, 1898; d Tel-Aviv, Jan 27, 1964). Israeli cantor and composer of Ukrainian birth. Born into a family of cantors (both of his grandfathers were cantors, as was his father), he made his cantorial début in Kiev at the age of eight. At the age of 14 he became the choir director at his father's synagogue, where he helped to introduce the 19th-century polyphonic repertory. He studied the piano and theory at the Totovsky Conservatory and later counterpoint and composition with Glière. In 1920 he moved to Chişinău, now in Moldova, where he served as cantor and continued his studies with Abraham Berkowitsch (known as Kalechnik), an authority on cantorial recitatives. After emigrating to the USA in 1926 he served as cantor for congregations in New York and Los Angeles. His extensive recordings with Asch and RCA Victor made him famous in Ashkenazi Jewish communities. In ...

Article

Eliyahu Schleifer

(b Budapest, March 5, 1932). Israeli composer, pianist and ethnomusicologist. As a young boy, he survived the Nazi invasion and miraculously escaped deportation. In 1949 he entered the composition department of the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, where he studied the piano with György Kósa and Erno Szégedi, composition with Endre Szervánszky and Ferenc Szabó, and ethnomusicology with Zoltán Kodály. As a Kodály disciple, he spent two years among the Hungarian gypsies, collecting songs and stories. This resulted in his Gypsy Cantata on poems of Miklos Randoti, which won first prize at the Warsaw International Youth Festival (1955).

Following the failure of the Hungarian uprising, Hajdu escaped to France, where he studied with Milhaud and Messiaen at the Paris Conservatoire. At the same time he wrote music for films and conducted youth choirs. From 1959 to 1961 he taught the piano and composition at the Tunis Conservatory and was active in ethnomusicological research there. This period is represented in his ...

Article

Eliyahu Schleifer

[Heinrich]

(b Königsberg [now Kaliningrad, Russia], March 2, 1909; d Tel-Aviv, Dec 13, 1990). Israeli composer, conductor and string player . He studied the viola and composition with Hindemith at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik (1927–30). From 1930 to 1933 he played in the Grosses Orchester des Südwestdeutschen Rundfunks. With the rise of the Nazis, he left Germany and, after a year's sojourn in Istanbul, emigrated to Palestine. In 1934 he settled in Jerusalem where he joined the Palestine Music Conservatory (1934–47) and the Jerusalem String Quartet (1934–9), both of which were founded two years earlier by the violinist Emil Hauser of the Budapest String Quartet. He was appointed to the Jerusalem New Conservatory and Academy of Music in 1947 (assistant director, 1949–54; director, 1954–8). He later moved to Tel-Aviv, where he played the viola in the Israel PO until 1974. During 1974–5...

Article

Uri Toeplitz

(b Odessa, Nov 17, 1903; d Tel-Aviv, Oct 14, 1972). Israeli composer and violinist. The son of the Jewish actress Esther Rachel Kaminska, he grew up in Warsaw. After working as a violinist he studied composition in Berlin with Friedrich Koch (1922) and in Vienna with Gál. On his return to Warsaw he was made leader of the Polish RO and he founded the Warsaw String Quartet, which won the Marshal Pilsudski Competition in 1934. In 1937 Kaminski was invited by Bronislav Huberman to become one of the leaders of the Palestine Orchestra (later the Israel PO), then in its second year. He settled in Tel-Aviv and stayed with the orchestra until his retirement in 1969. His creative work was influenced by a range of sources from Gregorian chant to the music of Richard Strauss, and including the oriental elements of Israeli folk music.

The best of Kaminski’s work is found in the progressive Triptych for piano and two concertante pieces: the witty Trumpet Concertino and the Violin Concerto, a more powerful and dramatic work although its last movement is lighter, with a Jewish theme and Sephardi dance rhythms. Kaminski played the solo part at the work’s première in ...

Article

Alma Kunanbayeva

(b Erbol [now in Kokchetav province], 1831; d 1894). Kazakh traditional composer and singer. He was born to the family of Turlybai and began composing songs at the age of ten. He belonged to a special category of artists in Kazakh society known as sal and seri, masters of the art of song who usually functioned as part of a group which included those skilled in wrestling and horse-racing, dömbra players, storytellers, jewellers and masters of wit. Birjan was a talented aqyn (poet-singer) and took part in numerous aitys (contests), the most famous of which was with Sara Tastanbekova. He travelled throughout Kazakhstan and became well known. Many of his songs became widely popular, notably Birjan-sal (an autobiographical song), Leyailam-shrak (a girl's name meaning ‘my dear flame’) and Zhonïp aldï (literally ‘polished’, ‘shaved’). He also composed two songs based on verses by Abai Kunanbaev, in whose household he was on occasion a guest. Birjan's songs were characterized by a number of features including melodic originality, indissoluble unity of text and music, and the inclusion of his own name in the texts of his songs, many of which were autobiographical. Several legends concerning the creation of his songs also became well known. In ...

