— Bibliographic Items

“Beyond All This Hides a Great Happiness”: Israeliness and Jewishness in the work of Mark Kopitman

Material Type: 
Proceedings of Academic Conferences
Place of Recording: 
Country / Area: 
The Fifteenth World Congress Of Jewish Studies Jerusalem

Session: Between Israeli and Jewish in Music
Chair: Yehoash Hirshberg


Two cantatas by Mark Kopytman, October Sun and Scattered Rhymes (both based on texts by Yehuda Amichai) express ambivalence so typical of the Israeli state of mind. A comment on the Yom Kippur War, the text of October Sun is marked by its aphoristic dryness, while expressing the author’s utter despair and sorrow. Kopytman’s music, on the contrary, helps to give vent to agonizing and bitter feelings; it also connects the Jewish and Israeli worlds through the inclusion of shofar-like sounds, as a symbol of the continuity of the Jewish tradition in our time.

In its own way, Scattered Rhymes is no less paradoxical than October Sun. For instance, Amichai’s key phrase – “Beyond all this hides a great happiness” – is treated by Kopytman as a kind of open intermediate cadence. This last phrase of the work makes the listener inevitably wonder: is it a question or an affirmation? The music leaves the question open. At this point, when the composition culminates in a question, an unexpected but nonetheless quite natural link between Israeliness and Jewishness arises, since the approach of constant questioning is an integral part of the Jewish spiritual tradition. I believe it is not accidental that Kopytman adheres – perhaps unintentionally – to a similar approach.

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