Al Naharot Bavel (By the Rivers of Babylon)

Opus: 33 Year: 1935 
String Orchestra
Symphonic Orchestra: 1,1,1,1-4,0,0,0-timp+1-hp-str
13:30 min
Sheet Music
Al Naharot Bavel for String Orchestra : Full Set$34.00
Al Naharot Bavel for String Orchestra : Score Only$10.00
Al Naharot Bavel for Symphonic Orchestra : Full Set$59.00
Al Naharot Bavel for Symphonic Orchestra : Score Only$22.00

Al Naharot Bavel for Symphonic Orchestra:
Marc Lavry (Conductor)
Kol Israel Symphony Orchestra (The Broadcasting Service Orchestra)


A recording of Al Naharot Bavel for String Orchestra at the Salute to Marc Lavry concert on June 17, 2012:
Barak Tal, Conductor
Tel-Aviv Soloists Ensemble

Publisher: The Marc Lavry Heritage Society

In a 1939 interview for the Davar newspaper, Lavry said about the composition: “Al Naharot Bavel” (By the Rivers of Babylon) the first composition I wrote in Israel in 1935, is a lament on devastated hopes, a song of repentance and regrets.”

In 1933, Lavry felt that Germany was not safe for Jews. He immediately returned to his hometown, Riga. Within the year he decided that Riga too was unsafe for the Jews and he immigrated to Israel early 1935.

The main theme is based on a Sephardic melody Lavry became familiar with, whose text is from Psalms CXXXVII that describes the crying and the longing of the Diaspora Jews for Zion. The composer felt that he reached his homeland and was therefore compelled to share his emotions in an intimate yet crying lamentation.

Note: Lavry composed Al Naharot Bavel (By the Rivers of Babylon) in 1935 for Chamber Orchestra. In 1939 he adapted it for Symphonic Orchestra.


Al Naharot Bavel (By the Rivers of Babylon) for String Orchestra:

Viktor Ullmann Festival, 2015
Orchestra Abima
Davide Casali, Conductor

  • July 8, 2015
    Synagogue, via Ascoli, 19, Gorizia, Italy
  • July 9, 2015
    Jewish Museum, Via del Monte, 5, Trieste, Italy
  • 3. July 12, 2015
    Cividale del Friuli, Italy

Dresden, Germany, Nov. 19, 2013

Al Naharot - German…The Synagogue was packed, every seat taken. Works by Jewish composers were resurrected, reminding the audience of the systematic persecution of the Jews three quarters of a century ago.

The Neue Jüdische Kammerphilharmonie Dresden invited the audience to take part in an evening of extremely thoughtful contemplation, including works by Franz Schreker, Alexander Zemlinsky, Marc Lavry and Franz Waxman…

Particularly moving was Lavry’s tone poem “Al Naharot Bavel”, a work that palpably expresses confusion, mourning and rage, in which the listener feels himself as if seized by hands shaking with anger, as if every bar of music wanted to cry out: ‘Why?’ The conductor Michael Hurshell and his Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra succeeded in building up, with this composition, a terrific, atmospheric tension in the Synagogue, that nearly reaches the breaking point.

— Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten, Nov. 19, 2013 — by Nicole Czerwinka

Renovo String Orchestra
November 14, 2013
The Music Institute of Chicago, Illinois, USA

Les Sommets du Classique Music Festival, Switzerland
August 15, 2012
Tel Aviv Soloists Ensemble
Barak Tal, Conductor

Salute Concert to Marc Lavry
June 17, 2012 at the Enav Center in Tel-Aviv
Al Naharot Bavel performed by the Tel-Aviv Soloists Ensemble with conductor Barak Tal

Hadera Orchestra, Israel
April 12, 2011
Omri Hadari, Conductor

Neue Jüdische Kammerphilharmonie Dresden
Michael Hurshell, Conductor

  • May 17 & 18, 2009 – Mendelssohn Hall, Gewandhaus Leipzig; Jewish Community Center, Chemnitz
  • November 10, 2009, Saxon Representation to the Federation, Berlin
  • April 8, 2010, Great Hall of the International Congress Center, Dresden

Al Naharot Bavel (By the Rivers of Babylon) for Symphonic Orchestra:
The Israel Symphony Orchestra Rishon LeZion – November 5-9, 2016
James Judd, Conductor

The Haifa Symphony Orchestra – 1977
Kamila Kolchinskaya, Conductor