Abel Ehrlich

Israeli composer

Abel Ehrlich (Cranz, 1915 – Tel-Aviv, 2003 immigrated in 1939), 1997 Israel Prize laureate, is the most prolific of all Israeli composers, with more than 3,000 pieces. He studied first in Zagreb, and later with Rosowsky (1939-1944) in Eretz-Israel, and taught many of the third generation of composers in various institutions and at the Tel-Aviv music academy since 1964 (1967-1991, at Tel Aviv University). Although he was interested in Mizrahi music, most of his works are atonal or serial. “His musical language ranges from accessible, tonal, metric and witty neoclassicism to pointillism, clusters and dissonant atonality”.[1] His most well known and most performed piece (sadly, Ehrlich would argue) is still the 1953 Bashrav for solo violin, where he evokes the Turkish rondo-like form, bashreff, and its microtones in an expanded-modal piece that is considered as a part the Mediterranean style of the 1950s. Since the 1960s, and after four visits to Darmstadt and studies with Stockhausen, Ehrlich’s appreciation for and tendencies toward the second Viennese school, especially Webern, had been most salient in his music. Many of his vocal pieces use Hebrew and biblical texts, and some include tunes, themes or melodic cells of various Mizrahi cantilation, notably from Djerba. Other pieces of his extraordinary oeuvre are Towers and Shades (oratorio, 1960, unpublished); Radiations (piano, 1961), Be Ye Not as Your Fathers (choir, 1964), Dead Souls (opera, after Gogol, 1978), and Job (oratorio, 1990).


[1] Fleisher, Robert Jay. Twenty Israeli composers: voices of a culture.