Print | Back

Moshe Wilensky

Moshe WilenskyMOSHE WILENSKY (also VILENSKY and VILENSKI) (1910 – 1997) was one of Israel’s leading composers and is considered a “pioneer of Israeli song” for helping create an indigenous popular music style that fuses both Slavic and Eastern strains and also joins a serious nationalism with lighter popular music. From the 1930s through the 1980s, he wrote nearly 1,500 songs.

Born in Warsaw, Poland, Wilensky studied at the Warsaw Conservatory of Music, specializing in conducting and composition. He immigrated to Israel in 1932.

Wilensky’s career began as a pianist in theaters. He went on to compose and write lyrics for musical troupes of the Israel Defense Forces, including the Nahal choir in the 1950s. He also composed music for films and plays, as well as hora dances, cabaret songs and children’s tunes. Wilensky particularly is noted for his work with Shoshana Damari (a Yemenite–Israeli singer known as the “Queen of Hebrew Music”) and musical settings for works by Israeli poet Natan Alterman. Among Wilensky’s most well-known songs are “Kalaniyot“ (“Anemones”), “Hayu Zmanim” (“In Those Times)”, “Autumn,” “Ring Twice and Wait,” “Each Day I Lose,” “The Last Battle” and “Mul Har Sinai” (“Opposite Mt. Sinai”).

In 1983, Wilensky was awarded the Israel Prize, for Hebrew song (melody). In 1990, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra performed a special concert in honor of his 80th birthday. In 1998, the Israel Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ACUM) named its Song of the Year Award the “Moshe Wilensky Prize.”

In 2005, Wilensky was voted the 187th greatest Israeli of all time, in a poll by the Israeli news website Ynet to determine whom the general public considered the 200 Greatest Israelis.


Back to Composers