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Abstract and Figures

The history of electronic music composition, technologies and institutions is traced from the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. Core developments are followed beginning with the founding generation including Joseph Tal, Tzvi Avni and Yizhak Sadai, continuing with the second and third generations of musicians and researchers, living in Israel and the United States. The institutional and political dynamics of the field in this country are explored, with a focus on the challenges of building an audience and institutional support, as well as prospects for the future.
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Organised Sound 10(2): 163–180 © 2005 Cambridge University Press. Printed in the United Kingdom. doi:10.1017/S1355771805000798
Fifty years of electronic music in Israel
University at Albany, PAC 312, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, New York 12208, USA
founding figure of electronic music in Israel. Born in
present-day Poland, Tal studied during his teen years
at the Staatliche Akademische Hochschule fur Music
in Berlin. Among his teachers was Paul Hindemith
who, he recalls, ‘pointed me in the direction of elec-
tronic music’ (Tal 2003), specifically to the studio of
engineer Friedrich Trautwein, best known as inventor
of the Trautonium, a synthesizer prototype created in
1928. Tal was one of a handful of students at the lab
who ‘learned electronics theory, to create, measure
and do experiments . . . creating sounds, but not yet
music, using electronic tools (vacuum tubes)’ (Tal
2003). Tal never worked directly with Trautwein, but
he was involved in the life of Trautwein’s studio during
the period when the Trautonium was coming to frui-
tion. The studio was equipped with sound generators,
wire recorders and other devices and its goal was the
emulation of acoustical instrument sounds.
Tal arrived in Israel in 1934. He did not continue his
involvement with electronic music until the late 1940s.
As he notes, ‘We didn’t have access to electronic
instruments to produce sounds and there was no
[perceived] need for them by the public’ (Tal 2003). Tal
became active as a composer and teacher of composi-
tion and piano at the Jerusalem Academy of Music,
at its founding in 1936. It was renamed the Israel
Academy of Music and Dance in 1948, when Tal
became its director. He remained there through 1952.
Tal’s early compositional style was a point of some
controversy, due to his departure from – and criticism
of – the so-called ‘Mediterranean school’ favoured by
many Israeli composers at the time. This was an
approach pioneered by Paul Ben Haim and other
composers, who set traditional Middle Eastern Jewish
melodies within a European, often Impressionist,
harmonic vocabulary. For this reason, Tal observes
that he was viewed as an ‘enfant terrible’.
Tal remained rooted in European music, at times
composing using dodecaphonic techniques. Over the
course of his career, his works have included music
for choir and orchestra, ballet and opera (often on
biblical themes), music for solo instruments including
piano, harp, woodwinds, strings and brass, music for
orchesra, percussion ensemble, accompanied voice
and other instruments, chamber music and music on
The history of electronic music composition, technologies and
institutions is traced from the founding of the State of Israel
in 1948. Core developments are followed beginning with
the founding generation including Joseph Tal, Tzvi Avni and
Yizhak Sadai, continuing with the second and third
generations of musicians and researchers, living in Israel and
the United States. The institutional and political dynamics of
the field in this country are explored, with a focus on the
challenges of building an audience and institutional support,
as well as prospects for the future.
For a small country, Israel’s electronic musical heri-
tage is historically long and musically diverse. This
should not be surprising given Israel’s identity as a
magnet for Jews from many cultures and geographic
locations. The heritage of electronic music in Israel is
as old as the State itself. Israeli independence in 1948
coincided with Pierre Schaeffer’s initial experiments,
in Paris, with musique concrète. This emerging body of
work made its way to Israel within a decade, when it
was first publicly presented on Israeli radio. Ironically,
Israel’s first electronic music pioneer, Joseph Tal, was
among those who experimented, in Germany in the
1920s, with the use of electricity to generate sounds.
The pre-State period and the pre-history of electronic
music are thus linked as well.
Since electronic music first developed internation-
ally as an expansion of European and, subsequently,
American musical ideas and vocabulary, it is not
surprising that the first Israeli works in this medium
would also reflect movements in those locales. Impor-
tant influences included the Parisian musique concrète
of Pierre Schaeffer and its integration, pioneered
by Edgard Varèse, with the German approach to
electronically generated sounds. New possibilities
were opened up when Joseph Tal toured the studios of
Europe and New York, Tzvi Avni encountered the
Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center in New
York, and Yizhak Sadai visited Schaeffer’s GRM
studio. The reception at home was, however, less than
welcoming and accepting.
2. JOSEPH TAL (1910–)
Composer and educator Josef Tal, née Joseph
Gruenthal, is universally acknowledged as the
164 Robert J. Gluck
electronic tape. His eclectic music has been described
as ‘broad dramatic gestures and driving bursts of
energy generated, for example, by various types of
ostinato or sustained textural accumulations . . .’
(Ringer 1980).
2.1. Tal returns to electronic music
Tal re-engaged with electronic music after visiting
Europe, shortly after World War II:
I received a UNESCO fellowship for research in elec-
tronic music and I travelled to the studios cross Europe
and America and I learned what there was to learn. When
I returned home, I brought with me a tape recorder,
which was a source of great interest and excitement to
people. Slowly I hired engineers interested in the field to
conduct experiments in creating sounds.
Through his efforts, the Israel Center for Electronic
Music at the Hebrew University was founded. A work
of Tal’s, an oratorio with electronic tape, became the
first electronic work to be broadcast on Israeli radio,
most likely in 1959 (Avitsur 2003). One of his former
students, composer Reinhard Flender recalls Tal’s
thinking about the nature of electronic music:
To Josef the sound produced by a Moog synthesizer was
absolutely equal to the quality of a traditional instrument
(e.g. Violin or Cello). He was very philosophical in
his approach to electronic music. It was somehow clear
to him that it [electronically generated sound] was the
highest level of sound production because it had over-
come all limits of a traditional instrument in terms of
speed, colour, pitch, etc. He contradicted with all the
authority he had my theory that a sound produced by a
musician was fundamentally different from a sound
produced by the turning of the button of a synthesizer.
For him the production of electronic music was in no
way different from playing the piano. The only difference
for him was that in electronic music the composer is
united with the performer. It is a way of direct com-
munication between composer and audience without
the intermediary state of notation and interpretation
of the written score. (Flender 2005)
Tal speaks of having been the beneficiary of
unfriendly criticism for his electronic compositions
and organising efforts. He saw himself as a lightening
rod for public reluctance to accept electronic music:
I had the patience to get hit by all the stones at my head
[he patiently received all of the criticism]. [At one point,]
I played a concert for piano and electronic music in one
of the festivals. The [news] papers objected. There was a
front-page article the next day with the title ‘Terror . . .’
(Tal 2003)
Others received his work approvingly. Tal credits the
positive response, especially by students, as a conse-
quence of a policy in Israeli high schools that allowed
students to invite visiting lecturers to speak on subjects
of special interest. Exposure to forward-thinking
musicians set the groundwork for greater openness to
electronic and new music. Fellow composer Tzvi Avni
(2003: 1) considers Tal’s best-known works to be his
two concertos for piano and tape, a harp concerto, and
the opera Masada for tape and singers. He has been
awarded many prizes at home and abroad, including
the Israel Prize (1971), Arts Prize of the City of Berlin
(Germany, 1975), Johann Wenzel Stamitz Prize
(Germany, 1991), and others.
With respect to his identity as an Israel composer,
Tal observes:
. . . I don’t think that a national expression ends with a
quotation of old music. There are national elements and
there is the behaviour in the street, how the people
behave. What’s their morality? What is their degree of
aggression? And so on. And this is a nationality. This
should come out in the music, you see, because I live it
and I’m confronted with it day by day. If you start
now to translate those things, then already you are on
the borderline between language and music, common
language and music language. Because to speak about
music in itself is principally an impossibility . . . if I
wouldn’t have decided to go to Palestine in the early
1930s or would have gone to London or new York, I
don’t think I would have written the same music . . . there
would be the same elements of twelve-tone music in it, or
electronic music, or any other thing . . . my environment
is not only Israeli, my environment is absolutely interna-
tional . . . So I am a member of the whole world, but I am
living in a certain country, which is called Israel and very
near to all that interests us – our fight in life, our struggle
in life. And this certainly comes out in the music, no
matter if it is written for piano or for electronics, or for
whatever you want. (Tal 2003)
Tal continues to consider issues about electronic
music. Among his interests is effective and replicable
scoring of electronic music, work that has been pre-
sented at the 1988 and 1992 International Computer
Music Conferences (Shimony, Markel and Tal 1988;
Shimony, Gerner, Markel and Tal 1992). He recently
published an extended essay, ‘Musica Nova in the
Third Millennium’ (Tal 2002), addressing the gradual
development of timbre as a musical organising
principle through the history of Western music.
2.2. The Israel Center for Electronic Music at the
Hebrew University
In 1958, Tal visited the studios of Europe and the
United States facilitated by the Institute of Interna-
tional Education, affiliated with UNESCO, which
provided a grant to support the six- month trip. As his
travels drew to a conclusion in New York City,
Vladimir Ussachevsky spoke of a new invention by
Canadian instrument-designer and composer, Hugh
Le Caine (1914–1977), the ‘Multi-track’. This was an
instrument designed to facilitate composing using the
musique concrète techniques of Pierre Schaeffer in
Fifty years of electronic music in Israel 165
Paris, by which recorded sounds on tape would be
transformed by playing them back at different speeds
and direction and using cutting and pasting; multiple
layers of such sounds would then be mixed together.
