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Tsippi Fleischer

(1946 – )

Tsippi Fleischer (Tsipporah Dolgopolsky) is an Israeli composer and music education specialist, one of the Israeli women composers well-known outside the country

Fleischer earned multiple bachelor's degrees (ranging from music theory to Arabic language, literature, and history), an M.A. in music education (NYU, 1975), and a Ph.D. in musicology (Bar-Ilan University, 1995). Initially interested in popular Israeli songs, especially the Hebrew canonic folk songs by composers such as Alexander *Argov, Moshe *Wilensky, and Naomi *Shemer, by the early 2000s, she had become an established composer of Western music (or, some would argue, composer of her unique version of World music) with a distinguished Middle-Eastern quality. She also revisited her research into the history of Israeli song in the past 120 years. From the late 1960s, she taught at the Lewinsky Teachers College. Her book for music teachers, Harmonization of Songs (Hebrew), appeared in 2005.

From the 1980s, she was committed to the ideology of Israeli style, first established by the founders of Israeli art music, such as Paul *Ben-Haim and Mordecai Seter. A perspective best conceptualized by Alexander Boskovich, who held that an Israeli style can evolve only through the synthesis of ethnic local traits of Jewish and Arab music with techniques of Western classical music. In a 1986 interview, she argued that her music is equally balanced between these traditions: not swaying toward the Western, with the Middle-Eastern source only an exotic flavor; nor toward the Eastern sources, when a work might not be fully artistic in Western terms.

Fleischer is a prolific composer. Her list of works includes her often-performed song-set Girl-Butterfly-Girl (1977, revised several times until the early 2000s); the cantata Like Two Branches (1989); the Oratorio 1492–1992; the collection Ethnic Silhouettes that includes four multimedia plays (1993–95, in Biblical Hebrew, Ugaritic, Old Babylonian, and Coptic); a collection of original miniatures; five short symphonies (1995–2004, illustrative symphonic poems and an ethnic collage); and two chamber operas, Medea (1995) and Cain & Abel (2002). Her music is inspired by the improvisatory quality of Arab oral traditions in music, and some of her melodies, both Arabic and Israeli, are compelling, as in her short toccata for strings, Strings – Bow and Arrow (1995).

Fleischer's works, especially of the 1980s and 1990s, synthesizing Arabic and Hebrew texts and musical modes with Western classical instrumentation, earned her a unique name as an established Middle-Eastern woman composer. Indeed, most of her earlier works reflected a local-regional, non-religious identity, smoothly mixing Mizrahi-Jewish and Arab elements, with a marked preference to the surrounding Arab character. She is perhaps the only Western woman composer in the Middle East whose music appeared on some sixteen commercial CDs, international Israeli.

In 2004, she wrote for the first time an explicitly Jewish work: the Fifth Symphony: Israeli-Jewish Collage for tape and accompanying orchestra, based on some of the most obvious Jewish identity markers – the shofar calls and the Kol Nidrei prayer.


Robert Fleisher, Twenty Israeli Composers, (Detroit: Wayne, 1997), p. 208–16.

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.