Ezra Aharon ("Azuri")

Composer, singer and 'ud player
1903-1995

Ezra Aharon ("Azuri") (Bhagdad, 1903 – 1995, immigrated to Israel in 1935) was an outstanding composer, ‘ud player, singer, conductor, and performer of Arab art music. He was student of Tanburi Ibrahim Bey in Iraq and was recording both Iraqi and Egyptian styles by 1929. He was the prizewinner for the ‘ud at the 1932 International Congress of Oriental Music, Cairo.

Aharon immigrated from Iraq to Israel in 1935  and developed ‘Oriental’ styles in Palestine/Israel. He was active on Arabic broadcasting media in Israel and known as a radio programmer mostly in the 1950's-1960's, when most musicians considered only Western music as “high art.” Nonetheless, in addition to his many devout listeners among Mizrahi communities (nearing 50% of the Jewish population), many leading composers listened to and appreciated his radio programs, if only to gain ideas for the integration of Mizrahi elements in their own music. He composed songs with both Hebrew and Arabic texts as well as large instrumental and vocal works in Oriental styles. He had broad knowledge of Iraqi maqamat but specialized in Egyptian style.

Written and sources by Ronit Seter and Esther Warkov.

 

More biographies:

The World Online Encyclopedia

Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World

Zemereshet  (Hebrew)

 

In this 45-minute sound interview Aharon shares three of his 78 rpm historic recordings with Esther Warkov.  Aharon and wife, Shulamit Aharon, discuss the musical styles that inform these compositions. (Hebrew, Iraqi Arabic, and English) (The recording continues with Yaqub al-‘Amari, nay, at minute 45:50.  See description under al-‘Amari, below.)

 

Aharon’s historic recordings with photos and documentation on Esther Warkov’s Music for Peace in the Middle East YouTube channel:

Ah Ya Nass al Hawa Law Hakam 

Khuntini 

On the sickbed

 

Sound recordings at National Library of Israel (catalogue in Hebrew):

Archive of Ezra Aharon

Bait Lazemer Haivri ("בית לזמר העברי")

 

Selected recordings:

Taksim Oud Maqam Bayati

Hanita (חניתה. מילים: ש. שלום, לחן: עזרא אהרן)

Adon Haselichot (אדון הסליחות בביצוע המלחין והמוסיקאי עזרא אהרון ז"ל)

lo bayom veloo balyla/Bialik (לא ביום ולא בלילה, ביצוע נדיר בסגנון המזרח, עזרא אהרון)

עזרא אהרון (עזורי) - רח א-שבאב   

מנהג חדש 

Ki Eshmera Shabbat (עזרא אהרון כי אשמרה שבת 1952)

Achot Ketana (אחות קטנה ראסט לחן: עזרא אהרון)

See also the Library of Congress

 

Articles:

The Urban Arabic Repertoire of Jewish Professional Musicians in Iraq and Israel: Instrumental Improvisation and Culture Change Ph.D. dissertation by Esther Warkov.

Hirshberg, Jehoash. “Performers Between East and West – Ideology and Reality in the Yishuv.” In Musical Performance, an International Journal, Vol. 1 issue 2 (no year) The Performance of Jewish and Arab Music in Israel Today, Basil Tschaikov and Amnon Shiloah, eds.

Lachman, Robert. 2013. The Oriental Music Broadcasts, 1936-1937: A Musical Ethnography of Mandatory Palestine. Ruth F. David, ed. pp. 85-87. Middleton, WI: A-R Editions, Inc.

Cohen, Brigid. 2012. Stefan Wolpe and the Avant-Garde Diaspora. Cambridge University Press.

  (in Hebrew) אמנון שילוח, "עזרא אהרון ו'הזמר העברי המזרחי' בתקופת היישוב" בתוך ירושלים בתקופת המנדט: העשייה והמורשת, עורך: יהושע אריה (ירושלים: הוצאת יד בן צבי, 2003) 450- 472.

 

 

 

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