Tal was intrigued by this new instrument, which he
described as ‘an ingenious construction because of the
very rare combination of technique and imagination.
It should be the nucleus of the professional equipment
for the electronic music composer’ (Young 1996). The
Multi-track, invented in 1955,
was able to play six tapes simultaneously, changing
the playback speed of each tape independently and
recombining the resulting sound into a single recording.
The tapes were played on a single capstan at the left of
the instrument while the speeds were controlled by a
three-octave keyboard on the right’. (Young 1999)
Keyboards provided convenient and immediate methods
of controlling the instrument, as they could be easily
operated by musicians and the pitch changes produced
in the pre-recorded sounds exactly matched those of the
standard keyboard. Playing an octave on the keyboard
would double (or halve) the playback speed and the
sound would rise (or fall) by an octave. (Canadian
Science and Technology Museum 2004)
Tal immediately began conversations with Le Caine
towards purchasing a Multi-track (Young 1996:
By the end of August negotiations were underway for
NRC to build another Multi-track for Tal’s new studio in
Jerusalem. An NRC memo outlined the estimated cost of
a new Multi-track at $1000 in materials, 500 hours of
machine shop work, and 200 hours of electrical work.
This turned out to be an optimistic estimate. The memo
continues: ‘Our electronic music project has reached an
important and critical phase in its development. Serious
musicians are taking an interest in it for the first time.
Both Arnold Walter and Josef Tal want to open studios
with the Multi-track as central instruments.
Tal initially lacked the funding to build an Israeli
electronic music studio where he could continue his
work. He was fortunate to gain the interest of instru-
ment inventor, Canadian engineer Hugh Le Caine,
after some successful fund-raising by Shalhevet Freier
(Ringer 1980). Freier was a physicist and government
leader closely associated with Shimon Peres and later,
Vice President of the Weizmann Institute of Science
and the son of Recha Freier, founder of the important
new music festival, Testimonium, discussed below. Tal
remembers Freier with admiration and appreciation:
He was an extraordinary man – one of a kind. His whole
family was very special. Shalhevet helped organise and
find support, people and money for the Jerusalem studio,
but this was for him a personal initiative and not an
official role. He was very helpful. He was very interested
in electronic music and without him there would be no
studio in Jerusalem. (Tal 2004)
With Freier’s support, Tal purchased Le Caine’s early
electronic keyboard instrument, the Multi-track.
Despite hopes that it could be constructed and
delivered by the end of 1959, it was not ready until
May 1961. This particular version used a combination
of vacuum tubes and transistors, which had recently
been invented. Tal’s new studio was the Electronic
Music Center, founded in 1961. Additional equipment
was funded through his UNESCO fellowship, which
Tal (2003) notes ‘[was all at] my initiative’.
Setting up the Multi-track and the rest of the studio
did not prove to be a simple matter. After acknowledg-
ing the arrival of the new device, in October 1961, Le
Caine received a November telegram from Tal alerting
him that there were problems:
Tal reported that the ‘engineer wants to know if it was
tested before shipping’. Le Caine immediately wrote a
five-page letter outlining several testing procedures to
determine whether all the bolts were tight, all the cables
were moored, and the vacuum tubes and fuses were in
operation. After several weeks during which the Multi-
track was still not operation, it was decided that Le Caine
would have to go to Israel himself to repair the instru-
ment. He and his wife arrived in Jerusalem on February
19, 1962, and stayed for two weeks. They were well
received in Israel, given official dinners and tours of the
city, but Le Caine barely noticed these things. He was
totally preoccupied with the Multi-track, which he had
found in pieces on the floor of an almost empty room that
was the electronic music studio. (Young 1996)
It became clear to Le Caine that Tal personally lacked
technical expertise nor had sufficient technical support
at his disposal. Gayle Young notes that ‘Le Caine had
to make special arrangements to have the engineer
relieved from military duty during his visit’. Addi-
tional equipment had not yet arrived and the studio
was thus in disarray.
Nonetheless, Tal’s studio did eventually effectively
function. A former student in the studio from 1977–
1981, composer Reinhard Flender, recalls that ‘Tal
himself was not a technician. He always worked with
Sailes, his sound engineer. Sailes was an Iraqi Jew who
followed with devotion Tal’s instructions’ (Flender
2005). Flender himself composed one major work in
the studio, ‘Ba Voh le Tishrei’, an oratorio for mezzo
soprano, cello, recitation and electronic tape. It was
premiered at the Jerusalem Theatre in 1980.
As an educator, Josef Tal considered electronic
music, including hands-on work, to be a useful and
important subject for all music students. Reinhard
Flender wrote: ‘Josef offered seminars in this subject
to all students of musicology. But he encouraged all of
the participants to do their own work, which meant
to create a piece of electronic music’ (Flender 2005).
Tal served as studio director until he retired in 1980.
Menachem Zur then became director until, in the
1990s, for a variety of reasons, the University closed
the studio.
166 Robert J. Gluck
3. TZVI AVNI (1927–)
Born in Germany, Avni (née Steinke) immigrated to
Israel in 1935. His formal musical studies began at the
Tel-Aviv Academy of Music (later called the Rubin
Academy of Music). Avni has been a student of Abel
Erlich, Paul Ben-Haim, Mordecai Seter, and of Aaron
Copland and Lukas Foss at Tanglewood (1963).
Avni’s works have included electronic music and
music for orchestra, chamber ensemble, voice and
chorus, ballet, theatre, art films and radio plays.
It was Edgard Varese who pointed Avni in the
direction of electronic music. Avni recalls:
. . . I actually wanted to study with him and he said, ‘No
you don’t need any studies. If you want me to teach you
new tricks, I wouldn’t teach you anyway. I want to keep
my tricks for myself, you find your own tricks’ . . . he
called up Otto Luening and spoke with him and said,
‘I have here a young man . . .’ . . . They gave me a scholar-
ship there for a year in the Columbia-Princeton
Electronic Music Center. (Fleisher 1991)
At Columbia-Princeton, Avni worked with Vladimir
Ussachevsky between 1963 and 1964. Avni notes that
‘[Mario] Davidovsky was already assistant instructor’
(Avni 2003: 1). It was there that Avni composed his
first electronic work Vocalise (1964) about which he
My late first wife, Penina, who was a singer, was with
me in New York and when I started thinking about a
piece I thought it would be a good idea to use her voice
versus electronic sounds, as a dramatic encounter of
the warm human voice with the colder and alienated
electronic sounds. Having these two kinds of materials,
I decided to use the sonata form, namely: an exposition
(1 minute), a longer section of ‘development’ (4 minutes)
and a recapitulation plus coda. Altogether it is less than
6 minutes long. (Avni 2003: 2)
His arrival at Columbia-Princeton represented an
immersion in an unfamiliar aesthetic. His return to
Israel became a time of assimilating this new learning
into his musical world view:
. . . I tried to find my own world in the new sound
environment. Then, when I came back here (to Israel) it
took quite a few years somehow to adjust and to choose
what I felt was right and good for me, and sincere. And to
remain myself, although I wanted very much to use new
sound elements like, of course, tone clusters and tone
rows and sonoristic elements and electronics and so on
. . . (Avni 2003: 1)
One of his electronic works from this period is Collage
for voice, flute, percussion and tape (1967). The text
for this work was by the noted Israeli poet Yehuda
Amichai. During this period, Avni’s music was influ-
enced in important ways by his Israeli cultural
environment, in particular the shaping of its national
identity in light of its Jewish and historical roots:
I would say my music became more Jewish, if you can say
so, in the late 1960s and 1970s. Especially in the melodic
area and perhaps some kind of nostalgic elements. I
cannot define it exactly. But I feel that now it’s much
more important to me to know what it means to be a Jew.
Let’s say in the 1950s and the 1960s I was very busy, like
many others, trying to understand what it meant to be an
Israeli. But now, you know, we have a kind of national
identity here, and you look for the wider cultural identity
much more than local nationalism, which is now perhaps
already established. (Avni 2003: 1)
3.1. Founding of the Electronic Music Studio at the
Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem
Upon his return to Israel, Avni began to teach at
what was then named the Rubin Academy. In 1971, he
established a studio, the second in Israel. Here is how
Avni describes the studio set-up:
The studio in Jerusalem started with the ARP 2600 and
a couple of Revox tape-recorders. Later on we acquired a
professional Reverb plate (Studer) and then we bought
two B62 Studer tape-recorders. (Avni 2004: 1)
The ARP 2600 was a ca 1970s analogue synthesizer
whose voltage-controlled modules were integrated
within a single unit. The studio staff included the direc-
tor with the assistance of a technician, as Avni recalls:
The classes I used to teach since 1971 were mainly for
the theory and composition students (compulsory
course) and they got individual help from the technician,
who was also responsible for the maintenance of the
equipment. Usually, each student did a piece during the
The impact of electronic music on students of that
era was enhanced by the requirement that all music
students work in the studio. Avni’s own electronic
compositions from this early period of the studio
include Lyric Episodes for oboe and tape (1972), and
Figure 1. Tzvi Avni in the mid-1970s with students in the
Jerusalem Rubin Academy Electronic Music Studio (photo
courtesy of Tzvi Avni).
Fifty years of electronic music in Israel 167
Synchromotrask for female voice, tape and a door
(1976). During this time, he was awarded the Engel
Prize (1970) and Lieberson Prize (1973).
3.2. Avni’s creative work in the 1980s
In the 1980s, Avni enriched his musical learning at
the Musikhochschule in Stuttgart, Germany (1981),
and in the studios of Iannis Xenakis in Paris (1984).
