2015 Laureates of Emet Prize
In Category: Culture and Art
In Field: Music (Composition)
Prof. Tzvi Avni was born in 1927 in Saarbrücken, Germany, and at the age of 8 immigrated to Israel with his parents. When he was 14, he was forced to help support the family after his father, a truck driver, was kidnapped and murdered during the Arab riots in the 1930s. An autodidact in music, he taught himself to play whatever instruments were available to him – the accordion, harmonica, mandolin and recorder. At 16, he learned to read music and to play the piano, and was taught music theory by Frank Pelleg and Abel Ehrlich, among others. In 1953 he began his studies in theory and composition with Mordecai Seter at the Academy of Music in Tel Aviv, receiving his degree only at the age of 34, after completing his high school matriculation. Later, he studied electronic music and composition with Aaron Copland and Lucas Foss in the United States .
His more than 120 works, produced over several decades, include orchestral pieces, concerti, chamber music, solo instrumentals, vocal and choral music, and electronic music. For 24 years, he taught composition, theory, contemporary music and electronic music at the Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem, holding the position of Professor since 1976. He was a guest composer at Bar Ilan University for one year, and visiting professor at Northeastern University in Boston for two years.
Over the years, he has served in public positions that include Chair of the Israeli Composers' League, Chair of the World Music Days in Israel and Chair of the Music Committee of the National Council for Culture and Art. Since 1993 he has served as Chair of the Directory Board of the Israel Jeunesses Musicales. He also directed the City Music Conservatory of Lod, served as music consultant to the Bat Dor Dance Company and edited Gitit, a magazine for youth on music in Israel.
His work has earned him numerous prizes, including First Prize at the 1961 Song Festival for the song When I Dance, the Culture Prize of the Saarland, the Engel Prize, the ACUM Prize for lifetime achievement, the Israel Prime Minister's Prize for Israeli composers, and the 2001 Israel Prize for Music.