Composition in the Aftermath of Hebrew Culture: The Musics of Betty Olivero and Chaya Czernowin

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Ideally this article should be titled "decomposing Hebrewism," except that by the turn of the twenty-first century composers in Israel were past the point of opposing the tropes that constituted Hebrew culture and the territorial paradigms that had conditioned it. Still, the two composers under discussion here-Betty Olivero and Chaya Czernowin-do not offer more-of-The-same stand-ins in the monolithic form of representations or identities (gender identities included); nor are there common stylistic traits that could reason their joint appearance here (and their gender, needless to say, would be a poor excuse). In fact, it is despite their unequivocally different aesthetic penchants that we can point to artistic perceptions which mute national territorial tropes, disable the Zionist management of Jewish history, and opt for non-redemptive poetics-all while drawing on Jewish musical traditions or modern Hebrew literature. Looking at (and listening to) Olivero and Czernowin's works, this article discusses the modern and postmodern patrimonies that steer their writing while situating both in the aftermath of Hebrew Culture. Knowingly circumventing the playing of identity cards or the displaying of peripheral masks, Olivero and Czernowin's musics signal a constituent shift toward simultaneities, multiplicities, defacing of musical signifiers, and the unmarked semiotics of cultural spaces that are bluntly incongruent with the national.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)200-214
Number of pages15
JournalIsrael Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

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  • Art Music
  • Betty Olivero
  • Chaya Czernowin
  • David Grossman
  • Diasporism
  • Hebrew Culture.


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