His works from this period include A Monk Observes
a Skull for mezzo-soprano, cello and tape (1981), and
Five Variations for Mr. K. (1982) for percussion and
tape. He continued to receive recognition at home
and abroad, being awarded the ACUM Prize for life
achievements (1986), the Culture Prize of the Saarland
(1998) and, more recently, The Israel Prime Minister’s
Prize for life achievements (1998), and the coveted
Israel Prize (2001).
4. YIZHAK SADAI (1935–)
Born in Sofia, Bulgaria, Sadai immigrated to Israel in
1949, shortly after the founding of the State. He is
known as a composer, educator and theorist, whose
interests include musical perception and meaning.
Like Tal and Avni, Sadai studied electronic music
abroad. In the early 1960s, he began his first works, at
the Groupe de Recherces Musicales (GRM) in Paris,
with Pierre Schaeffer, Francois Bayle and Guy Reibel.
Sadai’s philosophy and compositional practice are
strongly intertwined, as he observes:
I first became interested in electroacoustic music (this
term covers musique concrète and electronic[ally gener-
ated] music) in the early sixties, as a natural evolution in
my creative compositional activity. At the same time I
discovered, through musical experience, phenomenology
as a method, a philosophy, an attitude, and even a belief
that expresses a way of thinking, of feeling, and of
regarding the world. (Sadai 2004)
Sadai explains his affinity to Schaeffer’s approach
and, conversely, his discomfort with the approach of
the Cologne-based Elektronische Musik:
My phenomenological attitude to music was triggered by
the constant discovery of some important gaps and
incompatibilities between the way in which a musical
phenomenon is perceived and the way in which it is
explained by music theory and re-explained by analytical
procedures. Thus it becomes easy to understand not only
my affinity to the empirical and theoretical attitude of
Pierre Schaeffer, as manifested in his famous Traité des
objets musicaux and Solfège des objets sonores, but also
my somewhat opposed attitude to the musical approach
and way of thinking of the Köln ‘formalistic’ electronic
music composers. (Sadai 2004)
As an educator, Sadai’s courses focused on the
composition and perception of electronic music from
the perspective of musique concrète. Not surprisingly,
his books, Harmony in its Systemic and Phenomeno-
logical Aspects and Traité de sujets musicaux – vers
une épistémologie musicale are dedicated to Pierre
Schaeffer. His electroacoustic compositions include
Song into the Night (1971); La prière interrompue (The
Interrupted Prayer, 1975), composed following the
Yom Kippur War; and Trial 19 (1979), an audio-
visual composition, after records from the Spanish
Inquisition trial. Works for acoustic instruments and
tape include Aria da capo (1966), From the Diary of
a Percussionist (1972), Anagramme (1975) and Canti
Fermi for orchestra and tape.
4.1. Don Goodman (1938–) and the Electronic Music
Studio at the Rubin Academy of Music at Tel-Aviv
The third electronic music studio in Israel was founded
at Tel-Aviv University, in 1974, by Yizhak Sadai. It
was sponsored by the University’s Faculty [College]
of Fine Arts and by the Tel-Aviv Foundation for
Literature and Art. The Tel-Aviv studio was designed
and constructed by Don Goodman, who became the
studio technician. Goodman immigrated to Israel
from England in 1967, shortly before the Six Day War:
I was originally an electronic-based technician specia-
lising in analogue audio electronics [working with]
mixers, boxes . . . Without [academic] qualifications I’m a
design engineer. I built up the knowledge for myself by
reading magazines, experimentation. I was working [in
England] at EMI, as a technician. I listened to pre-
recorded tapes, before disks and before cassettes [were
commercially marketed]. I was on the quality control
side. I was in the same department where they were
recording from the master tapes to the copy masters. You
had to listen on Tannoy horn-loaded loudspeakers. They
would take up half the room in my house. There were all
sorts of notes on the score. When you get to a particular
note, you have to change the levels . . . I was working at
the time with a small group who imported professional
equipment to Israel and I was an installation and testing
engineer, for hospitals, security places . . . I got tired of
travelling and I always had interest in the music side.
I tried making my living freelance building stuff, such as
mixing consoles for Kibbutzim. (Goodman 2004)
Goodman recalls how he came to work with Sadai:
I knew one of the students in Yizhak Sadai’s class,
Danny Handlesman. One day Sadai announced in class:
‘I’m going to start a new class with electroacoustic music.
I have the equipment but I have so many problems with
these technicians and engineers . . . I don’t know whether
it will start; it’s a complex problem’. He was anxious to
get it going. Danny said, ‘Professor, I have an idea about
a person’. Danny gave me Sadai’s phone number and I
went to his house. We talked for about two hours and
he thought that this seemed to be OK. I worked on a
contract basis. Sadai invited Pierre Schaeffer for an
honorary professorship at Tel Aviv University and I
168 Robert J. Gluck
linked up with Schaeffer to help him play back his music.
Schaeffer said ‘you keep that fellow; he knows what he
was talking about’. (Goodman 2004)
The original analogue equipment included three
Studer reel-to-reel tape recorders, a sizeable Moog
synthesizer, which featured two keyboards, nine oscil-
lators and two filter modules; a Revox amplifier and a
pair of JBL loudspeakers. One distinctive feature of
the studio reflected Goodman’s interest in periodically
building new devices, including a vocoder, ring modu-
lators and a custom mixer. In the 1980s, the studio
became a digital facility, the Center for Computer
Aided Music, featuring a Synclavier II Digital Music
System. After Sadai’s retirement, Raviv Gazit became
director. The studio has been a member of the Interna-
tional Federation for Electroacoustic Music, affiliated
with UNESCO, but ceased operation in 2003. Around
1996, the University’s Music Academy constructed a
new concert hall, which included elaborate recording
equipment, constructed and maintained under Good-
man’s direction. Goodman retired in 2003 and the
recording studio remains in operation.
The first generation of composers to be educated in
Israel were born during and immediately following
World War II. Most were born in Israel and several
were students of Yizhak Sadai and Don Goodman,
in Tel-Aviv, including Joseph Dorfman, Yossi Mar-
Haim and Raviv Gazit. Arie Shapira studied com-
position with Sadai, but graduated before the studio
opened and thus developed his electroacoustic compo-
sition skills independently. All of these composers
have remained in Israel, unlike many of those born a
decade later.
Two other composers are known primarily for their
works for acoustical instruments. Tsippi Fleischer
(1946–) has composed several electronic works,
including: The Gown of Night (1988) for magnetic
tape, drawing upon the voices of Bedouin children;
Ramblings on a Volcano (1997, composed with Rajmil
Fischman); and Saga-Portrait (2003) for voice and
tape. Another composer, Dan Yuhas (1947–), winner
of several Israeli awards, continued his studies of elec-
tronic music in London, in 1980, with Hugh Davies,
and recently began to actively compose electronic
works. He opened a small studio, operated by Didi
Fire, created as a recording space for the Israel Con-
temporary Players. The studio was temporarily closed
in 2003 due to a fire, and was scheduled to re-open in
Joseph Dorfman (1940–) was born in the Ukraine,
and has served as a mentor to numerous students at
the Israel Rubin Academy of Music, Tel-Aviv Univer-
sity. Largely a composer of instrumental and vocal
music, he composed electronic music between 1974
and 1980 on the Synclavier II at the Jerusalem
Academy, as well at the Electronic Music Center
in Columbia University (Dorfman 2003, 2004). His
electronic compositions include: The Stones of
Jerusalem (1977), with sound material created from
striking together Jerusalem stones, and texts from the
Hebrew Bible that glorify stones; De Profundis (1976),
using electronically processed recorded singing voices;
and Viribus Unitis No.1 (1977) for piano, three tape
recorders, ring modulator and mixer.
Born in Jerusalem, Yossi Mar-Haim (1940–)
encountered electronic music in the early 1960s, when
he heard Josef Tal’s music in the Hebrew University
studio and, on recording, music by composers at the
Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, includ-
ing Milton Babbitt, and Vladimir Ussachevsky.
Yizhak Sadai introduced him to the sound world of
Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry. Mar-Haim found
his own compositional direction while at Julliard, in
works for instruments and tape by Mario Davidovsky,
Charles Wourinen, Tzvi Avni, Karlheinz Stockhausen
and his own teacher, Luciano Berio. He soon began
his own attempts to compose:
In 1969 I started to collect gadgets like oscillators, wah-
wah for guitar, echoes . . . but I had no connection with a
proper lab, so my first experiments were done with tape
loops played backwards, controlled feedback . . . The
results were closer to Cage in spirit than to any other
figures like Stockhausen. I still love low-tech cheap
electronic effects. (Mar-Haim 2003)
His work came to focus on music for outdoor environ-
ments and live electronic performance. Music in the
Trees (1980) includes the instructions that the musi-
cians perform in the higher region of trees. Listeners
choose their own walking paths through the woods
and thus hear the work from varying perspectives;
Declaration of Independence (1988) for orchestra,
band, echo device, narrator and tape, includes clips
from a recording of first Prime Minister David Ben
Gurion reading the Declaration. Mar-Haim teaches
sound for film and sound for virtual media at Tel-Aviv
University. The most recent of the prizes he has
received is the 2003 ACUM (Israeli ASCAP) Prize.
