ISRAELI MUSIC: MUSICAL- LITERARY EVENTS
“OFRA YITZHAKI'S PROGRAM PRESENTED PIANO WORKS BY ISRAELI COMPOSERS, ACCOMPANIED BY WISELY, CAREFULLY SELECTED TEXTS. THE MUSIC AND THE TEXTS PROVIDED A GLANCE INTO THE LIVES OF COMPOSERS WHO IMMIGRATED TO ISRAEL AND INTO THE TURBULENT DISCUSSION ABOUT THE NEW ISRAELI MUSIC OF THAT TIME."
BERLIN TAGESZEITUNG, ABOUT THE PROGRAM 'TWO HOMELANDS, ONE PIANO' IN 'NEW LIFE FESTIVAL', BERLIN 2017.
TWO HOMELANDS, ONE PIANO :
GERMAN COMPOSERS IN THE ORIENT
This program explores through music and texts the story of the big immigration of Jews from central Europe to Israel in the 1930s, with the rise of Nazism in Europe. The composers featured here – Tal, Ben-Haim, Salomon, Brod and Sternberg – were all part of this wave of immigration. They all experienced conflicts and challenges involved with having to leave a loved Homeland and trying to build a new life in the 'old but new' Homeland of the Jewish people, the not-yet existing state of Israel.
The texts in this program, taken from the composers' own letters and writings, reflect the thoughts and emotions involved with this immigration: The melancholy of being torn from the German-European tradition, the sadness of being far from loved ones left behind, and the excitement of being part of a new society. In addition, the texts bring to life various opionins regarding the heated discussion taking place in Israel at the time: What should the music of the new land be like? Should it be a continuation of European tradition? Or perhaps take a new direction based on the new landscape and connected to Jewish roots? Should the composers be 'musical-pioneers' and should there be a new national musical style?
The program is perfromed with an actor, reciting texts between the piano pieces. It is available in Hebrew, German and English.
KAREL SALMON (1897, Heidelberg – 1974, Jerusalem)
Piano Variations 'Am Yisrael Chay' ('The People of Israel Lives')
ERICH WALTER STERNBERG (1891, Berlin – 1974, Tel Aviv)
MAX BROD (1884, Prague – 1968, Tel Aviv)
Piano Rhapsody “The Mediterranean”
JOSEPH TAL (1910, Posen – 2008, Jerusalem)
PAUL BEN-HAIM (1897, Munich - 1984, Tel Aviv)
EXCERPTS FROM PROGRAM TEXTS
COMPOSER MAX BROD:
“For me, each and every work composed in the land of Israel should serve as a step on the path toward our goal – The creation of an original national style".
COMPOSER JOSEPH TAL:
“When I arrived in Israel, big discussions about Israeli music were taking place... out of ignorance of the Zionist principles I assumed, that the spiritual world of a person cannot change from one day to the other. Even though I immigrated to Israel in order to build the country and build my life in it, I am still the very same Joseph Gruental I was before and thus, the ways of expression, that fitted my personality before have not changed."
How do Arab and Jewish composers living in Israel relate to the place in which they live and work?
This program explores reflections on this topic through texts and music: Prose by Ben-Zion Orgad, articles by Habib Hassan Touma, poetry by Wisam Gibran, interviews with Verdina Shlonsky and excerpts from an autobiography by Joseph Tal.
The program is perfromed with an actor, reciting texts between the piano pieces. It is available with texts in Hebrew, German and English.
JOSEPH TAL (1910, Germany - 2008, Israel)
HABIB HASSAN TOUMA (1934, Israel - 1998, Germany)
Maqam for Natalie (1976)
WISAM GIBRAN (b. 1970, Nazareth, Israel)
From Silence to Silence (2000)
VERDINA SHLONSKY (1905, Ukraine - 1990, Israel)
Ballade No. 3 (1961)
BEN-ZION ORGAD (1926, Germany - 2006, Israel)
Tone Gesture No. 2 (2000)
EXCERPTS FROM PROGRAM TEXTS
COMPOSER HABIB HASSAN TOUMA:
"The Arab musician nowadays is in a state of embarassment and unclarity within a society struggling to keep its identity. He does not identify completely: Neither does he identify with the capitalist West, nor with the formerly socialist East; Neither with the Third World not with his own tradition and culture..."
COMPOSER VERDIAN SHLONSKY:
"My culture is mixed, cosmopolitan. Maybe I do not belong here. I never really learned Hebrew, I have no language. The Orient makes me tired. The atmosphere. I can not breath here freely, I can not think here freely. Galilee, Shmalilee... – I never felt any connection to all this."
COMPOSER BEN-ZION ORGAD:
"In 1940, in a trip to Tiberias, I first met the sea of Galilee, Genersareth, the Jordan River, and the Golan Heights. Going up the city of Safed, I climbed the Mount Canaan, reached its peak, descended through the blooming valley and rested by an old carob tree. Now I now, that the power of those landscapes filled with rush of excitement parallel to that of love at first sight."
Ofra Yitzhaki performing Habib Hassan Touma's 'Maqam for Natalie'. Live recording, Tel Aviv Museum. Video: Shali Boharon.
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* All programs are subject to change with advance notice.
REVIEWS OF OFRA YITZHAKI MUSICAL-LITERARY EVENTS OF ISRAELI MUSIC
WORLD ZIONIST ORGANIZATION'S ONLINE MAGAZINE (www.doingzionism. org):
“Before an overflown crowd, Ofra Yitzhaki performed brilliantly, presenting classical pieces modern Israeli composers . Each piece was complemented by an explanation which increased enjoyment of the program.”
ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG, GERMANY:
“Ofra Yitzhaki Draws Listeners into Foreign Worlds: Orient Meets Classical Music
Ofra Yitzhaki gave an overview of the classical music in Israel between 1933 and the end of the 20th century, music inspired by the chassidic world of Klezmer, by the oriental-Arab world, and by the European culture. It is often highly expressionistic, yet never ceases to be melodious... Yitzhaki finished the program with piano arrangements of Israeli songs, which describe the beauty of land, sky and mankind.”
MAGAZINE OF THE FRANKFURT JEWISH COMMUNITY, GERMANY:
“Explanations referring to the composers and their works complemented Ofra Yitzhaki's outstanding performance and taught the audience about the history of Israeli music. The public thanked this exceptional musician with great applause, demanding multiple encores.”
MAGAZINE OF THE GERMAN-ISRAELI SOCIETY, GERMANY:
“Ofra Yitzhaki impressed the guests through presenting the influences of politics on the compositional creation of the country.”