(Photo by Katy Schwartzman)
Born in Tel–Aviv, January 1936, composer Ami Maayani is second generation of the founders and builders of Tel–Aviv City. Graduated from the Academy of Music in Jerusalem as a violinist and violist (1953). He pursued studies in Composition under the tutorship of Paul Ben–Haim and Conducting with Eitan Lustig (1956 – 1960). After three years of military service in the Israeli Defence Force, he continued his academic studies at the Technion – the Israeli Institute of Technology in architecture, and graduated with a B.Arch. in 1960.
During the years 1961–1962; 1964 – 1965 he furthered his studies in New York City, at Columbia University in Urban Planning, and at the Electro–Acoustic Music Center with Professor Vladimir Ussachevsky.
While practicing architecture, being involved in site planning of some major projects in Israel, and designing public buildings and dwellings, he studied Philosophy at the Tel – Aviv University, graduating with an M.A. in 1974. The subject of his thesis was the
'Philosophy of Music - studies in the Aesthetic Writings of Hegel, Schopenhauer, Wagner and Nietzsche'.
Maayani is the founder and conductor of the Israel National Youth Orchestra, the Tel – Aviv Youth Orchestra, the Haifa Youth
Orchestra and the Technion Symphony Orchestra.
During the years 1970 – 1973 and 1976 – 1980 he was the chairman of the Israel Composers' League, chairing the Israeli Section of the ISCM.
For those who are interested, here is a link to a historical radio recording from Kol Israel of a live concert, August 1955 at Jerusalem`s YMCA. one of the only recordings left of the legendary pianist Mordehay Simoni. Winner of the first Arthur Rubinstein Competition at the age 22. Ami Maayani is conducting the Israeli National Youth Orchestra ("Gadna").
The years 1975 – 1980 saw Maayani as assistant director of the Rubin Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem, serving also as a member of the High Council of Culture and Arts. In 1984 he joined the faculty of the Samuel Rubin Israel Academy of Music at the Tel–Aviv University, today the Buchmann – Mehta School of Music, as a Professor of Composition and Conducting. He headed the Academy between the years 1993 – 1998, and 2000 – 2004, the year of his retirement. Maayani designed and supervised the building of the Clairmont Concert Hall at the Academy, both architecturally and acoustically.
During the years in which Maayani had been heading the Tel – Aviv Academy of Music, he advanced the Symphony Orchestra
and promoted the Vocal Deaprtment. Among the major projects and performances with the orchestra which he conducted were many symphonies
from the core repertoire (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Bruckner, Mahler, Bartók, Hindemith and Saint – Saëns' Third Symphony – the first performance in Israel with a pipe organ), and full productions, supervised and conducted by him, of the opera 'Saul and David' by Carl Nielsen (Israeli premiere and the first performance ever outside Scandinavia) and Bizet's 'Carmen'.
'Saul and David' by Carl Nielsen
the Chorus of the Judean soldiers and women greeting David after his victory over the Palestinians.
Conductor and musical director - Ami Maayani
Director and Designer - Micha Hendel
| 'Saul and David' by Carl Nielsen
the coronation of David by the prophet Samuel. On the right, Michal bat – Shaul and on the left, Saul
David sings and plays the harp for King Saul,
with Michal by his side
Maayani was a guest lecturer in leading American universities and Music Schools, and at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China, from 2004 – 2005. Although music always come first for Maayani, he was practicing architect for over ten years. Simultaneously he started composing
in 1959 and has ever
since worked on his ever growing catalogue of compositions uninterruptedly.
He has written in practically every genre, every instrument and instrumental combination. Although his catalogue demonstrates a partiality towards the harp, and his first major composition is a concerto for harp and orchestra (1960, premiered in 1963 in Holland) which was chosen as the obligatory work of the Israel International Harp Contests in 1965 and 2003, and again at the International Harp Contest in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1969, his works include an opera, four symphonies, Ballet music, two song cycles for voice and orchestra, eleven concerti for a solo instrument and orchestra, works for symphony orchestra, chamber music of all kinds, solo compositions for various instruments and electro – acoustic music.