Born in Tel-Aviv, Raviv Gazit (1949–) is best
known for his film and theatre soundtracks, and as an
educator. With a background bridging electroacoustic
and rock music, he seeks to ‘synthesize all my different
ways of expression into a unique style of electronic
music, hopefully not classifiable as Experimental,
Ambient, Dance or whatever’ (Gazit 2003). Gazit
studied electronics engineering, especially computing,
at Tel-Aviv University, and in his early thirties,
musical composition with Yizhak Sadai. His first
electronic compositions were on the Tel-Aviv studio’s
Synclavier Digital Music System (1983), where he
subsequently taught, directing the studio after Sadai’s
retirement, until the studio’s closing, in 2003.
Fifty years of electronic music in Israel 169
5.1. Arie Shapira and the Haifa University Studio
Arguably the most individual composer among gra-
duates of Tel Aviv University is Arik (Arie) Shapira
(1943–). Shapira began learning electronic music
composition on his own in 1962, working with tape
recorders. During his college years, he studied
harmony and counterpoint and after graduation in
1968, he attended concerts by students and faculty at
the University, rejecting their aesthetic and composi-
tional approaches. He learned about the Vocoder and
pitch-to-voltage synthesizer in professional audio
magazines in the early 1980s, which helped motivate
his return to electroacoustic composition. (Shapira
2005) Shapira views himself as an iconoclast, seeking
to break new expressive ground and to offer political
commentary through his work, as he observes, ‘Rebel-
lion and contradiction, that’s the key. I am an extre-
mist. I write radical music . . . My music is definitely
not middle-of-the-road!’ (Shapira 1996)
Shapira’s music seeks to provoke critical thinking
and reaction. His tape work Upon Thy Ruins Ophra
(1990) criticises the policies of West Bank settlers.
Gustl in Theresienstadt (1999) imagines Gustav
Mahler, having remained Jewish, ending up in a con-
centration camp (historically accurate) established by
the Nazis to house musicians and artists as a phoney
show-case for public relations purposes. Missa Viva
(1977) is an orchestral work that includes a rock
Arguably his most important work is the Kastner
Trial, Electronic Opera in Thirteen Scenes (1994). The
opera is a setting of the trial transcript from a highly
politically controversial trial involving questions of
Jewish complicity with the Nazis during World War II
and political expediency in addressing this explosive
issue. Shapira’s music engages questions of Israeli
identity and Jewish history. Many of his works, like
Kastner, Gustl and others focus upon text and lan-
guage, rather than timbre and abstraction, offering
commentary upon those texts and their subjects in a
manner that may be seen as following in Jewish tradi-
tions of verbal textual commentary. Shapira, however,
denies that his music is tied to any particular identity:
Being an Israeli composer for me is only a label. I
compose for myself. I use Western notation, but its only
technique; notation is only technique. I’m interested in
disintegration, not building. That’s aesthetics to me,
modern aesthetics. (Fleisher 1991)
In 1986, Shapira won the Prime Minister’s Prize,
followed, in 1994 by his becoming the first musical
composer since 1970 to receive the Israel Prize
Laureate. The award was controversial among some
Israeli composers and critics. Shapira concludes that
his music is ‘too modern, too aggressive’ for the Israeli
audiences, who prefer ‘traditional, old fashioned
music’ (Shapira 1996). Following sharp political cri-
ticism of his tape work Upon Thy Ruins Ophra and
the award of the Israel Prize, Shapira left Tel-Aviv
University and joined the faculty of the University of
In 2000, Arie Shapira founded the Haifa University
studio, which he serves as director. The studio has
become a growing centre of activity among Israeli
composers. Avi Elbaz is its main instructor. While
the primary function of the studio is to support the
studies of pop, rock and jazz-oriented music students,
as well as Art students, a number of electroacoustic
composers have begun to emerge.
The studio computer is equipped with a SCOPE
Creamware audio card and Cubase SX, Logic Audio,
Reaktor, Kontact, Intakt and a variety of digital pro-
cessing plug-ins, a MIDI keyboard controller, Neve
two-channel strip, and a pair of Dynaudio BM6 studio
monitors, Telefunken 372 pre-amps, UREI LA 4
Compressors and UAD cards (Elbaz 2004: 2). Elbaz
In the last years we are organising more concerts involv-
ing a lot of young musicians. At the University of Haifa
three courses of electronic music are filled with students
and it seems like younger musicians are getting into it.
(Elbaz 2004: 1)
Eitan Avitsur (1941–), best known as a conductor and
composer of instrumental and vocal music, founded
the Computer Music Laboratory at Bar-Ilan Univer-
sity in Ramat Gan, in 1995. He also directs the
University’s Electroacoustic Music Program, founded
in 1990. Avitsur has composed several electronic
works including Ele Habanim (‘These are my Sons’,
1975), dramatic oratorio for baritone solo, orator,
symphonic orchestra, and electroacoustic music; and
Figure 2. Arie Shapiro at the piano (photo courtesy of the
170 Robert J. Gluck
Megillat Haesh (‘The Scroll of Fire’, 1976), dramatic
oratorio for solo soprano, orator, chamber orchestra,
and electroacoustic music.
Composer and educator, Menachem Zur (1942–)
sees his work as following in the tradition of American
electronic music composers, especially those associ-
ated with the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music
The electronic music experience that shaped my sound
views was done at Columbia University under the
guidance of Mario Davidovsky during my studies for the
Doctor of Musical Arts, 1972–1975. That view erased
everything I ever experienced before in Israel, Europe, or
in the United States. The works of colleagues such as
Arthur Kreiger, Eric Chasalow, James Primosch – and
Mario Davidovsky above all – continue to influence
me. (Zur 2004)
Zur prides himself on close attention to every indi-
vidual sound and the shaping of sound gestures, in
his works such as Chants (1975) for magnetic tape;
Shiluvim (Combinations, 1986) for children’s choir
and magnetic tape; Alleluia (1999), for vocal sextet
and magnetic tape; Translations (2003) for percussion
and electronics. ‘In working with sounds from pre-
existing menus the composer must hide the identifiable
sound source by techniques of detuning, filtering, ring
modulating, etc., to acquire a sound that is divorced
from conventional associations.’ He describes his
aesthetic as ‘based mainly on short sounds’, paying
close attention to motivic development and pitch
organisation. ‘The main interesting component of
sound rests in its attack. This is why it is easy to create
varied electronic music based on varied envelopes
of attacks’ (Zur 2004). Zur’s compositional method
includes conceptualising and scoring his sounds
prior to working in the studio, as opposed to a more
improvisational approach:
Sketching the entire composition with its complex wave-
forms is necessary in order to conceive of a plan, espe-
cially since many new sounds are destined to join the
world of acoustic possibilities and they surprise com-
posers and technicians alike. A composer must conceive
of enough contrast and nuance at the planning stage and
be ready to change initial plans according to the many
surprises that sound production introduces. (Zur 2004)
Zur has won many awards, including several ACUM
prizes, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the 2001 Prime
Minister’s prize. He is on the faculty of the Hebrew
University of Jerusalem and at the Academy of Music
and Dance in Jerusalem, where he serves as Director
of the Electronic Music Studio. It is his belief that all
composition and conducting students should study
electronic music.
One of the truly remarkable figures in Israeli history is
Recha Freier (1892–1994), poet and founder of Aliyat
Hanoar (Youth Aliyah), an effort that rescued thou-
sands of young people from the Nazi Holocaust.
Freier herself immigrated to Israel in 1941, escaping
from Germany through Yugoslavia.
In Israel, Recha Freier became a champion of con-
temporary music. Among her efforts was the found-
ing, in 1958, of the Israeli Composer Funds (Avni
2004: 2) and, in 1966, Testimonium. Her co-organiser
was Roman Haubenstock-Ramati, a Polish-born
composer who immigrated to Israel and later settled in
Vienna, Austria. At one point, he worked at Pierre
Schaeffer’s Studio de Musique Concrète in Paris.
David Flusser (1979), an Israeli biblical scholar and
member of the Directory Council of Testimonium,
describes the rationale for the organisation as:
. . . to give musical expression to historical events and
spiritual creations during two millennia of exile of the
Jewish People. The compositions are commissioned from
Figure 3. The Haifa University Electronic Music Studio
(photo courtesy of Avi Elbaz).
Figure 4. The Haifa University Electronic Music Studio
(photo courtesy of Avi Elbaz).
Fifty years of electronic music in Israel 171
local and foreign composers, Jewish and non-Jewish and
given their world premiere at the Testimonium . . .
The name ‘Testimonium’ is based upon the Latin word
meaning testimony. Flusser describes the goal as the
giving of offering testimony regarding the history of
the Jewish people:
The life of Israel in its entirety, the sufferings, the hopes
and the service to God embodied therein, all constitute a
lasting and varied testimony. Testimonium not only tries
to give artistic expression to the experiences of previous
generations of Jews, but aims also at offering testimony
of ourselves as well as of the artists taking part. The
artists, the performers and the audience are witnesses
who offer their evidence on what happened in Jewish
history. Thus, this manifestation offers contemporary
evidence for the identification of the nation with its past.
The idea for Testimonium arose from discussions
between Freier and Haubenstock-Ramati about a pos-
sible artistic collaboration. Each Testimonium was to
be organised around a theme rooted in Jewish history.
Often Freier wrote or selected a text with which a
chosen composer would work and she would per-
sonally solicit the composer’s interest. Joseph Tal
(2004) recalls: ‘Resha would travel to them personally
and convince them to write, and they did’.
Themes for the triennial festival, which took place
from 1968 through 1984, not long before Freier’s
death, included Jerusalem (1968), The Middle Ages
(1971), Deprofundis (1974), Lucem cumfulgeret (1976),
and The Jews of Spain (1979). The final Testimonium
(1984) lacked a theme. Each festival was to take place
at the Jerusalem Theatre and the Tel-Aviv Museum.
