I first got to know Yehezkel Braun in 1982. I was writing my doctoral thesis, in part, about his music, and he consented to be interviewed. Yehezkel was teaching at Brandeis University that year. I soon discovered that this man was as sweet as his music. He was a true humanist, as interested in literature as he was in music. He spent time with the monks at the Solemnes monastery, studying Gregorian chant and comparing it to Jewish chant. He was born in Germany and was brought to Palestine as a child. He was a peaceful man, but served in the Israeli army. He was a humble man, but he was the recipient of the Israel Prize, and his many compositions for chorus, for orchestra and for many combinations of instruments have been performed by prestigious ensembles all over the world.
In 1982 the Zamir Chorale of Boston was privileged to be part of a concert of Yehezkel’s music at Brandeis. I still remember conducting a charming piece with the unlikely title of “The Rules for Blowing the Shofar.” Since then we have performed one or more of Yehezkel’s wonderful choral pieces nearly every season, including several pieces that he composed for us. Singers love his music because Yehezkel loved melody, and made sure that every voice part had something gracious to sing.
Yehezkel passed away this week. We will miss him, his intellectual banter, his fascinating stories about Israel’s early years, his engaging smile. But, of course, his music lives on.
27 August, 2014