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International Music Resources by Country: Israel

International Music Resources offers an array of online and physical resources both freely available and/or offered by the George F. DeVine Music Library. The information included in these guides may serve as a starting point for the study and research of

Jerusalem, IsraelCitation (1)

Map of Israel

Map of israel

Citation (3)

Garland Encyclopedia of World Music-Israel

Garland Encyclopedia of World Music Cover Art


Listen to Israeli Music

Folksongs from Israel Album Art

The music of Israel Album Art

The music of israel Jewish & Yiddish album art

Pioneers and Exiles Violin Music from Israel Album Art

Facts in Brief

Flag of Israel


Capital: Jerusalem

Official Languages: Hebrew and Arabic

Current Population: 9,289,761

Area: 22,072

Climate: The climate is Mediterranean, with hot, dry summers, when the maximum temperature in Jerusalem is generally between 30°C and 35°C (86°F to 95°F), and mild, rainy winters, with a minimum temperature in the city of about 5°C (41°F). The climate is sub-tropical on the coast but more extreme in the Negev Desert, in the south, and near the shores of the Dead Sea (a lake on the Israeli–Jordanian frontier), where the summer temperature may exceed 50°C (122°F). 

Main Religions:  Judaism and Islam

Citation (2)

Folk and Popular Israeli Music

Folk and Popular Israeli Music

An area of musical creativity originating in Erets-Israel (‘land of Israel’) was Erets-Israeli song, which consists of Hebrew texts set to music with a monophonic texture, usually by identifiable Erets-Israeli composers during the period 1882–1948. Erets-Israeli songs developed alongside other Hebrew songs sung in Erets-Israel up to 1948.

The origins of Hebrew songs coincide with the revival of Hebrew culture in Europe and the beginning of the Zionist movement in the latter half of the 19th century. The Hebrew cultural revival included literature and poetry, just as the Zionist movement brought with it waves of immigration to Erets-Israel.

The majority of songs in Erets-Israel during the era of the first immigration were brought by immigrants. Songs typically expressed a longing for Erets-Israel along with the hope for rebirth in the homeland. Many of the song lyrics were written in Hebrew by poets who were part of the ḤibatṢion (love of Zion) and Hatḥiyah (revival) movements, but who, for the most part, had never visited Erets-Israel. The majority of song melodies were borrowed from Hasidic and Yiddish sources, and from Russian, Romanian and Polish folk and popular songs.

Most melodies were in minor keys and in duple metre, at times in slow march-like tempos, with typical Hebrew syllabic emphasis on the penultimate syllable.

Four distinct song types characterize these eras. First, Ḥibat Tzion songs continued from the previous era, becoming part of the second immigration's repertory. The second category includes songs composed within Erets-Israeli educational institutions. The third category includes songs with Arab melodies that were widespread in Erets-Israel to which Hebrew texts were fitted, e.g. Hachmisimi, Bein Nehar Prat, Yad ‘Anugah and Ani Re'itiha. The fourth category includes songs with melodies originating in Eastern European Hasidic culture. Such texts include short verses from the Bible or from prayer books.

Citation (4)

Composer Highlight: Paul Ben-Haim

Composer Paul Ben-Haim

Paul Ben-Haim

 Israeli composer of German birth. After serving in World War I, he graduated from the Munich Academy of Music (1920) where his teachers included Friedrich Klose (composition). He went on to hold the posts of choral director and vocal coach at the Bayerisches Staatstheater under Bruno Walter and, in 1924, became Kapellmeister of the Augsburg Opera. He was also active as a pianist. His early compositions, written during these years, include the String Trio (1927), which demonstrates his fondness for stylistic pluralism in its juxtaposition of extreme chromaticism and jazzy rhythms, and works that display the influence of Orientalism (Pan,1931) and neo-classicism (Concerto grosso, 1931). His friendship with the Jewish composer and organist Heinrich Schalit (1886–1976) led to the composition of a number of a cappella motets on biblical texts, culminating in a setting of Psalm cxxvi ‘Wenn der Herr’ (1929) that was well received at the Nürnberger Sängerwoche (1931).

Brought to prominence through commissions and frequent performances of his works by artists such as Menuhin, Pressler, Bernstein, Heifetz, Wiesel and others, Ben-Haim became internationally known soon after 1945. His flowing melodies, idiomatic instrumental writing and rich orchestration made his music appealing to audiences all over the world. Although he held the music of Bach in highest esteem, he was also strongly influenced by the harmonic and melodic styles of Debussy, Ravel and Falla and the dramatic and symbolic expression of Mahler. While most of his music is tonal with modal embellishment, he used dodecaphony to depict strong images, such as the dry bones in the Vision of a Prophet (1959). His honours included the 1957 Israel Prize for the orchestral work The Sweet Psalmist of Israel (1953). In 1972, after attending an honorary concert organized by the City of Munich, he was severely injured in a car accident that left him partially paralysed; this condition substantially limited his activities during the last 12 years of his life.

Citation: Hirshberg, J.  Ben-Haim [Frankenburger], Paul. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 7 Dec. 2021, from


(1): "The Holy City" by "Graham

(2): Location, Climate, Language, Religion, Flag, Capital (Israel), in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Retrieved 02 December 2021 from


(4): Hirshberg, J., Shahar, N., Seroussi, E., & Shiloah, A.  Israel. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 7 Dec. 2021, from