Article

Miri Gerstel

(b Riga, Dec 22, 1903; d Haifa, March 24, 1967). Israeli composer and conductor of Latvian birth. He studied in Riga, at the Leipzig Conservatory, and privately with Scherchen and Glazunov. After working as an opera conductor in Saarbrücken (1926–8), he became the musical director and conductor of Rudolf von Laban's dance theatre in Berlin. He went on to conduct the Berliner SO (1929–32) and the Riga Opera (1932–4). In 1935, with the ascent of Nazism, he emigrated to Palestine. Between 1941 and 1947 he conducted the Palestine Folk Opera and Palestine Orchestra, and from 1950 to 1958 he was director of Kol Zion LaGola, an Israeli Radio Broadcast for the Diaspora. He settled in Haifa as an honorary citizen in 1962. As well as writing oratorios, chamber works and orchestral music, he composed many popular songs and incidental scores for theatre productions....

Article

Ury Eppstein

(b Tel Aviv, Jan 13, 1936). Israeli composer and conductor. He studied at the New Jerusalem Academy of Music (1951–3), including conducting with Eitan Lustig, and composition privately with Ben-Haim (1956–60) and at Columbia University, New York, where he specialized in electronic music with Ussachevsky (1961–2, 1964–5). In addition he studied architecture and urban planning at the Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa (BA 1960), and at Columbia (1961–2), and philosophy at Tel-Aviv University (MA 1974). He was a founder and conductor of the Israel National Youth Orchestra (1953–7, 1970–4), the Tel-Aviv Municipality Youth Orchestra (1956–60) and the Technion SO (1958–60). He was also chairman of the Israel League of Composers and the ISCM Israel section (1970–4, 1981–8) and taught at the Jerusalem Rubin Academy of Music and Dance (1972–3...

Article

William Y. Elias

[Ödön]

(b Budapest, Oct 1, 1907; d Tel-Aviv, July 6, 1977). Israeli composer, string player and teacher of Hungarian origin. Born to an assimilated Jewish upper middle class family, he was a child prodigy and studied the violin with Ormandy. Hubay heard him play the violin at the age of eight and took him as a pupil at the Budapest Academy of Music, where he also studied composition with Kodály. After graduating from the academy in 1924, he was leader of the Lucerne Stadtsorchester (1924–6) and the Budapest Konzertorchester (1926–7). In 1927 he moved to Germany, working as a soloist, and in 1933 he became first violinist of the Jewish Cultural Centre. At the end of that year he returned to Hungary, moving then to Baku to teach the violin and composition at the conservatory (1935) and returning to Budapest as leader of the Konzertorchester (...

Article

William Y. Elias

(b Prague, Sept 24, 1910; d Haifa, Dec 20, 1968). Israeli harpsichordist, pianist, composer and educationist of Czech birth . He made his public début as a pianist at the age of 12. He studied first at the Prague Academy of Music and later at Prague University (1929–31). In 1936, at the invitation of Bronisław Huberman, he settled in Israel. After gaining a distinction in the 1939 Geneva International Competition he became sought after as a performer; following an engagement at the 1947 Prague Festival he made lengthy annual tours abroad, appearing under, among other conductors, Klemperer, Paray, Dorati, Celibidache, Solti, Fricsay and Bertini. In 1939 Pelleg was among the founders of the Institute for Jewish Music Research, and in 1949 he became director of the music department of the Ministry of Education and Culture in the new state of Israel. In 1951 he moved to Haifa, where he was among the founders of the Haifa SO and its music director until his death; he was also music director of the Municipal Theatre from its establishment in ...

Article

Motti Regev

(b Kiriat Haim, Dec 25, 1950). Israeli singer, composer, guitarist and bouzouki player. During the 1970s he played in various rock bands which performed mainly at weddings. One of these bands became known as Benzeen in the early 1980s, when Poliker established what was to become a fruitful and long-lasting creative partnership with the lyricist and critic Yaakov Gilad. Benzeen became highly successful with its hard rock sound, but disbanded in 1984 after the release of its second album. In 1985 Poliker made two albums of rock-oriented interpretations of Greek songs, with Hebrew lyrics by Gilad; these recordings widened Poliker’s popularity beyond the young audiences of rock and marked his shift towards a sound based on Mediterranean and Middle Eastern elements. In 1988 he recorded Ashes and Dust, in which he and Gilad explored their experiences of growing up in Israel in the 1960s as sons of survivors of the Holocaust, and this album is widely considered Poliker’s masterpiece. His later albums, two of which are purely instrumental, include virtuoso performances on guitar and ...

Article

Jehoash Hirshberg

(b Russia, 1899; d Tel Aviv, 1968). Israeli critic, choral conductor and composer of Russian birth. In 1925, soon after his emigration to Palestine, he was appointed music critic of the newly founded socialist daily Davar, a position he retained throughout his life. He changed his surname from Rabinowitz to the more Hebrew Ravina in 1930. His frequent and detailed reviews, which insisted on a high standard of performance and programming, and sought a genuine Jewish musical style, were highly influential. In an attempt to bring music to the people, he collaborated with David Shor on an ambitious education project that included public lectures, the publication of popular music appreciation booklets and song anthologies, and the establishment of a nation-wide network of amateur choirs. He was also a strong supporter of contemporary music in Palestine. His many songs (around 60), mostly written for young children, were intended as part of a newly composed folksong repertory....

