Wilensky, Moshe

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WILENSKY, MOSHE (1910–1997) Israeli composer. Born in Warsaw, he studied composition and conducting at the state conservatory of Warsaw. After graduating there he left in 1932 for Israel. He was pianist at the "Matate" satiric theater and composed music for songs, as well as background music for documentary movies made by the Carmel studios. At the Matate Theater Wilensky discovered Yemenite songs through the repertoire of singer Esther Gamlieli. When the Li-la-lo Theater was created in 1944, Wilensky was offered the job of "house composer" and met there singer Shoshana *Damari, who was to become the principal performer of his songs. During the War of Independence, Wilensky and Damari toured army posts and performed for soldiers. In 1949, they left for a series of performances in the United States where they remained almost a year. Wilensky wrote the melodies for many of the songs of the Chizbatron, the first of the army bands created during the War of Independence. From the 1950s onwards Wilensky set to music hundreds of songs for singers and army bands. He also wrote the scores for a number of musical comedies such as Shulamit (1957), Fishka, and Same'aḥ ba-Namal.

Wilensky was among the founders of the Artists and Composer's Union. In 1961 he became director of the light music division of Kol Israel, a position he held for many years.

Many of his songs are considered to be among the best of Hebrew music, and Wilensky was awarded the Israel Prize in 1983. He composed songs to the texts of many famous Israeli poets, and his songs appear in hundreds of booklets and discs. Among the books containing selections of his songs are Tamid Kalaniyyot Tifraḥna ("Poppies Will Always Bloom," 1978) Al ha-Kevish Yare'aḥ ("On the Road Is a Moon," 1982), Moshe Wilensky, Zer Kalaniyyot ("Moshe Wilensky, a Bouquet of Poppies," 1980).

[Nathan Shahar (2nd ed.)]