Boscovitch, Alexander Uriyah

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BOSCOVITCH, ALEXANDER URIYAH (1907–1964), Israeli composer and music critic. Born in Klausenburg (Cluj), Romania, Boscovitch studied piano with Hevesi Piroska and then, in Vienna with Victor Ebenstein and in Paris with Paul *Dukas (composition) and Lazar *Levi (piano). He became conductor of the Klausenburg Opera orchestra, and of a Jewish symphony orchestra (named after Karl Goldmark) which he founded. In 1938 he was invited to Palestine for the first performance of his Sharsheret ha-Zahav ("The Golden Chain"), an orchestral suite based on East European Jewish melodies. He decided to remain in the country and became one of the pioneers of Israeli music – songs, chamber music, music for the theater, concertos, and symphonies. Boscovitch was one of the founders of the Tel Aviv Academy of Music (1944), where he taught theory and composition. In 1956 he became music critic of the daily Haaretz. His ideology involved the expectation that an Israeli composer would avoid any personal Romantic expression and derive inspiration from the landscape and the Hebrew language, as well as from Arabic. In the early 1940s he composed four songs for the Yemenite singer Bracha *Zephira and made arrangements of Arabic instrumental music for the dancer Yardena *Cohen. In 1942 he composed a violin concerto and the following year an oboe concerto (revised version 1950) which is typical of his attempt to achieve a synthesis of oriental and western forms. His Semitic Suite (1946), in two slightly different versions – one for orchestra and one for piano solo – was an experiment in transferring the tone color of Oriental instruments to western ones. The composition drew from the folk music of both the Arabs and the Jews in Ereẓ Israel at that time. In 1962 his cantata Bat Yisrael ("Daughter of Israel"), based on a text by the poet Bialik, marked the beginning of his preoccupation with the relationship between music and the Hebrew language, which is evident in Concerto di Camera (1962) for violin and ten other instruments. His last complete composition, Adayim, drew its inspiration from Exodus 15. This work for flute and orchestra utilizes the rhythmic and poetic characteristics of the Hebrew text and the liturgy of Yemenite Jews. Boscovitch also wrote theater music and songs; his most famous song is Dudu (1948) to lyrics by Ḥayim *Hefer. His writings include Kelet es Nyugat Kozott ("The Problems of Jewish Music," 1937) and Ba'ayat ha-Musikah ha-Mekorit be-Yisrael' ("The Problem of Original Music in Israel," 1953). His personal archive is at the jnul Music Department.

add. bibliography:

Grove online; mgg2; W.Y. Elias, Alexander Uriyah Boskovitch (1969); J. Hirshberg and H. Shmueli, Alexander Uriyah Boskovitch, Ḥayav, Yetzirato, Haguto ("Life, Works, Thought," 1995).

[Herzl Shmueli /

Gila Flam and

Israela Stein (2nd ed.)]