A graduate of Cambridge University, Manor became Israel’s most prolific songwriter, composing an estimated 1,200 songs and translating another 600 into Hebrew. He also translated many Broadway musicals into Hebrew for local productions, including “Hair,” “Le Miserables,” and “Chicago.” He also translated Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and “Twelfth Night,” hosted television and radio programs and wrote children’s books.
Early in his career, Manor often wrote about peace and tranquility and, in 1968, he penned “Next Year” to express the joy of expectation following Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War. Joy turned to sorrow, however, when he lost a brother in the War of Attrition, prompting Manor to write“My Younger Brother Yehuda” in his memory.
One of Manor’s most famous songs was“I Have No Other Country” (Ein Li Eretz Aheret), which expressed the bitter divisions that emerged in Israel during the Lebanon War. “I have no other country/ if even my land is ablaze,” he wrote. “Only a Hebrew word penetrates my soul/ in an aching body/ in a hungry heart - here is my home.” Manor wrote in liner notes to a greatest hits anthology that the song “was adopted by everyone as a song of pain.”
Perhaps his most well-known song outside Israel is “Bashana Haba'ah.” Another, “Aba-ni-bi,” won an international following for Manor when it was chosen as the best song in the 1978 Eurovision contest.
In 1998, Manor was awarded the Israel Prize for his unique contribution to Israeli song writing. The selection committee wrote, “Ehud Manor represents contemporary reality. For the past 30 years, he has expressed our mood through the hundreds of songs he has written, together with the finest composers.”
Manor died of a heart attack at age 64 on April 12, 2005. He was eulogized by Yediot Achronot as “a composer of dreams, a poet of hope.”
Manor, who once said “my family is my muse,” is survived by his wife of 40 years, singer Ofra Fuchs, and three adult children.
Sources: JTA, (April 15, 2005); Jerusalem Post, (April 14, 2005); Haaretz, (April 13, 2005)