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Avni, Tzevi


AVNI, TZEVI (1927– ), Israeli composer. Avni was born in Saarbruecken, Germany, and immigrated to Eretz Israel in 1935. He studied theory and composition with Paul *Ben-Haim, *Ehrlich, and *Seter and graduated from the Academy of Music in Tel Aviv. From 1962 to 1964 he studied music librarianship in the U.S. and branched into electronic music under Vladimir Ussachewsky. Avni was director of the Central Music Library in Tel Aviv; editor of Guitite, the journal of the "Jeunesses musicales" in Israel; and chairman of the Rubinstein International Piano Contest (1989). He was the recipient of the acum, Engel, and Lieberson Kurstermeier composition prizes, and he was awarded the Israel Prize in 1998.

Avni was appointed professor of musical theory and composition at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem in 1976, a position he held until his retirement. There, he developed an advanced studio for electro-acoustic music. In 1977 he was appointed general secretary of the National Music Council, and in 1978 chairman of the Executive of the Festival of Contemporary Music.

His diversified style ranges from folk-like choral songs, such as Psalms, to the austere contrapuntal texture of the String Quartet Summer Strings. After his studies in the U.S. he turned to large-scale orchestral forms, marked by his powerful Meditation on a Drama, in which he reached a synthesis of influences ranging from Arnold *Schoenberg to Edgar Varese. The same pluralistic tendencies were even more prominent in his Programme Music (1980). In Ecce Homo to an Italian text by Primo Levi for soprano and orchestra, Avni reached an apex of poignant expression. In his more experimental electronic music he retained traditional elements, as in Vocalise, in which the pure soprano sounds of the singer Pnina (1927–73), Avni's first wife, are electronically worked out and elaborated with synthesized sounds. Avni regularly collaborated with the leading dance troupes in Israel (*Bat-Sheva, Bat-Dor, Kol Demama) for whom he composed both electronic music and instrumental scores.

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