Yitzhak Edel

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Yitzhak Edel was born in Warsaw in 1896 to a Hassidic family. His grandfather, a Hassidic scholar, took responsibility for his education, and when Edel’s parents moved to Rovna, he came to live with his grandfather. In his grandfather’s house, Edel received a Jewish education, but was also exposed to music, while participating in singing gatherings hosted by his grandfather. When he was still a child, Edel received a violin. He taught himself to play it, practicing the songs he used to sing at the gatherings. The writer Y. Trunk heard Edel, and took him to the house of writer Y.L. Peretz, to play for him and for a famous violinist from Warsaw who was impressed by his playing. Trunk bought young Edel a new violin, and he started receiving lessons from the violinist in Peretz’s house. His grandfather did not approve of his new path as a musician, but ultimately gave in. Upon his grandfather’s death, young Edel moved to Rovna to live with his parents. As his grandfather, his parents were not approving of his musical life. After a short period in Rovna, Edel, eager to study music seriously in a proper conservatory, decided to move to Kiev. In Kiev, Edel enrolled to the Kiev conservatory. He started with the violin, but got more and more attracted to the fields of theory and composition. Under the pressures of the Bolshevik revolution and WWI, life in Kiev was hard, and Edel had difficulty sustaining himself. Due to his financial difficulties, Edel accepted a music teaching job in an elementary school in 1929, and at the same period he also formed a choir. Though he did not plan and intended it Edel, began his educational career. In 1920, after one year of teaching, Edel moved to Moscow, where he stayed for two years. In Moscow Edel witnessed the persecution of the Hebrew language by the communist regime, especially in the case of Habimah Theater. He also got acquainted with the works of the Society for Jewish folk Music which worked mainly in St. Petersburg. These experiences would later lead him to deal with Jewish nationalistic issues in music and arts. In 1922, Edel came back to Warsaw. From 1922 to1927 he completed his musical studies, studying theory and composition in the Royal Academy of Music, Warsaw's foremost musical institute of the time. Aside of his studies, Edel engaged in both educational work and musical initiatives. He worked in Janosz Korcak orphanage for three years, an influential experience upon his educational thought. Beside Korcak, he taught in Yehudiya - a Zionist school for girls, in TarbutSchool, and formed a choir of the Hashomer Hatsa'ir movment of Warsaw. His main musical activity was establishing The Company for Jewish Music, after the model of the Society for Jewish folk Music. The company held concerts of Jewish music and thus exposed the works of Jewish composers to Warsaw's Jewish community. In 1929, Edel immigrated to Palestine and settled in Tel Aviv. As soon as his first year of life in Israel, Edel got acquainted with important figures of Israel's music and culture life, such as Mordechai Golinkin, Solomon Rosowsky and Prof. David Shor, with whom he worked for a short period, and also H.N. Bialik, for whom he composed several poems. After this period Edel started working in Levinsky Teachers Seminary, where he would stay for 26 years, from 1929 to1965. In the seminary, he formed a choir of 120 girls. The girls in the choir would be replaced every year, but Edel managed to sustain a high level of performance. He also taught in the school next to the seminary, where, as Edel tells, he could conduct his educational researches. Other jobs Edel held in Israel included: music criticism; secretary of the Composers League; teaching in Kibbutzim Seminary, TelAvivAcademy and conservatory; teaching youth in Tel Aviv, and giving courses through mail to young musicians in various Kibbutzim. Relying upon his wide experience in music and education, Edel published books and articles concerning music and musical education in Israel, and formed an educational method. Despite his involvement in Israel's music scene, as a composer Edel stayed a European. He drew deeply on the themes of Jewish music from Eastern Europe, although he combined it with the Eretz-Israeli music he found in Palestine, which was connected to oriental themes. He always stayed connected to western harmony. His music is simple and retains the ideal of communicating with the listener. Edel’s works include vocal (cantatas and songs), chamber and orchestral music. Many of Edel's songs were written due to the lack of songs with Jewish nationalistic themes, and his will to perform this kind of songs with his choir. He first tried to gather songs of Jewish musicians and Hebrew poets. Since the quantity did not suffice him, he composed his own nationalistic songs, based on the bible and Hebrew poetry. Many of which are children songs of Hebrew poets, particularly Bialik. Edel has received several prizes for his works, including the Engel prize and the Milo prize. Yitzhak Edel Died in 1973 in Tel Aviv.