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Moshe Vilensky

(1910 - 1997)

Moshe Vilensky was an Israeli composer, lyricist and pianist widely considered the pioneer of Israeli song.

Vilensky (born April 17, 1910; died January 2, 1997) was born in Poland, studied music in Warsaw, and immigrated to Eretz Yisrael in 1932. He worked first in theaters as a pianist and composer, and became a prolific composer and lyricist for IDF musical troupes, including as composer for the Nahal choir in the 1950's, for films and for plays. He was in charge of the Israel Radio orchestra, and over the years he wrote more than one thousand songs. Vilensky received the Israel Prize in 1983 for his work in Hebrew music.

Vilensky's music, important for helping create an indigenous popular music style, fuses both Slavic and Eastern strains. It joins a serious nationalism with lighter popular music, and many of Natan Alterman's poems were set to music by Vilensky. Vilensky's songs have been sung by almost all leading Israeli singers, and he is particularly famous for his work with Shoshana Damari. Among his most memorable melodies are the songs Kalaniyot (Anemonies); Hayu Zmanim (In Those Times); and Mul Har Sinai (Opposite Mt. Sinai).

In 2005, Vilenski was voted the 187th-greatest Israeli of all time in a poll by the Israeli news website Ynet.

Sources: The Pedagogic Center, The Department for Jewish Zionist Education, The Jewish Agency for Israel, (c) 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, Director: Dr. Motti Friedman, Webmaster: Esther Carciente