Varda kotler - Ben Haim
Prof. Jehoash Hirshberg about Paul Ben-Haim
Musicology Department Hebrew University, Jerusalem


Varda Kotler performs Paul Ben-Haim
PAUL BEN-HAIM (1897-1984) GERMAN AND HEBREW LIEDER

Paul Ben-Haim was born as Paul Frankenburger in Munich on 5 July 1897. His father, Heinrich, was a highly esteemed lawyer and honorary professor of law. He was also Deputy President of the Munich Jewish Community. Paul's mother, Anna, was a fine amateur pianist. Paul's highly cohesive family included three sons and two daughters. Having learned the violin from a young age, Paul soon turned to piano as his cherished instrument. After a traumatic service in World War I (when his older brother was killed) Paul graduated from the prestigious Munich Music Academy as pianist conductor, and composer.

In the course of his studies at the Gymnasium Paul was especially interested in German and Latin literature and poetry, and he became well-read in old and contemporary German poetry, as well as in the enormous repertory of the German Lied. He was especially influenced by Richard Strauss (1864-1949), the adored Munich composer of that time, as well as by the exquisite songs by Debussy and Ravel. Paul started to compose Lieder at the age of 15 for family gatherings, where he performed them with his sister Dora so that he was able to try out each Lied immediately.

1 Two Hofmannsthal Lieder (1915)

In 1915, having composed more than 40 Lieder that remained in manuscript form, Paul Frankenburger arranged for two cycles, including T Lieder altogether, to poems by Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874-1929), to be published in print.

Vorfrühling is a breathless depiction of the flow of the powerful breeze predicting early spring. The Lied is through-composed, with the music changing for each of the six stanzas, including a repeat of the first stanza before a coda. The rich harmony is based on the augmented triad, with sudden chromatic shifts, an excited vocal line, and a fully contrapuntal part for the piano.

Dein Antliz continues the long tradition of German romantic monologues of the lover to the enigmatic features of his beloved, slowly building an enormous tension from the introverted opening to the powerful emotional outburst at the end. The voice and the piano move in three part imitative counterpoint and extreme chromaticism.

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Prof. Jehoash Hirshberg wrote the books:
"Paul Ben-Haim his life and works"
(Israeli Music Publications Ltd)
and "Music in the Jewish community
of Palestine 1880-1948
(Oxford University Press 1995)










Varda Kotler