The featured ensemble was the Jerusalem Symphony
Orchestra, conducted, starting with the 1974 festival,
by Chilean maestro Juan-Pablo Izquierdo.
The six festivals that took place during the two
decades of Testimonium included new works by
Karlheinz Stockhausen, Michael’s Youth from the
opera Licht (one of the only included works not
connected to the year’s theme), Iannis Xenakis’s
Nishima, Tzvi Avni’s Destruction of the Temple and
Jerusalem of the Heavens, Yizhak Sadai’s Trial 19
(from the Records of the Spanish Inquisition),
Yehoshua Lakner’s Mohammed’s Dream, Mauricio
Kagel’s Vox Humana, Andre Hajdu’s Ludus Pascalis,
Mark Kopytman’s Chamber Scenes From the Life of
Susskind Von Trimberg, a chamber opera for soloists,
choir, dancers and orchestra with libretto by Recha
Freier, and works by Roman Haubenstock-Ramati,
Sergiu Natra, Luigi Dallapiccola, Abel Ehrlich,
Lukas Foss, Arnold Schoenberg (in memoriam), Leon
Shidiowsky, Samuel Adler, Alexandre Tansman,
Hans-Joachim Hespos and others. Several of the
commissioned works included electronic sounds.
Recha Freier had hoped to organise a seventh Testi-
monium, which was to tentatively include new works
by Luciano Berio and Stephen Horenstein, the latter
to a text by poet Uri Tzvi Greenberg (Horenstein
2004). Unfortunately, following her death, it became
impossible to raise the funds to continue the festivals.
Tzvi Avni recalls:
A few weeks before her death at a very old age, Recha
Freier invited me for a discussion on the future of the
Testimonium, of which she was very worried. I advised
her to hand it over to the Jerusalem Foundation (under
the auspices of the municipality), which she agreed, but
somehow it did not work out. [Her son] Shalhevet spoke
with me after her death and expressed his wish to con-
tinue his mother’s legacy but nobody could apparently
manage to find the funds, which Recha somehow used to
collect. (Avni 2004: 2)
The establishment of the two Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv
electronic music studios spawned a new generation of
composers. Many of them continued their education
and/or found teaching opportunities abroad. This is
due to relatively limited resources and musical envi-
ronment that Israel can afford to electronic music
composers, especially when compared to the breadth
of possibilities to be explored in the United States.
Most of the composers, now in their forties and fifties,
who left the country, have travelled to the United
States rather than Europe, with the exception of
Rajmil Fischman, who went to the United Kingdom.
Their influences tend not to be specifically Israeli,
although most of them maintain close ties, familial
and musical, to Israel.
There are important exceptions, including Stephen
Horenstein (1948–), an immigrant from the United
States, and Dror Elimelech (1956–), whose works
include acoustic instruments and voice with live elec-
tronics. Elimelech founded the Other Israeli Music
concerts and Night Happening new music forum.
His music has been heard in concert venues and in
Figure 5. The home studio of Yossi Mar-Haim (photo
courtesy of the composer).
172 Robert J. Gluck
multimedia, dance, video, poetry, and art exhibitions.
There is also a younger generation of upcoming com-
posers, students of Arie Shapira at Haifa University,
who may represent a new trend in Israeli composers
who remain in the country.
8.1. Students of Tzvi Avni and Josef Tal: Jonathan
Berger, Shlomo Dubnov . . .
Born in New York City, Jonathan Berger (1954–) was
introduced to electronic music through the work of
Pierre Schaeffer, Mario Davidovsky, Bulent Arel and
Luigi Nono. He studied composition in Israel with
Tzvi Avni, Josef Tal and Mark Kopytman at the
Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem, and sub-
sequently with Milton Babbitt, and in the United
States with Morton Subotnick, Barry Schrader, Mel
Powell and John Chowning. He was also influenced by
the work of Bill Schottstaedt, Jacob Druckman and
Bernard Parmegiani.
I did not feel ‘liberated’ by electronics until . . . I was
working with John Chowning at Stanford. For the
most part I recall the experience of composing for tape
frustrating, tedious and largely unrewarding. Chowning,
however, got me excited by algorithmic composition –
particularly the idea of taking structure to the level of
timbre and microtime . . . (Berger 2003)
Many of Berger’s works are composed for acoustic
instruments and interactive electronics, including The
Sound Within the Hammer (1997) for flute, clarinet,
piano, viola, cello and computer; Arroyo (1998) for
motion-tracked dancer, computer and instruments;
and Con Carne (1998) for pianist and Disklavier.
Berger teaches at the Center for Computer Research
in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA).
Born in the Ukraine, Shlomo Dubnov (1962–) is
a researcher and composer. As a researcher, he is
particularly interested in the fields of advanced audio
processing and retrieval methods. Dubnov’s education
bridges electrical engineering (at the Technion), com-
puter science (at the Hebrew University), and music
(at the Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem).
Dubnov was familiar with electroacoustic music when
he learned about computer music as a field of research
during a workshop by Jonathan Berger around 1990:
My main engagement with computer music started when
I was considering a PhD in computer science. I met
Naftali Tishby, who became my PhD supervisor, who
was very interested in language understanding and I
thought to investigate music models. Then I became also
interested in musical signals, trying to model sound
timbre and texture using statistical methods. This con-
tinued into work on extracting content from audio signal
that I did at IRCAM with Xavier Rodet. In parallel I did
some work on modelling music using statistical tools
and information theory with Gerard Assayag. (Dubnov
Dubnov has composed works for live electronic per-
formance, such as Modes of Discourse (1996) for Midi
Wind Player and MAX Interactive Computer System;
and Me-Oh (1996) for voice, ensemble and live elec-
tronics; and multimedia sound installations. One of
these, Carnet de Voyage, exemplifies his transparent
use of the computer in interactive multimedia settings:
In the handling of the computer, the visitor has an active
role as in a game. Dynamics arise from an interaction
between the visitor, the musical movements, the appea-
rance or the disappearance of the material and the
colours. The visitor, with a movement of the hand, can
also reduce or increase visited space or penetrate in new
paintings. Augustine Lenoir’s paintings proceed by
successive layers, which superimposed, create an increas-
ingly dense texture. The sequence begins with a super-
position from all the paintings; then the visitor clears the
structure to go towards black and white or the integral
black. Displacement takes place by side movements of
the mouse without clicking. The sequences of sounds and
images vary in time but the user is always free to control
the scrolling speed. (IRCAM 2004)
Shlomo Dubnov is on the faculty of the University of
California at San Diego, having previously taught at
Ben-Gurion University. In 1994, he founded the Israel
Computers and Music Forum.
Another former student of Avni is Kiki Keren-Huss
(1955–). Fifteen years after graduation from the
Jerusalem Academy, she was inspired by music by
Amnon Wolman to return to composing using a DAT
recorder, microphone and desktop software. ‘I com-
posed my first piece Mi, for solo violin and tape [2000],
using recorded home sounds, fragments of an Yves
Montagne song and a sentence from a recorded
theatre production by Israeli playwright Nisim Aloni
. . . what fascinated me most was the infinite possibili-
ties of the sound and the ways one could play with
them and put them together’ (Keren-Huss 2003). Sub-
sequently, she has composed works for piano and
tape, string quartet and tape, and most recently sound
8.2. Students of Yizhak Sadai at Tel-Aviv University:
Amnon Wolman and Daniel Oppenheim
Israeli-born Amnon Wolman (1955–) is best known
for having developed a broad body of work that spans
music for instrumental soloist and live electronics,
works for varied instrumentation about Marilyn
Monroe and her meaning to gay people, tape music,
radio pieces, music for acoustic ensemble, and other
media. His music bridges tonality and abstraction,
with a sensitive to sonority and tone colour, bringing a
sensibility from electronic music to bear on how he
treats instrumental writing. After studying at Tel-Aviv
University, Wolman continued his education at the
University of Utrecht, Holland, the Institute for
Fifty years of electronic music in Israel 173
Sonology, Stanford University, and at the Aspen
Music School. He has served as director of the Com-
puter Music Studios at Northwestern University and,
currently, at Brooklyn College.
Daniel Oppenheim (1954–) is a researcher and com-
poser working in the Human Centric Tools team at the
IBM T. J. Watson Research Center in Hawthorne,
New York. For a decade he was on the staff of the
Center’s Computer Music Group, following graduate
studies at Stanford University’s Center for Computer
Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). Oppen-
heim’s interests include the design of intuitive inter-
active computer user interfaces for composers and the
application of those ideas more generally to comput-
ing. Among his long-term projects has been DMIX,
which ‘allows the composer to draw a shape that
the notes should follow. Through its graphical user
interface, the user can morph one musical passage into
another. For example, a Bach concerto can be turned
slowly into a tango and then, by tiny increments,
transformed again by adding a touch of a salsa beat’
(IBM Research 2004). Another project is Qsketcher, ‘a
new environment for composing music for film. The
main focus is the support of early stages of the creative
workflow, from idea conception through realisation,
rather than the order and synchronisation of musical
fragments with film’ (Steven Abrams, Ralph
Bellofatto, Robert Fuhrer, Daniel Oppenheim et al.
Other students in the studio at Tel-Aviv have in-
cluded Ron Kolton, Gidon Levenson, Jan Radzinsky
and Betty Olivero (1954–), a well-regarded composer
of instrumental music.
