Alei Dvai (Leaves of Sorrow), Cantata

Opus: 238 Year: 1951 
Solo Baritone, Choir, Symphonic Orchestra: 2,2,2,2-3,2,3,1-timp+1-hp-str
22:00 min

Prelude – Kaddish (Mourning) – Intermezzo – In Tears – On Guard at Night – Your Will – Song of Praise

Recorded on May 2, 1967 at the YMCA Hall in Jerusalem:
Willie Haparnas, Baritone
Eitan Lustig, Conductor
Kol Zion Lagola Choir (The Broadcasting Service Choir)
Kol Israel Symphony Orchestra (The Broadcasting Service Orchestra)

Lyrics: Reuven Avinoam

Manuscripts: Located at the National Library of Israel Music Department, the Marc Lavry Archive, System Number(s) 990035304510205171, 99003827018020517, 990038270120205171

“On the 23rd of [the Jewish month of] Adar Alef, 1948, the day when my oldest son, Noam, has fallen in the heroic battle on the Judea mountains, the tree of my life was shattered and these are the leaves of sorrow that fell from it.” These words were written by the poet Reuven Grossman (Avinoam) in the introduction to his collection of poems “Leaves of Sorrow” in which the poet passionately describes the feelings of a grieving father in Israel.

Marc Lavry, in his own words, said about his composition: “This event, one of the heroic epics of the [Israeli] Independence War, moved me deeply, and I was especially touched by the words of a father grieving the death of his son. I saw in these lines a symbol for the reaction of the thousands of grieving parents, and in my music I tried to express their feelings as well as my own as a composer living the times and events.”

The cantata comprises 7 movements:

  • Prelude – Andante
    The land gave – the land hath taken away
  • Kaddish (Mourning) – Andantino
    The mourning father finds comfort knowing that his son didn’t lose his life in vain, for “he laid down his life to make a covenant with this land”
  • Intermezzo – Largo
    Orchestral interlude
  • In Tears – Adagio
    The poet asks for his son’s forgiveness for morning his loss; the heart of a father is not made of stone
  • On Guard at Night – Andante Moderato
    Choir and Orchestra, without words
  • Your Will – Andante
    The son’s will ends with the words “Do not mourn me for I have done my duty.” The father’s response is then “That is your command but I am I too small to fulfill it”
  • Song of Praise – Moderato (Maestoso)
    The poet asks for the strength and wisdom to comprehend his son’s noble spirit