Israel Music

By | December 22, 2021

At the time of the creation of the new state (1948), Israel had two important music academies, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, established in the 1930s and 1940s, as well as an Institute for the training of music teachers, founded in 1945 in Tel Aviv.

In 1936 the Philharmonic Orchestra directed by A. Toscanini and the Symphonic Orchestra of the newly born Radio Company were born, which represented a notable incentive for the musical production of the town. Little had been done in the operatic field (apart from the company of M. Golinkin formed in 1923, which had a short life), and the quantity of Israeli works composed up to then was relatively small. In 1952, the National Zimriya Song Festival was established for choral music, the tradition of which is particularly strong in the country. In 1956 the Israeli section of the ISCM (International Society for Contemporary Music), to whom we owe the organization of the annual Israeli Music Weeks, while in 1962 the Israel festival of music and drama was inaugurated under the direction of Ö. Partos a seminar for young composers. In 1966, the Testimonium Foundation was created by R. Freier to celebrate the different moments in Jewish history, commissioning works from both Israeli and foreign composers. An electronic music studio has recently arisen at the Tel Aviv Academy of Music, directed by Y. Sada’i (b. 1935). For Israel 2010, please check

The Russian composer J. Engel (1868-1927), who moved to Tel Aviv in 1924, has to be remembered in particular of the generation of composers trained in the different countries of origin and immigrated to Palestine in particular around the 1930s. they recall in different ways composers who arrived in Palestine at a younger age, such as P. Ben-Haim (1897-1984), M. Lavry (1903-1967), A. Boscovich (1907-1964), M. Avidom (b.1908)) and E. Amiran (b. 1909).

Of them, Ben-Haim is perhaps the best-known Israeli composer today; in his work the tendency to reconcile Western musical language and Jewish musical tradition is made explicit, making biblical readings in the traditional form of cantillation (The sweet psalmist of Israel, three symphonic movements, 1953) a compositional model of the most fruitful for new music Israeli. Another group of composers, on the other hand, was mainly interested in the study of the Arab musical tradition, and in particular in the possibilities of improvisation offered by the form of the Maqām. The group includes younger composers, whose work is linked, more than in the past, to the new musical education received in their country. We all remember HH Touma (b.1934), a pupil of Boscovich at the Musical Academy of Tel Aviv, author among other things of the Arab Suite for piano, of the Sama’i for oboe and piano, of two Etudes for flute and of Reflexus I for strings.

In the seventies, some composers of the older generation particularly established themselves, attentive to the reconciliation between tradition and avant-garde techniques, such as Partos (b.1907), J. Tal (b.1910), A. Eherlich (b.1915) and the younger N. Sheriff (b.1935). Their work has been encouraged to varying degrees by the research results of ethnomusicologists such as E. Gerson-Kiwi and A. Schiloach active at the Research Center for Jewish Music in Jerusalem. On the other hand, M. Seter (b. 1916) and Ben-Zion Orgad (b. 1928) occupy a separate position, whose revival of motifs from the ancient liturgy did not entail full adherence to avant-garde trends.

The search for a new language marked by the reconciliation between oriental tradition and serial techniques, started in Israel by the Polish-born composer R. Haubenstock-Ramati (b.1919) around the 1950s, had a notable influence on young composers, including which J. Sada’i – author of works such as Nuances for chamber orchestra, Aria da Capo for 6 instruments and 2 tape recorders, Interpolations variées for string quartet and harpsichord – and his students U. Scharvit (b. 1939), author of Heterophonic Studies for piano and Divertissement for mezzo-soprano, flute, bassoon, Arabic drum and piano, and J. Marchaim (b.1940), author of a Trio for flute, viola and guitar, Three Zen songs for two female voices and two flutes, Journeys for chamber orchestra and Retroactions for narrator and piano.

Israel Music