8.3. International identity: Rajmil Fischman
The music of Rajmil Fischman (1956–) reflects a
multiple, hyphenated identity. ‘My learned musical
experience derives from formal Western education
(conservatory studies in Peru, academic music studies
in Israel and Britain) as well as performance of
popular music and, to a less degree, Latin American
folk material’ (Fischman 1999). He sees in his music a
concern for the indigenous population of the Andes,
an interest in Latin American dance rhythms and
a political awareness that is often embedded within
Latin American music, and Jewish influences that
emerge from ‘the fact that part of my family suffered
and disappeared during the Holocaust because of their
Jewish identity’, as well as childhood experiences of
Jewish religious traditions and culture and a ‘fami-
liarity with much of the Old Testament and Jewish
liturgy manifested in the treatment of contemporary
Fischman’s composition Alma Latina (1996), for
instance, very subtly integrates Latin rhythms into
an abstract electroacoustic sound tapestry. Fischman
also finds in his work a ‘particular use of microtonality
to produce melodic lines that may be linked to uncon-
sciously absorbed traits, such as cantillation and
certain types of Yiddish song’. His integration of these
many influences and ideas may be seen as symbolic
of the Jewish ‘historical adaptability to continuous
changes of environment’ (Fischman 1999).
Fischman was born in Lima, Peru to parents who
emigrated from present day Moldava immediately
prior to the Holocaust. Fischman moved to Israel
at age nineteen and attended graduate school in the
United Kingdom, where he continues to live and
teach. Fischman views the multiplicity of his identity
as inherently Jewish (Fischman 1999): ‘I consider
the diversification of cultural traits in my works and
the consciousness of being at home everywhere and, at
the same time, nowhere in particular one of my Jewish
Fischman first encountered electronic music in the
late 1970s, reading books about contemporary music
and listening to works associated with the Columbia-
Princeton Center for Electronic Music, by Bulent Arel,
Vladimir Ussachevsky, Mario Davidovsky, Otto
Luening, and Milton Babbitt. When he began com-
posing his own works, in graduate school at York
University, ‘it was exhilarating and exciting, and there
was the promise of vast possibilities as technology
advanced’ (Fischman 2004). Later influences included
Gyorgy Ligeti, Luciano Berio, Witold Lutoslawsky,
Trevor Wishart, Jonty Harrison, Denis Smalley,
Francis Dhomont and Bernard Parmegianni. In
addition to composing, Fischman teaches at Keele
University in the United Kingdom and develops
compositional software, including KEELEDESK
(1991–), AL (Algorithmic Composition Graphics
Environment) and ERWIN – COM, a granular
synthesis plug-in, in the context of the Composers
Desktop Project.
8.4. Stephen Horenstein (1948–) and the Jerusalem
Institute of Contemporary Music
American-born Stephen Horenstein is a composer,
educator, saxophonist and founder, in 1987, of the
Jerusalem Institute of Contemporary Music and its
resident experimental music ensemble, the Jerusalem
New Music Ensemble. The Jerusalem Institute
includes a workshop for electronically expanded
musical instruments, including what Horenstein refers
to as ‘hyperinstruments’, a term coined by MIT Media
Lab’s Tod Machover. This is a reflection of Horen-
stein’s strong interest in composing and performing
works for live performance with electronics. Among
the most noted features of his work has been his inte-
gration of traditional Jewish source material, includ-
ing, in Agadot (1985), sounds suggestive of those
described in biblical texts and, in Andarta (1986), field
174 Robert J. Gluck
recordings of Holocaust survivors emerging from
concentration and displaced persons camps.
Horenstein’s interest in electronic music developed
gradually. In college, he heard Luciano Berio’s Visage
and Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Mikrophonie I, and as
a faculty member at Bennington College, he learned
from his mentor, Bill Dixon, who ‘manipulated the
trumpet physically to simulate electronic effects’
(Horenstein 2004), and he listened to the sounds of
Joel Chadabe’s studio immediately above his office.
After Horenstein immigrated to Israel in 1980, his
music began incorporating interactive electronics,
tape and mixed media. The first such work was an
environmental composition, a sound environment for
the Israel Museum, Seven Faces of a Garden (1981),
which included processed sounds diffused around a
garden, in conjunction with dancers and work by
architect Isamu Noguchi. He considers his work in this
domain, “explorations in outdoor environmental and
spatial applications of sounds, including the blending
of musical and physical architectural principles” to
be among his most significant artistic contributions
and “a way to bring electroacoustic music to a wider
audience in Israel.” (Horenstein 2005)
Horenstein’s work has been influenced in subtle
ways by living in Israel, as he observes:
I’m in the middle of a tornado here, in the most volatile
place in the world, and I feel it’s a very vital place to be –
the tension emanates from the day-to-day compression
that one feels. I use these opposite extremes in my music.
Thus, my work is very much rooted in collage, very much
an extension of an Ivesian approach to the unity of
opposite qualities of sound. (Fleischer 1996: 233)
Stephen Horenstein has taught at Bennington College,
the Jerusalem Academy of Music, and Tel Aviv
University. He has founded music programmes and
curricula in Israeli and Jewish-American high schools
in Boston, Massachusetts. He has been a Jerusalem
Fellow and the recipient of awards from the National
Endowment of the Arts and the America Israel
Cultural Foundation.
8.5. Students of Arie Shapira at Haifa University
The studio at Haifa University is now the most active
environment for training upcoming electronic music
composers in Israel. Among the composers who have
studied with Shapira are Avi Elbaz, who teaches in the
Haifa University studio, Uri Pesach, Itsik Mizrachi,
live electronic performer Gil Wasserman, Guy
Rosenfarb, and Offir Ilzetzki and Dganit Elyakim,
who are both continuing their graduate studies in The
Avi Elbaz (1961–) immigrated to Israel from
Morocco with his family in 1970. A few years after
hearing a work by John Cage while at Berkeley
College of Music in Boston (‘I was shocked and
confused . . .’), he experienced music by Arie Shapira
on the radio. ‘I still felt confused but I could feel
that he was talking to me in a new language that one
has to know if you want to understand. That was the
first time that the term modern music or electronic
music started to act on my imagination’ (Elbaz 2004).
Elbaz began to study privately with Shapira, compos-
ing a text-based piece using analogue equipment. A
distinct aspect of his work has been its non-Western
I am trying in my work to connect modern language as
electronic with older cultures like Moroccan music and
language and trying to keep a very delicate balance
between modern music and feel. Modern music needn’t
be disconnected to very simple and natural elements that
can bring people to feel something and to get excited.
(Elbaz 2004)
Gil Wasserman (1965–) performs with Ilan Green
(1963–) in the live electronic duo, Krechtz. Green
and Wasserman design and build their own instru-
ments, including feedback circuits, new-fangled
devices like ‘Disconnections Gtr’, ‘Prepared Toys’ and
‘Baloonon’, circuit-bending electronic toys like ‘Koto-
Tea’, ‘Egg-Harp Ventilation’ and various kitchen
appliances, all used in combination with hi-tech
equipment. The duo describe themselves as:
two musician-inventors composing ‘serious’ music in
the space of their basement lab . . . the music of feedback
circuits combined with the sound of processed kitchen
bowls played with marbles . . . Krechtz music usually
grows from building or programming curious instru-
ments, playing around with them, and composing a piece
from the results . . . It’s not about melodies or harmonies,
it’s about playing the instruments in both senses of the
word. (Green 2004: 2)
Keren Rosenbaum (1970–) is a multimedia artist in
New York City. Her work integrates music, video,
dance and theatre with electronic music and art, in
multimedia works such as the opera CHAT (2001–),
Figure 6. Krecht in performance (photo courtesy of Ilan
Fifty years of electronic music in Israel 175
Washing Machine (1999) for piccolo, violin, voice,
pre-recorded soundtrack and video installation; and
Construction Site (2000) for video art and installation.
She has also played a notable role as a pioneer of
multimedia performance in Israel through her direc-
tion of the New Voices Festival and her work with the
Reflex Ensemble.
8.6. Researchers: Israel Computers and Music Forum,
Dan Gang
ICMF was organised by Shlomo Dubnov in 1994 to
facilitate two-way dialogue between people in the
fields of music and technology, with hopes that each
discipline can inform the other. Its goals were defined
in this manner:
to conduct multi-disciplinary research in computer
science, engineering and acoustics in the field of music; to
encourage composers into producing new works of music
using new technologies; to promote computer-aided
musicological research, and to serve as a means of
exchange among those researchers; to establish con-
tinuous relationships with the international musical and
scientific communities; to promote pedagogic efforts in
the field; to promote production of public events that
bring to the public eye the results of computers and music
activity and the evolution of musical thought. (Dubnov
The membership of ICMF has reflected the range
of research and composition taking place in Israel,
including Shlomo Dubnov, Naftali Tishby, Dalia
Cohen, Dan Gang, Daniel Leman, Claudia Goldman,
Jeffrey Rosenschein, Naftali Wagner, Ron Vinocourt,
Hezi Yeshurun, Joseph Tal, Uri Shimony and Mira
Balaban. The ICMF has held five meetings to date,
1994–1996, that have rotated around major centres
of activity: the Academy of Music and Dance in
Jerusalem, Ben Gurion University, Bar-Ilan Univer-
sity, Rubin Academy in Tel-Aviv, and the Technion in
Haifa, where Joseph Tal and Uri Shimony have
worked on notation systems for electronic music. The
organisation maintains a listserv (
and an ftp site.
