Aharon, Ezra

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AHARON, EZRA (1903–1995), composer, 'ud player, and singer. Aharon was born in Baghdad, where he acquired a sound reputation as a versatile musician and a leading virtuoso and composer. The His Master's Voice and Baidaphon companies recorded many of his compositions. He was selected by the Iraqi authorities to head a group of musicians to represent his country at the First International Congress of Arab Music held in Cairo in 1932. The delegation comprised six Jewish instrumentalists plus a vocalist who was a Muslim. The participants in the Congress, including the composers Bartok and Hindemith and the musicologists Robert *Lachmann, Curt *Sachs, and H.G. Farmer, chose Aharon as the best musician present. He came to Palestine in 1934 and settled in Jerusalem, where a year later a group of notables, including Professor David *Yellin, future second president of Israel Izhak *Ben-Zvi, the renowned educator David Avisar, his great supporter Robert Lachmann, and others, established in his honor a special society for the promotion of Israeli Oriental song. When the first radio station was established in Jerusalem in 1936 by the British Mandatory government, he was selected by composer Karl *Salomon to head a special section of Jewish Oriental music. After the establishment of the state, Aharon founded and directed an Oriental ensemble at Kol Israel. He composed 270 Hebrew songs including synagogal piyyutim, melodies set to poems of famous medieval and contemporary Hebrew poets, such as *Bialik, *Tchernichowsky, *Shimoni, and Sh. *Shalom, as well as about 200 instrumental and vocal Arabic pieces, which represent a landmark in the history of Palestinian and Judeo-Arabic music. In the performance of his Hebrew compositions he appeared together with Western and Oriental musicians; Arabs and Jewish Oriental musicians played and sang his Arabic compositions. Written scores exist for a great portion of his works.


A. Shiloah, in: Y. Ben-Arieh (ed.), Yerushalayim bi-tekufat ha-mandat (2003), 449–72.

[Amnon Shiloah (2nd ed.)]