Marc Lavry was a most prolific composer who belonged to an exclusive group of artists who formulated what is known today as Israeli music. His legacy consists of a remarkable number of works – over 400 musical works, many of which have yet to be published and exist in manuscript form only. Lavry wrote a wide variety of compositions from grand operas and symphonies to chamber music and popular songs.
Lavry began his musical studies in Riga and continued at Leipzig Conservatory. He also studied with Alexander Glazunov, Russian composer and music teacher. In 1926 he moved to Berlin and worked for the Theater. From 1929 to 1933 he served as a conductor of the Berlin Municipal Symphony Orchestra. The rise of Nazism caused him to return to Latvia in 1933, where he worked at the Riga Opera. In 1934 he moved to Stockholm, Sweden and in 1935, with his wife, Helena, emigrated to Israel (Palestine at that time). He immediately became enchanted with the country – its landscape, the language and life in the nascent state. He was inspired by its history, poetry and heritage, and many of his compositions were driven by events of the time. In 1936, one year after his arrival he composed the first Israeli symphonic poem Valley (Hebrew: עמק, Emek) – one of his most popular pieces. It represented an Israeli music in the first world tour of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
Lavry's works, including operas, oratorio, and symphonic poems, are influenced by oriental folk music and Jewish cantillation. Together with choreographer Gertrud Kraus, Lavry developed the art of dance and Israel ballet. The oratorio "Song of Songs" (Hebrew: שיר השירים, shir ha-shirim) has been performed many times and Lavry's choral music and arias have become part of the repertoire of choirs and singers in Israel and abroad. Lavry was not only a prolific composer in all spheres of vocal and instrumental music but also a gifted conductor, who performed with all the orchestras in the country during that period.
At mayor Abba Hushi's invitation, Lavry moved to Haifa in 1962 and served as the Haifa Symphonic Orchestra conductor.
He died in Haifa on 24 March, 1967.
- Biography – at the Marc Lavry Heritage Foundation web site.
- List of Works – published by the Marc Lavry Heritage Foundation
- Personal Archive – at the Jewish National Library web site.
- Freedman Catalog – list of works (probably, partial)
- The Jewish Choral Music Database – partial list of choral works
- Israel Music Institute – short biography