Among the researchers who have been connected
with the ICMF is Dan Gang (1962–). Gang’s work
explores the intersection of artificial intelligence,
music and cognition. Born in Haifa, he studied at the
Hebrew University and at Stanford University’s
Center for Computer Research in Music and Acous-
tics (CCRMA). Among his interests are applications
of Recurrent Neural Networks to understand the real
time choices of performers, as they learn chords,
harmonise melodies and create polyphony, and the
perceptual experience of listeners, as their expecta-
tions are met or confounded (Gang 2004: 1). Gang
founded the company Music Genome, in 2000, based
in Ramat Gan, Israel and Sunnyvale, California to
apply artificial intelligence and music cognition
models to predict the musical preferences of listeners
to facilitate retail sales (MusicGenome 2004: 2).
8.7. Gil Weinberg and a musicology computer music
lab at Tel-Aviv University
Gil Weinberg (1967–) is a researcher, composer
and educator, and Director of Music Technology at
the George Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech).
Weinberg is interested in designing hardware and soft-
ware that allows expressive group musical engagement
(Weinberg 2003a). This has included Beat Bug, a core
element in Tod Machover’s Toy Symphony (2003),
and the Voice Network Installation, Squeezables and
Fireflies. Beat Bug is a musical instrument that allows
children and novice musicians to join in collaborative
music-making, what he calls ‘Interconnected Musical
Networks (IMNs)’. Weinberg seeks to:
design algorithms that would bridge between the
thoughtful and the expressive . . . by embedding cognitive
and educational concepts in newly designed interconnect
instruments and applications . . . live performance sys-
tems that allow players to influence, share, and shape
each other’s music in real-time. (Weinberg 2003b)
Weinberg was educated at Tel-Aviv University, in the
Musicology Department, where, in 1994, he founded
a computer music lab for musicology students, and
he developed coursework in MIDI, notation, sequenc-
ing and recording. Students also work with graphics
and video software on the same workstations. The
Musicology Department recently merged with the
Rubin Academy.
Gilad Keren (1959–) and Meir Shashoua (1963–) have
pioneered digital audio processing technologies. Their
Figure 7. Krecht in performance (photo courtesy of Ilan
176 Robert J. Gluck
company, Waves, founded in Israel in 1988 and based
in Knoxville, Tennessee and Tel-Aviv, emerged as
the fruit of a friendship and a shared love of musical
technology. ‘Waves is the leading provider of DSP
[digital signal processing] solutions for audio profes-
sionals in content creation and MaxxTM audio signal
processing solutions for consumer electronics . . .
Waves’ Maxx technology dramatically enhances
audio performance in consumer applications and has
been licensed to several leading audio companies
including Microsoft, Motorola, Samsung and Sanyo’
(Keren and Shashoua 2004).
Keren studied at the ORT technical high school and
Applied Mathematics at the Technion, in Haifa, and
he became a sound engineer. ‘Like many teenage boys,
I was interested in music, but I didn’t play any instru-
ments. I studied electronics and I was involved in these
sorts of things . . . When I was 21, one half year before
I was done with my military service, I had ideas about
sound and I went to a musician and he recommended
that I talk to someone . . . and I was referred to
Tommy Friedman at the Altec Lansing’s multimedia
technology department . . . I went to see him at his
studio, Tritone. As soon as I walked into the control
room, I saw the equipment and things came together
for me [in my mind]’ (Keren 2004).
Shashoua grew up as a musician and self-taught
builder of electronic circuitry, gaining formal training
in the army. ‘We set out to make a digital Vocoder.
Soon we found out that just doing digital synthesis was
hard enough. We decided that we would crawl first . . .
started writing code in 1988, and we had a prototype
in 1989. We showed it in New York City at the AES
[Audio Engineering Society] convention’ (Keren
2004). The core of their technologies was, from the
start in 1986, the Motorola DSP (digital signal pro-
cessing) 56000 chip, for which there was a digital to
analogue and analogue to digital conversion evalua-
tion board, to which Shashoua gained access at a
university. And then, ‘Gilad surprised me and told me
that he bought the evaluation board and that’s how
the garage studio started. Our first prototype – an
equaliser – was [developed] right then’ (Shashoua
An important influence on the development of
Waves’ products was mathematician and audio theo-
rist, Michael Gerzon (1945–1996), best known for his
development of Ambisonics, an approach to surround
sound. After his death, Keren and Shashoua (2004)
wrote in his obituary, ‘We have been working with him
during the last 5 years at Waves and if there is any-
thing like a father to a company – this is what Michael
was for Waves’. His work played an important role
in the Waves’ TrueVerb plug-in, S1 Stereo Imager,
L1 and L2 ultamaximisers, C1 [Compressor, Gate,
Expander], StereoMaker, and the Increased Digital
resolution. At present, the company is considering
moving into publishing information technologies,
expanding beyond plug-ins to books and other
Electronic music composition and performance has a
long history in the State of Israel. Its composers, those
living in Israel and abroad (mostly in the United
States), approach their creative work from a great
variety of perspectives and backgrounds. It is thus dif-
ficult to generalise about the nature of this musical
genre. Nonetheless, there are some basic commona-
lities about which one may comment. Composer
Jonathan Berger makes an apt observation when he
notes that ‘Israeli music explores national identity,
and incorporates multiculturalism; it often has
uncharacteristic (perhaps ‘un-cool’) expressivity –
which I find most appealing’ (Berger 2004).
Berger’s comments are relevant to many Israeli
composers in general, those who compose electronic,
as well as acoustic instrumental and vocal music. Israel
is a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society, although
most of the historical models for electronic music and
most of its Israeli composers are European by heri-
tage. Israeli identity, because of the young age of
the nation, founded in 1948, and the complexities and
varieties of Jewish identity (religious, secular, post-
Holocaust, immigration from Middle Eastern, Euro-
pean, African and Asian societies), which represents
one of the core aspects of Israeli identity, often leads
Israeli artists and musicians to explore identity issues
in their work, directly or indirectly. Some Israeli com-
posers create in a more European, abstract, musical
language, among them Yizhak Sadai and Menahem
Zur. A number of composers create works that draw
upon Hebrew language texts, integrating the sounds
of Hebrew into the sonic texture. Among these are
Tzvi Avni, Joseph Dorfman, Stephen Horenstein, and
Arik Shapira, most notably a feature in his predomi-
nantly text-based opera The Kastner Trial. Although
the Israeli composers discussed in this article are
secular and distant from religious identity, the work
of Tzvi Avni, Rajmil Fischman, Stephen Horenstein
and others at times contains inflections of traditional
Jewish music and traditional Jewish historical refer-
ences, especially the Bible and the Holocaust. There
has been little electronic music to date reflective of
the surrounding Middle Eastern cultures where many
Israelis were born. One exception is Avi Elbaz, who
integrates elements of Moroccan music and culture
into his work. Horenstein (2004) speaks of an Israeli
‘utilising a different time sense emanating from
Middle East’.
It is difficult to say whether the trend is more
towards abstraction or to an identifiable Israeli
Fifty years of electronic music in Israel 177
flavour. Certainly, with the exception of new immi-
grants, the creation of an Israeli identity is a task that
is not presently in flux. Recall Tzvi Avni’s statement,
quoted earlier:
Let’s say in the 1950s and the 1960s I was very busy, like
many others, trying to understand what it meant to be an
Israeli. But now, you know, we have a kind of national
identity here, and you look for the wider cultural identity
much more than local nationalism, which is now perhaps
already established. (Fleisher 1996)
Whether changes in the unstable regional political
situation will cause shifts that will be reflected in
future music is unknown. It is possible that continued
tensions and a lack of political resolution might lead
more composers to create politically inspired works. I
have encountered few Israeli composers who are apo-
litical. It is also possible that the sharp divide between
religious and secular Israelis will narrow, with the
emergence of non-Orthodox religious forms, resulting
in a reconsideration of identity issues. Certainly, most,
if not all, Israeli electronic music composers are
secular in orientation. Fewer are currently exploring
biblical themes than had composers of the earlier
generation. It is equally possible that religious divi-
sions, which have political consequences in Israel due
to the politicised nature of religious authority, could
increase, also influencing musical expression.
A major issue facing Israeli composers is that their
creative work has not been received with a high level of
critical acceptance or institutional support in their
home country. The only music familiar to masses of
Israelis, and that uses electronic media, is popular
dance music, especially trance. Most Israelis are
largely, if not entirely, unaware of the composers or
forms of music discussed in this paper. Avi Elbaz
We have a lot of difficulties but I think that the major
are radio and television. We don’t have any regular time
to play our music or the chance to connect more audi-
ences to that kind of music. Stations are refusing to play
modern music. (Elbaz 2004)
Rajmil Fischman adds:
Perhaps the most difficult problem is that of funding for
arts, which cannot become completely independent of
sponsoring, since they do not have mass appeal. This is
accompanied by lack of media interest and exposure.
There are artistic pursuits that are bound to remain
within minorities (not only electronic music but also
some traditional folk genres, classical concerts which are
not digests of masterpieces) . . . (Fischman 2004)
It has not been common for electronic music
composers to receive major national prizes or receive
substantial State support. In fact, when the coveted
Israel Prize was granted to Arik Shapira in the early
1990s, the announcement was met with great contro-
versy, largely on the part of fellow composers. Some
felt that the Prize should be granted to a more main-
stream, more senior composer. To this observer’s
mind, the controversies at least in part point to the
very limited degree of acknowledgement available
in Israel today for any electronic music composer,
leading to an unfortunate degree of competition.
