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Astrith Baltsan (Hebrew: אסתרית בלצן) is an Israeli concert pianist, known for her interpretation of Beethoven, creator of a new concept of classical music concert, famous for her research of Israel's national anthem, Hatikvah.
Baltsan was born in Tel Aviv in the year 1956. She has one sister, Revital Baltsan-Sheskin, and a twin brother called Avikam. Her mother, Dr. Rozelia Ruth Garti (1925–1999) was a pediatrician who came to Israel from Sofia. Bulgaria, in 1949. Astrith was named after her grandmother Ester Baltsan by her father, Hayim Baltsan (1910–2002) who was born in Kishinev, Moldavia, to a Zionist family (Astrith's uncle and Hayim's brother was Yosef Baltsan, a famous Moldavian poet). Hayim Baltsan came to Israel in 1935 and became a leading journalist, founder of the ITIM Israeli news agency, and a linguist, writer of the Webster's New World Hebrew Dictionary
Baltsan began studying music at the age of 8. She won the America Israel Cultural Foundation scholarships and graduated with honors her BA and MA in both piano (with Mindru Katz and Arie Vardi) and the Musicology departments at the Tel Aviv University. She won a scholarship for Graduate studies at Juilliard School for music in New York, and holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in piano from the Manhattan School of Music in New York (1983, with Artur Balsam).
A first prize winner of the Banff Concerto Competition,Canada)1984, and the Concert Artists Guild's competition NYC 1984, she performed at the Norfolk festival of the Yale University, The Tanglewood Festival, the La Gesse Festival in France, the Tutzing Festival in Munich and the Ernen Chamber Festival in Switzerland.
Astrith Baltsan returned to Israel in 1985 to join the faculty of the Rubin Academy of Music at the Tel Aviv University. She was a founder of Musica Nova Ensemble (Excellent Performance For Israeli Music award, 1993),designed the curricula in music for the school of arts in Tel Aviv (Ministry of Education award, 1990). She performed extensively as pianist, editor and music director of concerts series with the Israel Chamber Orchestra (1988–1996)the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (2000–2012),The Israel Festival in Jerusalem (including performances of Beethoven Sonatas in 1987) and the New Israeli Opera. In 1992 She recorded for the Israel Composers' League an album of original Israeli compositions (See PSANTERIN ).
1990 – Astrith Baltsan began to develop her unique concept of a classical concert, which reaches out for larger audiences. Her concert series "Classics in Personal View" (running for more than 25 years) presents performances of classical masterpieces coupled with her unique story-telling and multimedia devices such as video clips, fusion of various musical styles (classical, pop, and jazz) collaborating with guest artists (opera, jazz and folk singers, players, dancers and actors). Her concerts revolutionized the classical music scene and became the largest classical series in Israel. The Herald Tribune referred to the new concept as: “Astrith Baltsan's Classical Piano Show is a fascinating mixture of culture and entertainment touching every aspect of human existence thus making classical music for once both accessible and relevant”.
1996 – Dr.Baltsan and Israeli composer Moshe Zorman, founded the Music Cathedra, a musical college in the Enav cultural center in Tel Aviv. The Music Cathedra is a recognized institute by the Israeli Ministry of Education and has hundreds of students each year.
2005 – Baltsan programs with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra broadcast regularly in Israel TV Channel 1 and in the Radio Classical Channel Kol Hamusica.
2006 – Baltsan was awarded the "Audience Choice" Prize in a competition held by Israel largest newspaper: Yedioth Aharonoth.
2007 – "The Landau best Classical performer prize" by Mifal Hapais
2008 – special excellence in music award from Israel Government and Ministry of Education 2009 – Her research and book + 2 cd on Hatikva – Israel's national anthem was published by the Israeli Ministry of Education, became obligatory for the matriculations exams in Israeli, was translated to English, was critically acclaimed as a "Unique Achievement in Israel's Cultural Life and in the entire Jewish World" (Shimon Peres).
2010–2013 – Released 4 new albums: "Moonlight Sonata" with performances based on Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy. Astrith began a huge project of live recordings of the great piano concertos: Grieg Piano Concerto, Mozart piano concertos no. 1,9, 20, 24, 27; Brahms 1st piano concerto, Rachmaninov 2nd piano concerto - all CDs include live performances coupled with commentaries and analyses by Baltsan.
2013-2014 - Work in progress: CD of the greatest variations set for piano - Beethoven's Diabelli variations and Bach's Goldberg variations.
Baltsan tours extensively as a soloist with orchestras and as "One Woman Show" in Europe, the US, Canada, Central America, Australia and South Africa.
- "Pianist explores Hatikvah's origins". Vicky Tobianah, CJN.
- "Astrith Baltsan". Ronit Seter, Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 1 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive.
- "PROFILE OF ASTRITH BALTSAN, A doctoral dissertation in musicology". Dr. Aviva Stanisltavsky, Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
- "Video of the government ceremony".
- "En el V congreso del KKL México , Astrith Baltsan explica el origen de Hatikva".
- "Hatikva y su historia; ¿qué nos deja Astridh y KKL México para los jóvenes de la comunidad?".
- Official site of Astrith Baltsan and Hatikva show
- Article about Baltsan Hatikva study and show, The Jerusalem Post, April 16, 2010
- Baltsan Hatikva research , The Jerusalem Post, August 8, 2012
- Baltsan - an incomparable phenomenon, Jewish encyclopedia
- Astrith Baltsan on Israeli TV channel 1
- Astrith Baltsan with the Israeli Philharmonic
- Baltsan's Hatikva on 92nd st Y NYC
- Astrith Baltsan on PBS
- Baltsan Hatikva Gala
- CultureBuzz converses with Astrith Baltsan - Israel's Anthem: "HaTikva"
- PSANTERIN 9 CD of Israeli music anthology
- Eine Geschichte der Hoffnung wie Konzertpianistin Astrith Baltsan Jüdische Allgemeine on Baltsan's Hatikva Germany tour, 2013