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Nurit Hirsch

b. 1942

by Nathan Shahar

Nurit Hirsch (Rosenfeld) is one of the most prolific and varied songwriters of contemporary Israeli song. Born in Tel Aviv in 1942 to Hillel and Leah Hirsch, she graduated from the Rubin Academy of Music, where she studied piano with Alexander Buch, composition with Mordechai Seter and Yeheskiel Braun (both Israel Prize laureates) and jazz with Professor Zvi Keren. She also studied orchestration with Noam Sharif and conducting with Laslo Roth. She continued her studies at UCLA, where she took courses in music for films, contemporary music and electronic music. In New York she studied composition with Norman Dello Joio.

In 1962, after completing her army service with the Armored Corps Troupe, she worked as an accompanist at a number of places. In 1965 her first two compositions, both to lyrics by Uri Assaf, were published: “Perah ha-Lilakh” (The Lilac Flower), performed by the Sarid Trio, and “Kehulah ka-Halom” (Blue as a Dream), performed by the Gesher ha-Yarkon Trio. “Perah ha-Lilakh” became a hit the next year, when it was performed by Chava Alberstein, who recorded it together with another of Hirsch’s songs, “Makhela Aliza” (The Happy Choir, lyrics by Leah Naor).

Since then, for a period of about forty years, twelve hundred songs by Hirsch have been recorded, some in several versions. Some examples are “Ba-Shanah ha-Ba’ah” (Next year, lyrics by Ehud Manor) and “Oseh Shalom bi-Meromav” (text from the Kaddish prayer).

Hirsch’s music is fairly diversified. In addition to the songs and popular works which she composed for some of the finest vocalists, for troupes both military and civilian and for various vocal combinations—duos, trios and quartets—and in addition to the musical arrangements she composed for many of them, she composed the music for fourteen films, including Ha-Shoter Azulay (The Policeman Azulay), Immi ha-Generalit (My Mother, the General) and Lupo. She also composed a number of musicals, such as Sallah Shabbati (which ran for four hundred performances), music for television series which became popular hits countrywide (Parpar Nehmad [Pretty Butterfly], Krovim Krovim [Relatives, Relatives], Ha-Bayit shel Fistuk [Fistuk’s House], Barba’abba, etc.).

At the first festival of Hassidic music, held in 1969, “Oseh Shalom bi-Meromav” won third prize. Since then, the tune has spread worldwide and numerous congregations of all streams include it in their prayers.

In 1973, when Israel participated for the first time in the Eurovision Song Contest, submitting Hirsch’s “Ey Sham” (Somewhere, lyrics by Ehud Manor), the song placed fourth. Hirsch herself conducted the Eurovision orchestra in her own orchestral arrangement of the song. At the 1978 Eurovision contest her song “Abanibi” (lyrics by Ehud Manor, sung by Yizhar Cohen), won first prize.

In Israel Radio song competitions her compositions have frequently won first prize (e.g. “Ba-Derekh Hazara” [1969, lyrics by Ehud Manor]; “The Love of Theresa di Mon” [1970, lyrics by Lea Goldberg], “Zion, Ha-Lo Tishali” [1972, lyrics by Judah Halevi], etc.). She also won first prize at children’s song contests and at a number of song festivals: in Japan in 1974, Chile, Portugal (1978), France (1971), Malta (1972), Ireland (1979), Yugoslavia (1979) and Brazil. In Israeli song clubs, her works head the list of popular songs.

In 1992 Hirsch began composing numerous children’s songs. Together with lyricist Mikhal Hazon, she produced a video entitled Dig Dig Doog, which sold in hundreds of thousands of copies. This success led to a second video for children, Pim Pam Po (1999), which contained songs based on fairy tales, with actor Tuvya Zafir performing.

Hirsch has worked with Israel’s best lyricists, with some of whom she collaborated very frequently. These include the late Ehud Manor, Yoram Teharlev, Leah Naor and Rahel Shapira.

To date, four volumes of her songs have appeared: Fifty Hits (Ma’ariv 1969), La-Lekhet Shevi Aharayikh (Captivated by You, Yediot Aharonot, 1984), Rak Beinatayim (Just for Now, Yediot Aharonot 1990), Dig Dig Doog (Sheva, 1996).

Hirsch had two children by her ex-husband, Yoram Rosenfeld. Both are musicians; her son Danny is an instrumentalist, while her daughter Ruthi is a singer of classical music.

How to cite this page

Shahar, Nathan. "Nurit Hirsch." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 1 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on September 2, 2014) <http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/hirsch-nurit>.

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