Song of the Month:

January 2009

The widely known “Hebrew Melody” by Joseph Achron was composed in 1911 as a piece for violin, and as such it was performed in concerts of the “Society for Jewish Folk Music.” Later on, Achron returned to this work at least twice, creating new versions which are much less known. The version of 1928 is set for soprano and piano, with a Russian text written by Achron’s wife, Marie Rap-hoph Achron. It was intended to be performed by Nina Koschetz, the famous Russian soprano whose life intersected with major Russian composers such as Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev.

In 1935 Achron returned to this vocal version of the “Hebrew Melody,” adding to it a violin obligato part. This version was restored by Dr. Leonid Butir according to the composer’s drafts found in the Joseph Achron Archive (MUS 12) at the Music Department of the Israel National Library and is played tonight for the first time in Israel. The Music Department holds rare collections of manuscripts and printed materials of Jewish and Israeli music including many related to the circles of the Saint Petersburg Society of Jewish Folk Music.


Free English translation of the text for the vocal version of “Hebrew Melody” by Marie Rap-hoph Achron as printed in the Carl Fischer’s edition of this work.


Wails of the lowly
Sayings most holy,
In the olden melodies return,
Floating softly over hearts that burn.

Israel’s pain
Fills the earth ever again
When the olden melodies return
Floating softly over hearts that burn.

Homelands heart-locked
Where the cradle was rocked
In the olden melodies return,
Floating softly over hearts that burn.

Glory denied
And a folk's long-buried pride
In the olden melodies return,
Floating softly over hearts that burn.

The nobility in every soul
And the love for Zion’s sacred goal
Within me rise
Till the tears come blinding to my eyes.

And the flooding tears, the ancient groan
Welling upward reach to Heaven’s throne,
Where the Lord of earth and sky
Harks to that exceeding bitter cry.

Wails of the lowly
Saying most holy…



Sound Examples: 
The performance from the concert

January 8, 2009 . Performers: Sivan Rotem, soprano; Gilad Hildesheim, violin; Jascha Nemtsov, piano