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Pianos and Pianists - Editor Ates Orga

10th London International Jewish Music Festival




World premieres

Paul Ben-Haim
First Suite for Piano, Op 20a (1933)

Nimrod Borenstein
First Piano Sonata, Op 21 (2000)

Gila Goldstein

St. Giles, Cripplegate
Monday 12th June, 7:30pm


The First Suite was the last work Paul Ben-Haim composed in Munich before his move to Palestine. It was completed on 23rd August 1933 - between his initial visit to the country in the May of that year (to explore the possibility of settling there, a decision to leave Germany having already been made) and his eventual emigration that November. His intention was to have something with which he could introduce himself as a composer in Palestine, and 'which could be easily performed there'. Youthful experiments aside, it was his first attempt at writing for piano.

There are four movements - the first in the style of a toccata, the second a grotesque-march. The third, Andante - incorporating a popular melody, Ali Be'er, by Sarah Levy-Tanai, a famous Yemenite musician and dancer of the day - is an early manifestation of a quotationary genre that was to later become especially associated with Ben-Haim. He probably heard this tune during his first visit to Palestine. Influenced by Bartók and Prokofiev, the last movement is energetic and primitively percussive.

Ben-Haim himself played the First Suite 'live' in a Palestine Broadcasting Service (PBS) studio broadcast, 8th December 1938.


Nimrod Borenstein's First Piano Sonata was written specially for Gila Goldstein. 'For many years,' he says, 'I've felt the need to to pursue the tradition of the past great composers - from Bach to Haydn, Mozart to Beethoven; later Brahms and Schumann, in the twentieth century Prokofiev and Messiaen - and write a large-scale piano work. During the past decade I have completed many pieces of chamber music with prominent piano parts.' The Sonata is in three movements - a Moderato (opening with an ascending theme in the right hand the developing momentum of which gives rise to two passionate ideas) and vigorously virtuosic finale enclosing a central more mysterious scenario characterised by slow-changing sonorities at the extreme registers of the instrument.

Nimrod Borenstein was born in Israel in 1969, moved to France aged three, and has worked in London for the last ten years. A postgraduate from both the Royal College of Music (violin) and the Royal Academy of Music (composition), his awards include the Mosco Carner Prize, the Frederick Corder Composition Prize, the Arthur Hinton Memorial Prize and the Oliveria Prescott Prize. He was the Leverhulme Trust Composition Fellow at the RAM for 1995-96, and is a Laureate of the Cziffra Foundation in France.

Gila Goldstein holds a Master of Music from the Manhattan School of Music where she studied with Nina Svetlanova; and a Bachelor of Music from the S Rubin Academy of Music at Tel-Aviv University where her teacher was Victor Derevianko. During her studies in Israel she received annual scholarships from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation. A Board member of the American Liszt Society and Founder-President of its New York Chapter, her first CD, featuring Paul Ben-Haim, is scheduled for release next January on the Centaur label.



Want to know more about
Paul Ben-Haim
and music in Palestine?

then don't miss

Jehoash Hirshberg

Professor of Musicology at the University of Jerusalem

Paul Ben-Haim: His Life and Works

Israeli Music Publications, Jerusalem 1990
ISBN 965 259 002 9


Music in the Jewish Community of Palestine 1880-1948:
A Social History

Oxford University Press, Oxford 1995
Clarendon Paperbacks, Oxford 1996
ISBN 0 19 816651 6

required reading




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