Chaya Arbel

Raised as a kibbutznik and taught that music was frivolous, Chaya Arbel only began pursuing a musical career in her forties, but went on to become one of Israel’s great modern composers. Arbel studied piano in Germany, but abandoned it after her family made Aliyah in 1936. She spent the next twenty-five years working the land at Kibbutz ha-Ma’apil, but in the 1960s, the noted piano teacher Ilona Vince Kraus encouraged her to return to music. In 1966 she became founder and director of the Music School of the Menashe region in Ein Shemer. Gradually she shifted to more avant-garde and atonal composition, employing free serial techniques in much of her work. Her style in the 1970s and 1980s was more bold and expressionistic, shifting to a more delicate approach in the 1990s. Arbel composed thirty solo and chamber pieces as well as five symphonic works, including 1990’s Dialogue for clarinet and orchestra, for which she won the ACUM Prize.

Topics: Music

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A woman and a kibbutznik, Chaya Arbel embodies two under-represented sectors on the Israeli musical composition scene.

Photo courtesy of Chaya Arbel.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Chaya Arbel." (Viewed on June 20, 2021) <>.


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