Numerous are the prizes and awards his oeuvre has brought him; among them the 'Engel' prize of the Tel–Aviv municipality in 1963; the prize of the education and culture ministry in 1964; the 'Casino de Divonne' prize, Paris 1967; the IBA (Israeli Broadcasting Authority) prize for the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the state of Israel, for his song cycle 'Jüdische Lieder' in 1973; ACUM (Society of Authors, Composers and Music publishers in Israel) prize in 1974; and an ACUM life achievement award in 1994; 1st prize for his 'Hebrew Requiem' – Symphony no. 3 in the International Holocaust Competition, held by the Hecht Foundation, Haifa, 1978 and Landau prize for the arts of the 'Payis' (the state lottery in Israel) for his life works in 2001.
Maayani conducts the Students Orchestra of the Samuel Rubin Israel Academy of Music
at the Clairmont Hall designed by him
(Photo by Tel – Aviv University Press
Maayani's music has been performed extensively in Israel, Eastern and Western Europe, USA, North and South America, China, Japan and Korea. His music represented Israel in the European and South American tours of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under Maestro Zubin Mehta. Maayani's composition 'Qumran' – Symphonic metaphor was the first Israeli composition work to be performed in Germany post World War II (Berlin 1974). The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra commissioned from Maayani the 'Mediterranean Scherzo' for its European tour as the representative Israeli work, 1983. This work was chosen by Maestro Zubin Mehta for the South American tour of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra in 2006.
Maayani sees himself as the successor of his master teacher – Paul Ben Haim (1897 – 1984), the founder of the Israel Mediterranean School, and considers his own contribution to the contemporary Israeli and Jewish music as Eastern Mediterranean. He based his music on biblical cantillations and Jewish traditions, emphasizes versions of the Ashkenazi and Sephardic liturgy, setting them into the perspective of the Baroque and Classical music forms blended with Impressionistic harmonies and colors of the Mediterranean trends (French Impressionistic composers). See the Twelve Fantasies for Piano in Prelude and Fugue form, based on Medieval modes and Ethnic scales – homage to J.S.Bach commemorating the 250th anniversary of his death, 2002. His vocal music is closely associated with the Old Hebrew language, since the time of the Old Testament through the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Jewish Poets of the 'Golden Age' of Spain and the Modern Hebrew, revived in Israel more than a hundred years ago. His music includes the Yiddish and Ladino languages used by Jews in the Diaspora.
Maayani won international recognition for his entire music written for the harp, which includes three concerti, chamber music for various ensembles and harp, thirty six songs for voice and harp, and solo harp compositions. Most of his harp music was commissioned by famous harpists such as Nicanor Zabaleta, Kathleen Alister, Lucile Lawrence, Edna Philips, Susanna Mildonian and Naoko Yoshino. His music was chosen as set pieces of various International Competitions in Israel, France, Switzerland, Russia, USA and Japan. Major performances of Maayani's music took place in different cities: 'Mizmorim' – the Songs of Thanksgiving and Praise, in New York with the American Symphony under Julius Rudel (1965); the first harp concerto in Utrecht, Holland, with Susanna Mildonian as soloist, the Utrecht Symphony Orchestra under Paul Huperts (1963); the Concerto for Percussion and Eight Wind Instruments in Paris performed by Ars Nova Ensemble conducted by Edgar Cosma (1967); Deux Madrigaux with Chantal Mathieu and the Paris Woodwind Quintet (1974); 'Concerto Symphonique' for Harp and Orchestra, Heidelberg, with Florence Sitruk as soloist, with the Heidelberg Philharmonic Orchestra under Romely Pfund (2002), 'Concerto for Piano and Orchestra', Beijing, China, Albert Mamriev – piano, the Beijing Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Tan Li Hua.
Most of Maayani's music has been recorded and released in sixteen CDs by FONS Music Foundation. Maayani was the first Israeli composer whose music was heard in Russia, China, South Korea, Peru and post Second World War Germany.
Maayani is also the author of a monumental and exhaustive work on Richard Wagner (Monography), and 'On Music from ancient days and the Music in Plato's Dialogues', the only major contributions to these subjects to appear in the Hebrew language, and a complete Autobiography in preparation.
Tel: +972 3 6047962
Fax: +972 3 6040735
Mail address: 8 Nahum Str. Tel-Aviv 63503
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