There are now only three surviving electronic music
studios among all of those that were established at
universities. The recent closing of the studio at the
Tel-Aviv Rubin Academy leaves only the Jerusalem
Academy studio, the decade-old Bar-Ilan Laboratory
and the Haifa University studio remaining active. In
addition to this is the ‘hyper-instrument’ workshop of
the Jerusalem Institute of Contemporary Music. The
closing of the Israel Center for Electronic Music at
the Hebrew University, founded by Joseph Tal, and
the Electronic Music Studio at the Rubin Academy of
Music in Tel-Aviv, founded by Yizhak Sadai, both
after several decades in operation, represents a loss of
not only educational and creative resources, but of a
historical legacy. Composers outside of academia have
even more limited options.
Finally, many of the most significant composers in
their thirties and forties have moved to the United
States, where they can find academic employment,
support for their work, and venues for performance.
Some composers now in the United States return to
Israel for extended visits or teaching, but the locus of
activity for Israeli-born composers and performers of
electronic music is not in the land of their birth. This is
unfortunate, although it allows the work of Israeli
composers to flourish.
I believe that the situation is well described in a
conversation between Shlomo Dubnov and Joseph
Tal: It [the 1950s] was a difficult period. Today is difficult
too. It is typical for Jewish history, but then we remain
Dubnov: You can’t compare then and today.
Tal: For Moses it was hard to carve the Ten
Commandments in stone.
Dubnov: So then it was like Egypt and now like in the
Tal: Something like that. (Tal 2004)
The number of Israeli composers and the level of
activity over the past half century suggest that elec-
tronic music has been a lively and engaged movement,
even as it remains marginal to Israeli public life.
Stephen Horenstein (2004) observes that an important
178 Robert J. Gluck
attribute of composers in Israel has been their ability
to ‘maximise modest resources for maximum effect’.
He adds that despite the challenges, Israeli composers
have exhibited ‘necessity and artistic drive, in the
midst of many obstacles: lack of public funding,
audience. . .’.
It is worth considering whether a new generation
of Israeli composers, working in more popular genres,
will move outside of the commercial world that they
currently inhabit. Yossi Mar-Haim notes:
Right now most electronic activity is done by young
people who are closer to pop music, done at home with
smaller equipment, mostly samplers, and performed at
clubs and fringe theatres. The university labs did not
produce major works in the pure electro-acoustic sense.
There are however some new voice artists that [are]
find[ing] a new way, combined with visual ideas.
(Mar-Haim 2003)
Avi Elbaz adds that ‘In high schools more institutes
have started to teach electronic music as part of their
programmes’ (Elbaz 2004: 1). Joseph Tal found that
such programmes had helped build support for his
work in the 1970s. Elbaz concludes ‘I believe that the
audience will grow in the future and more young musi-
cians will create music in that area, so it is currently a
question of time but it is very hard to say how long’.
Is it possible that the availability of small, relatively
inexpensive equipment will result in a creative syn-
thesis of popular forms with more experimental
models? Will the rise of multimedia performance
(including live video mixes by vj’s) in popular music
veins have a positive effect on such output? Unless
there is an exposure to experimental forms, currently a
rarity, this seems less likely.
Rajmil Fischman sees the possibility that the
marginalisation of electronic and computer music
could end:
After a dynamic beginning in the 1960s and 1970s, elec-
tronic music in Israel became constrained to pockets of
activity (for example, Yitzhak Sadai in the 1980s, Raviv
Gazit and Arie Shapira in the 1980s and 1990s, Josef Tal,
consistently since the 1950s, Tsippi Fleischer, sporadi-
cally in the 1990s), which were rather dependent on the
particular aesthetic approach of a few practitioners. I
believe that this is changing due to more international
exposure, availability of tools, use of technology in
popular music, contemporary musical pluralism, the
Internet revolution and the emphasis put on electroa-
coustic music in educational institutions such as Haifa
University, and that there is a new generation emerging,
which promises vitality and creative drive. (Fischman
Stephen Horenstein describes his hopes of future
I dream of establishing a world-class studio, available to
all composers who are affiliated with the center, raising
money from interested donors, here and abroad.
I envision a move to create interactive projects
(musicians/electronics) in the major academies, building
collaborative relationships between performers and
I dream of a new repertoire that builds on the indigenous
sound material found in the Middle East, and from
echoes of Jewish history and consciousness.
I hope for a new renaissance of collaborations between
composers and artists from other media, utilising the
potentials of electronic sound. (Horenstein 2004)
Despite all challenges, Israeli composers of weight
and significance continue to compose and perform,
sometimes in their homeland. Arie Shapira, Stephen
Horenstein, Menahem Zur, Yossi Mar-Haim and
others remain active within Israel. The live electronic
duo, Krechtz, featuring Ilan Green and Gil Wasser-
man, thus represents a spark of new life and a new
direction for Israeli performance. There is an Israeli
presence of merit within international computer music
and throughout American universities, among them
Amnon Wolman, Jonathan Berger, Gil Weinberg,
and Shlomo Dubnov. Keren Rosenbaum, based in the
United States, is an increasingly active composer who
maintains a presence and influence in Israel. The Haifa
University studio, under Arie Shapira, is a growing
hotbed of activity. In summary, the heritage of Joseph
Tal, Yizhak Sadai and Tzvi Avni remains alive and
creative, albeit facing an uncertain future in its land
of origin.
Thanks go to the many composers, educators and
writers who have given their time and attention to this
project. Among them are Tzvi Avni, Yossi Mar-Haim,
Ofer ben-Amots, Joseph Dorfman, Arik Shapira,
Amnon Wolman, Shlomo Dubnov, Eitan Avitsur,
Jonathan Berger, Menahem Zur, Dan Yuhas, Kiki
Keren-Huss, Guy Rosenfarb, Raviv Gazit, Yizhak
Sadai, Gilad Keren, Meir Shashoua, Keren Rosen-
baum, Mira Zakai, Anna Immanuel, Joel Chadabe,
Don Goodman, Ilan Green, Avi Elbaz, Daniel Oppen-
heim, Rajmil Fischman, Stephen Horenstein, Gil
Weinberg, Marianne Brün and Anna Immanuel.
Special thanks go to Shlomo Dubnov for conducting
two interviews with Joseph Tal, the first at the same
time that he was preparing to move to a new academic
position, many miles from home. This article was
researched and written in tandem with my work as
co-Executive Editor (with Joel Chadabe) of the Elec-
tronic Music Foundation’s EMF Institute, a web-
based historical resource centre about the history of
electronic music. Additional materials relating to
this topic may be found on that website: http://www.
Two web resources about Israeli composers worthy
of reference include the Israel Composer’s League:
Fifty years of electronic music in Israel 179 (2004); and the
Israel Music Institute: (2004).
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Full-text available
Spanning more than 2700 pages, the notebooks Mordecai Seter had written between 1952 and 1993 feature more than to-do lists, teaching schedules, and other errands involving the musicians and functionaries that performed, published or broadcast his music. The notebooks disclose dozens of stylistic self-analyses (whose growing volume in the 1960s and 1970s would signal a creative impasse) alongside numerous citations from books on Jewish mysticism, esotericism, symbolism, philosophy, psychoanalysis, modernism, art history, and musicology that Seter repurposed as borrowed autobiographical snippets. Combined, these two facets shed new light on his aesthetic shifts as well as on the stipulations of the historiography of art music in Israel. And as unsung chapters of Seter’s autobiography unfold, they also thicken the biography of a bigger ecosystem, unconditioned by notions of peripherality or Otherness.
Israeli art music penned from the late 1930s to the early 1960s unfolds early serial practices in Mandatory (British) Palestine that had come to the fore during the early post-statehood years, when growing disillusionment with romanticist nationalism loomed large. Abandoning peripheral native masks, composers responded to the post-statehood shift by either adapting the linear properties of non-Western Jewish music, which they aligned with local readings of serial devices, or through the destabilization of folk-like dances and exotic musical markers. Shifts in Israeli poetry parallel the emerging attitudes of the first cohort of native Israeli composers and the gradual fading of the nation’s unisonality from their music.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We describe QSketcher, a new environment for composing music for film. The main focus is the support of early stages of the creative workflow, from idea conception through realization, rather than the order and synchronization of musical fragments with film. This paper describes the design process and rationale, the system, the user environment, and how they relate to one another. Novel aspects of the system include a free-form 'idea space', a main workspace that can be configured to individual needs, an "idea capturing" facility, a workflow tracking mechanism through which previous workspace states can be examined and restored, and the ability to create a variety of relationships among musical elements.
In this article, the author presents a personal view of his compositional identity as an instance of one of the innumerable possible outcomes within a civilization that has become global and individualistic at the same time. The author situates identity within the context of historical, political and social backgrounds and examines it from the point of view of the mechanics of its realization, social function and reach, and cultural baggageincluding musical influences from various traditions, technology and science.
This article deals with two of my works, both of which were composed to literary texts in Arabic. The first is one of my shortest compositions and the second is one of the longest. The Gown of Night (1988), for magnetic tape, is based on the voices of Bedouin children articulating a text by Muhammad Ghana’im (Israel) and lasts 2 minutes and 42 seconds. Like Two Branches (1989), a cantata for chamber choir, two oboes, kanun (or piano), violoncello and a set of supplemented tar drums, is based on text by Al-Khansa – who lived in the Arabian Peninsula in the sixth century AD – and lasts 42 minutes. The ongoing process involving the composition of these two works in the late 1980s resulted in their successive appearance in 1988 and 1990.