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Amnon Shiloah

SHILOAH, AMNON (1928– ), Israeli musicologist of the history and theory of Arabic music. Born in Argentina to Syrian parents, Shiloah settled in Palestine in 1941. He studied Arabic language and literature at the Hebrew University and musicology at the Sorbonne, where he obtained his doctorate in 1963. Shiloah was appointed senior lecturer at the Hebrew University musicology department in 1969 and was its chairman in the years 1971–74. He became full professor in 1978. He served as a board member of the International Musicological Society (1977–81), and won the Jerusalem Prize for research achievements in the study of Oriental Jewish music (1986). Shiloah was provost of the Rothberg School for overseas students (1992–95), and an honorary member for life at the European Seminar in Ethnomusicology (1995). He won the Grand prix de l'Académie Charles Cros: Litterature musicale for the French translation of his book Music in the World of Islam. Shiloah is one of the most prolific scholars of both Jewish and Arab traditional music.

Shiloah began his career as a musicologist of Israeli art music in the early 1950s, when he published interviews with 13 founding Israeli composers about national identity in their music (published in Massa, 1953). His Massa interviews have often been cited as a pioneer work, and his contribution to Israel Music Institute News (1990) was an influential contribution to the study of Orientalism in Israeli art music. Shiloah's magnum opus, The Theory of Music in Arabic Writings (c. 9001900) (Répertoire international des sources musicales, Henle Verlag, Munich, series B/X, 1979 – a catalogue of manuscripts in libraries of Europe and the U.S.), was the culmination of years of work in European archives. The latter volume of this seminal text (RISM, series B/Xa, 2003, describing manuscripts in Israel, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Russia, and Uzbekistan) was similarly a result of another decade of research. His work was published in Encyclopedia Britannica (1974), Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart (1976, 1994), the Journal of the American Musicological Society (1981), and The New Oxford History of Music (2001) – to cite a few among many publications (e.g., in Cahiers de civilisation medievale, Ethnomusicology, Ariel, Acta Musicologica, Pe'amim, and Yuval). His scholarship on Jewish music was summarized in his Jewish Musical Traditions (1992). Shiloah's work on Arab music culminated also in his Music in the World of Islam: A Socio-Cultural Study (1995; the book also appeared in French, Hebrew, and Arabic).

In the field of ethnomusicology, he established himself as both a pioneer scholar and a leading authority of Arab music and of Jewish traditional music. Shiloah's comprehensive list of publications encompasses over 240 items in four languages (English, French, Hebrew, and Arabic), including 15 books, edited works, records, and articles – a result of 50 years of work in the field of Arabic music, its ethnomusicology, the history of its theory, and its social-cultural history. Shiloah also advanced the fields of Jewish ethnomusicology, especially the study of Jewish-Arab and Sephardi traditions in their countries of origin from Morocco to Iraq, and in Israel. Finally, he has contributed significant writings to the study of Israeli art music.

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