Paul Ben-Haim

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Paul Ben-Haim
Paul Frankenburger

(1897-07-05)July 5, 1897
DiedJanuary 14, 1984(1984-01-14) (aged 86)

Paul Ben-Haim (or Paul Ben-Chaim, Hebrew: פאול בן חיים) (5 July 1897 – 14 January 1984) was an Israeli composer. Born Paul Frankenburger in Munich, Germany, he studied composition with Friedrich Klose and he was assistant conductor to Bruno Walter and Hans Knappertsbusch from 1920 to 1924. He served as conductor at Augsburg from 1924 to 1931, and afterwards devoted himself to teaching and composition, including teaching at the Shulamit Conservatory in Tel Aviv, Israel.[1]

Paul Ben-Haim and his wife, Heli, with the writer Max Brod

Ben-Haim emigrated to the then British Mandate of Palestine in 1933 and lived in Tel Aviv, near Zina Dizengoff Square.[2] He Hebraized his name, becoming an Israeli citizen upon that nation's independence in 1948. He composed chamber music, works for choir, orchestra and solo instruments, and songs. He championed a specifically Jewish national music: his own compositions are in a late Romantic vein with Middle Eastern overtones, somewhat similar to Ernest Bloch.[3]

His students include Eliahu Inbal, Henri Lazarof, Ben-Zion Orgad, Ami Maayani, Shulamit Ran, Miriam Shatal, Rami Bar-Niv and Noam Sheriff. [See: List of music students by teacher: A to B#Paul Ben-Haim.] Ben-Haim won the Israel Prize for music in 1957.[4]

The archive of Ben-Haim is preserved in the National Library of Israel.[5]

Works, editions and recordings[edit]

Selected recordings:

  • Cello Concerto (1962), Raphael Wallfisch (cello), BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Łukasz Borowicz. CPO.
  • Clarinet Quintet, Two Landscapes, Canzonetta, Improvisation and Dance, Piano Quartet. ARC Ensemble. Chandos
  • Concerto for Strings, Pastoral Variée for clarinet, harp and string orchestra Op 31b (1945 arr. 1962), Three Songs without Words (1952), Music for Strings (1955/56). Talia Or (soprano), Bettins Aust (clarinet), Christine Steinbrecher (harp), Bayerische Kammerphilharmonie, conductor Gabriel Adorján. AVI-MUSIC 8553497 (2022)[6]
  • Kabbalat Shabbat (Welcoming the Sabbath, evening service) Soloists, Orchester Jakobsplatz München, Grossmann NEOS.
  • Melodies, Arion ARN 68643. Varda Kotler, Jeff Cohen, Philippe Bary and Alexis Galpérine[7]
  • Sacred services from Israel. Marc Lavry, Yehezkel Braun, Paul Ben-Haim Kabbalat Shabbat. Naxos. Milken Archive[8]
  • Symphony No. 1 (1940), Fanfare to Israel (1950), Symphonic Metamorphoses on a Bach Chorale (1968). NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover Israel Yinon. CPO
  • Symphony No. 2 (1945), Concerto Grosso (1931). NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover Israel Yinon. CPO
  • Symphony No. 2 (1945), Concerto for Strings (1947). Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (Kenneth Alwyn) Stradivari/Jerusalem Records SCD 8003

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jehoash Hirshberg. 'Ben-Haim [Frankenburger], Paul', in Grove Music Online (2001)
  2. ^ Jehoash Hirshberg. Paul Ben-Haim: His Life and Works (1990)
  3. ^ P. Gradenwitz: The Music of Israel (Portland, OR, 1996)
  4. ^ "Israel Prize Official Site - Recipients in 1957 (in Hebrew)".
  5. ^ "ben haim בקטלוג הספרייה הלאומית" (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2023-08-19.
  6. ^ Paul Ben-Haim, 'Music for Strings', reviewed at MusicWeb International
  7. ^ "Paul Ben-Haim - Discographie".
  8. ^ "Kabbalat shabbat".

Further reading[edit]

  • Hadassah Guttmann, The Music of Paul Ben-Haim: A Performance Guide London: Scarecrow Press, 1992
  • Jehoash Hirshberg, Paul Ben-Haim: His Life and Works. Second English edition, edited by Paul Landau. Tel Aviv: Israel Music Institute, 2010.
  • Ronit Seter. "Hirshberg's Ben-Haim: Three Decades Later" (critical review of the second edition Hirshberg's Ben-Haim). Min-Ad: Israel Studies in Musicology Online, 9 (2011), pp. 97-113. [1] (See also Jehoash Hirshberg's response)
  • Liran Gurkiewicz, Paul Ben-Haim: The Oratorio Joram and the Jewish Identity of a Composer Min-Ad: Israel Studies in Musicology Online, 11/2 (2013), [2]
  • Ronit Seter. “Israelism: Nationalism, Orientalism, and the Israeli Five”. Musical Quarterly 97.2 (2014), pp. 238–308.
  • Ronit Seter. "Paul Ben-Haim". In "Israeli Art Music", Oxford Bibliographies Online (accessed 24 Nov. 2023).
  • Paul Ben-Haim's discography
  • The American Symphony Orchestra led by Leon Botstein performed the US Premiere of Ben-Haim's Symphony No. 2 (1945) on May 31, 2009 at Avery Fisher Hall, NYC [3]