Category Archives: Elper

Eliezer Elper: By the Rivers of Babylon (premiere)

The composer Eliezer Elper holds his Ph.D. from Bar-Ilan University, Israel. His compositions are broadcast on the Israeli classical channel, Kol ha-Musica. His works have recently been performed in Israel, Poland, Austria, Turkey, Italy, Russia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Greece, Slovakia, Brazil, Ukraine and the United States.

In recent years Eliezer Elper has composed a number of works for string orchestra. The premier of Greetings from the Holy Land took place in Rovno, Ukraine (2013). The premier of Mein Städtele Jerusalem took place on the same day in Seoul, S. Korea and in Kaluga, Russia (2016) and is to be repeated in Kaluga in 2017. A major piece, The Sun, Boulevard and… Barbed Wire for strings (in memory of the Holocaust) is to be premiered in Makhachkala, Dagestan, RF (2017).

In 2016 Elper’s piece Bу the Rivers of Babylon for symphonic orchestra was commissioned by the Adele and John Gray Endowment Fund. The piece is dedicated to the Whatcom Symphony Orchestra and the Pennsylvania Centre Orchestra.

The music is based on Psalm 137. The early lines of the poem are very well known, as they describe the sadness of the Israelites, asked to “sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land.” This they refuse to do, leaving their harps hanging on trees. The poem then turns into self-exhortation to remember Jerusalem.

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, we also wept, when we remembered Zion. We hung our lyres on the willows in its midst. For there, those who carried us away captive required of us a song; and those who tormented us required of us mirth, saying, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion.’ How shall we sing God’s song in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember you, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy. (Psalms 137:1-6)