Yehezkiel Braun

Israeli composer

Yehezkel Braun (b. Breslau, 1922, immigrated in 1924, lived in Tel-Aviv), the senior of Israeli composers who were raised and educated in Israel, is most known for his often-performed choral music. A 2001 Israel Prize laureate, he is probably the most published Israeli composer, with over 120 works published by the Israel Music Institute. His feeling for modality in harmony and counterpoint was sharpened by studies under Boskovich (who supported folklorism à la Bartók) in the Tel-Aviv Academy of Music (1947-53), and later at the St. Pierre de Solesmes Monastery in France (since 1975), where he researched Gregorian chant. Between 1979 and 1981 he chaired that academy (renamed The Rubin Israel Academy of Music at Tel Aviv University), where he taught, since 1982 as a professor, until 1990. Braun’s attraction for folklore is consistent throughout his life, although he wrote a few serial works as well. His work with modal music – mainly traditional Mizrahi tunes (Yemenite), but also some Ashkenazi ones and Israeli folklore (Russian-French influenced) – which he compared with Gregorian chant, led him to a conclusion similar to Idelsohn’s, that there is common basis, a certain pentatonic scale, for Jewish cantilation – Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, and Yemenite alike, and that basis is related to parts of Gregorian chant. Hence, “It is certainly not an accident that the pentatonic scale serves as a starting point in many of my compositions.” Among his most known works are his work for the young, Apartment to Let (narrator and chamber orchestra, 1959-68), The Love of Therese du Meun (soprano and piano; 13 more versions, also for flute, harp and double bass, 1960/1991), Behold, My Beloved; Molinero (both for mixed choir, 1978), Illuminations to the Book of Ruth (chamber orchestra, 1965), Psalm Verses (children’s choir, 1982), Fifteen Passover Songs (1982), Hallel (tenor, choir, chamber orchestra, 1983 and Concerto for harp (1991). His most recent piece was orchestrated for santur and piano trio (2001).

Written by Dr. Ronit Seter

Click here for an additional biography on the Milken Archive of Jewish Music website. 

Yossi Melman on Yehezkel Braun in his blog (Hebrew):