Article

William Y. Elias

revised by Irina Boga

(b Iaşi, April 17, 1929; d Jerusalem, 9 May, 2009). Romanian-born Israeli conductor, composer, and violinist. He studied the violin (with Garabet Avakian) and conducting (with Constantin Silvestri) at the Bucharest Academy of Music (1945–7). In 1957 Rodan pursued advanced studies in conducting and chamber music at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary. He made his début with the Romanian RSO in 1953. In 1961 he moved to Israel and conducted the Israel PO, becoming chief conductor and music adviser to the Israel Broadcasting SO (1963–72). As a conductor he preferred post-Romantic and less extreme contemporary music. In 1965 he founded the Jerusalem Chamber Orchestra and, as its permanent conductor until 1969, toured with it to Europe, East Asia, Australia, South Africa, and the USA. Rodan appeared as a guest with various European orchestras and frequently conducted at the Israel and Arthur Rubinstein festivals, with such soloists as Rubinstein himself, Barenboim, Rampal, Perlman, and du Pré. In ...

Article

William Y. Elias

[Karl ]

(b Heidelberg, Nov 13, 1897; d Beit Zayit, nr Jerusalem, Jan 15, 1974). Israeli composer and conductor of German birth . A pupil of Richard Strauss at the Berlin Academy of Arts, he became a répétiteur at the Berlin Staatsoper, sang at the Hamburg Opera and conducted in Baden-Baden. After settling in Jerusalem in 1933, he became the first music director of the Jerusalem Broadcasting Service in 1936. In 1938 he founded the Israel Radio SO (now Jerusalem SO), and from 1957 to 1962 he was director of the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s Transcription Service. In Germany he was active in reviving Handel’s Rodelinda and in 1944 he organized the first Bach and Handel festival in Jerusalem.

On his arrival in Israel, Salmon became influenced by the folk music of the region, which resulted in such works as the Symphonic Suite on Greek Themes (1943) and the Sephardic Suite...

Article

Michal Ben-Zur

[Kar’el]

(b Heidelberg, Nov 13, 1897; d Jerusalem, Jan 15, 1974). Israeli composer, conductor, singer and keyboard player of German birth. He studied the organ with Philipp Wofrum and composition with Richard Strauss. From 1920 to 1926 he held the position of conductor at the Hamburg Neues Stadt-Theater, and from 1931 to 1932 was baritone and stage director at the Deutsche Musikbühne. He emigrated to Palestine in 1933, where he was appointed programme director of the newly founded Palestine Broadcasting Service (PBS, later Kol Israel [‘The Voice of Israel’]), a position he held until his retirement in 1962; he founded the PBS Orchestra (later the Kol Israel Orchestra) in 1938.

Many of Salomon’s early works were destroyed. His music from 1933 is tonal with modal inflections, combining European traditions with folk influences to create a light, accessible style. The Sepharadic Suite (1961) incorporates Spanish melodies; popular material is also used in the Second Symphony ‘Leilot be’Cna’an (‘Nights of Canaan’, ...

Article

Anthony Philip Pattin

(b Detroit, Jan 24, 1947). American composer and pianist, active in Israel. He studied at Converse College (Spartanburg, South Carolina), Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Arizona (DMA 1970). His principal teachers include Ozan Marsh and Rudolf Serkin (piano), and Robert Muczynski (composition). Although he has composed for virtually all media, he has shown a special affinity for solo piano works and chamber music with piano. His brilliant piano writing often requires enormous technical facility on the part of the performer; textures are invariably contrapuntal, regardless of tempo, and rhythms are vital and varied with frequent changes of metre. His works often evoke a frenzied state through climaxes, rapid harmonic motion and breakneck speed. He has remarked that his ‘is not the kind of music to relax to, but the kind that makes people sweat; not only performer, but audience'. His interest in folk music stems largely from his desire to explore his own Jewish roots....

Article

Ronit Seter

(b Montevideo, Jan 1, 1959). Israeli composer and guitarist of Uruguayan birth. After emigrating to Israel in 1974, he studied the classical guitar with Menashe Baquiche and composition with Jan Radzynski. He obtained the BMus (1984) and MM (1986) at the Rubin Academy of Music, Tel-Aviv University, where his teachers included Leon Schidlowsky and Seter. He began to teach at the Rubin Academy in 1995. One of the foremost guitarists in Israel, his honours include two ACUM prizes (1992) and the Prime Minister Prize for composers (1994). As a composer, Seroussi has drawn inspiration from a variety of sources, including Luis Buñuel's films, Henri Matisse's paintings and the poetry of Pablo Neruda and Antonio Machado. His style, influenced by European avant-garde pitch content and Latin American orchestration, tends towards new complexity. His orchestral composition Lux: in memoriam Mordecai Seter (...