Digital Program Smith Gluzman MultiPiano

“Land of Four Languages” for Two Pianos in Eight Hands and String Orchestra Arie Levanon, who passed away several months ago, was one of the most prominent composers in Israel, straddling the boundaries between classical music and popular music. Born in Romania, he immigrated to Israel in 1951 and became one of the most important composers and arrangers of Hebrew songs. During his magnificent career he wrote some of the best-known Israeli songs, including "Lipa Ha'Eglon", "Zemer Shalosh HaThshuvot" and “Erev Ba” that won the first Israel Song Festival. Levanon also composed various classical works for the concert hall, and was active as an orchestral, choral and opera conductor, including many years as Conductor in Residence of the Israeli Opera. Levanon often incorporated the rich folklore of all ethnic groups in Israel into his works. Some of it he knew from home, while some he discovered when he came to Israel and was exposed to the musical treasures of Mizrahi Jews. His marriage to Ada, who was born in Benghazi, Libya, had deepened his knowledge of the Mizrahi heritage, and increased his desire to create a musical integration of all parts of Israeli culture. “Land of Four Languages” was especially composed for the tours of the Multipiano ensemble abroad, with the aim of highlighting Israel’s multiculturalism to concert attendees worldwide. The work wraps together four folk songs in Hebrew, Arabic, Yiddish and Ladino into one symbolic suite. The first song is “Im HaShachar” (With dawn), based on a Jewish-Yemenite song with lyrics set by Sara LeviTanai. The second song is “Oyfn veg shteyt a boym” (On the road stands a tree) - a melancholic ballad, originally written in Yiddish, about life and its complexity. The third song is a Ladino romance titled “Povereta Muchachica” (Poor maiden) - a quiet and tender lullaby from the treasure trove of Sephardic romances. The fourth song, “Dabke Rafah”, is based on an ArabBedouin melody in the Dabke rhythm, with Hebrew lyrics set by Emanuel Zamir. The piece was first performed in 2012 by the Multipiano ensemble in their South America tour. Subsequently, it was recorded in London for a Naxos Recordings album by the ensemble members with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. In his last years, Levanon felt this piece had a significant meaning to him, as he considered it a symbol of cultural harmony that the state of Israel should strive for. The dramatic turmoil Israeli society has been going through in recent years gives this piece, and the dream it represents, a unique meaning, more relevant than ever. Tomer Lev ca. 10 mins. ARIE LEVANON (1932-2023)