Tal, Joseph

Israeli composer. Born Joseph Gruenthal 18 April 1910 in Penne (or Pinne) that was eastern Germany near Poznan, Poland. Known as Israel’s foremost pioneer of electronic music. He studied piano and composition at the Berlin Hochschule fur Musik from 1928-1930 with Hindemith, and twelve-tone technique with Heinz Tiessen. He worked as a pianist, but retrained as a photographer to get access to a visa to leave for Israel in 1934. He worked in Haifa and then joined Kibbutz Kesher, then moved to Jerusalem to teach piano and composition at the conservatory. From 1948 -1952, he was director of the Israel Academy of Music and 1965-1971 head of musicology at Hebrew University. Tal’s works include six symphonies, operas, piano concertos, a viola concerto, harpsichord concerto with tape, woodwind quintet, 3 string quartets and an oboe sonata. Philip Bohlman, in his book, The Land Where Two Streams Flow, wrote that Tal was “the most individualistic composer of the immigrant generation from Central Europe”. Tal won the Yoel Engel Prize, the Israel Prize (1971) and the Arts Prize of the City of Berlin (1975), shared the Wolff Prize with Vladimir Horowitz and Olivier Messiaen (1983). He is an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Tal’s opera Josef (1993) premiered in 1995 when Tal was 85 years old. To read more about Tal, read Jehoash Hirschberg, Music in the Jewish Community of Palestine 1880-1948, and Robert Fleisher, Twenty Israeli Coposers: Voices of a Culture.