Tzvi Avni was born in Saarbrücken, Germany in 1927 and immigrated to Mandatory Palestine in 1935.
He studied at the Music Academy in Tel Aviv under Abel Ehrlich and Mordecai Seter, under whose direction he graduated from the Tel Aviv Music Academy in 1958. He also studied with composer Paul Ben-Haim and pianist Frank Peleg.
In 1962, upon recommendation from Edgar Varese, he began to study electronic music at Columbia University under the direction of Vladimir Ussachevsky. In the summer of 1963 he attended the Tanglewood Music Center, studying composition with Aaron Copland and Lukas Foss.
From 1971 to 2015 he was a professor of theory and composition at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, and founded the Academy's electronic music studio.
In 2001 he was awarded the Israel Prize, the greatest honor bestowed upon an artist in Israel. He received the EMET prize in 2015 and the Israel Prime Minister Prize for Composers in 1998. In 1986 he was awarded the ACUM Lifetime Achievement Award. Two of his compositions, Meditations on a Drama and Epitaph, have won ACUM prizes. In 1973 he was awarded the Tel Aviv Municipality's Engel Prize for his composition Holiday Metaphors. He was also awarded the Culture Prize of the Saarland in 1998 and the Küstermeier Prize by the Israeli-German Friendship Association.
His works are frequently performed in Israel and around the world. Many of them are available on CDs and are published and available at IMI, the Israel Music Institute: www.imi.org.il
What people are saying...
Tzvi Avni is a remarkably communicative composer whose works deserve to be more widely performed and recorded. I first learned of him in 1966 from an LP recording of his Vocalise, for soprano and electronic synthesizer—a piece that is full of mystery and drama. More recently, I have been listening, repeatedly and with pleasure and admiration, to his works for piano solo (some rather neo-classic in style), for chorus with a few instruments (Apropos Klee), and for symphony orchestra (Ship of Hours). I am astonished by Avni's expressive range—each movement has its own 'tone of voice'—yet also by the consistent professionalism of his writing for voices and for instruments. Everything 'sounds'; The music is intensely gestural, with a strong melodic core.
Ralph P. Locke, emeritus professor of musicology, Eastman School of Music (University of Rochester)
Through every stage of his career, Tzvi Avni's music has always been certain of its goal and successful in achieving it. He has digested both modernist and romantic impulses to arrive at a personal style marked by formal surety, melodic beauty, and conceptual integrity. His delicate and versatile harmonic language achieves a remarkable freshness that is only enhanced by its grounding in tradition, while his resourceful timbral inventiveness—where appropriate, even ravishing opulence—contributes to the immediate attractiveness of his unique sound world, which richly repays the repeated listening it invites.
Paul Covey, composer and musicologist, University of Maryland
One of the most prominent voices of Israeli culture during the past six decades, Tzvi Avni is one of the most prolific—and most often performed—among Israeli composers. Avni’s song Saeni be-mahol became the musical basis for an internationally known folk dance, and his syncopated, lively Mizmorei Tehilim for chorus has gained multiple performances across the decades. His Prayer was featured at events celebrating Jewish culture, and his award-winning Meditations on Drama exhibits his exuberant, experimental style. The Ship of Hours and the intimate, personal From My Diary reveal Avni’s melodic beauty, the captivating timbres of his programmatic works, and that rare attribute: elegant sophistication.
Ronit Seter, Jewish Music Research Centre, Jerusalem / Fairfax, VA, USA