Song of Songs, Oratorio

Opus: 137 Year: 1940 
S, T, Bar, B, Choir, Symphonic Orchestra: 2,2,eh,2,bcl,sax,2-4,3,3,1-timp+4-hp,pn-str
70:00 min
Sheet Music
Song of Songs, Oratorio : Vocal Score$70.00

A 1962 recording:
Nurit Goren, Soprano
Shmaya Ashkenazi, Tenor
Mordechai Ben-Shachar, Baritone
Marc Lavry, Conductor
Kol Zion Lagola Choir (The Broadcasting Service Choir)
Kol Israel Symphony Orchestra (The Broadcasting Service Orchestra)

Lyrics: Max Brod based on Song of Songs

Publisher: The Marc Lavry Heritage Society


1942 article about Song of Songs

1942 article about Song of Songs

One of Lavry’s major compositions, the oratorio “Song of Songs” was composed together with lyricist Max Brod and the collaboration of Helena Lavry, the composer’s wife.
Max Brod changed the order of the phrases, without changing the biblical text, thus recreating what, he believed, was the correct sequence of the ancient story (see his full article.) The outcome is a lyrical drama of four scenes: In the Village – The Abduction – In Kings Solomon’s Palace – Ballad of Shulamith.

The oratorio, written for soloists, choir and orchestra, is considered one of the most influential choral works and a milestone in Israeli Music. Composed in 1940 it was premiered on October 22 of that year by the Jerusalem Radio Orchestra.

Song of Songs Program Notes

Song of Songs Program Notes

“Song of Songs”It is, in my opinion, impossible to adapt the “Song of Songs” as the wonderful beauty and power of the work would be diminished by any addition or alteration.

I have taken an entirely different path: I have not added nor omitted a single line. I have merely changed the sequence of lines and in this respect I admit that I have been distinctly radical. But I believe that I have thus restored the original for of the poem.

“Song of Songs” is a poem of pastoral character which sings of the ardent and true love of a shepherd and shepherdess triumphing over all obstacles. The King and his Court and his Harem appear as disturbing elements in this tale of simple love. The shepherdess is abducted and taken into the King’s harem. But she remains deaf to all his pleading and eventually flees from the royal palace.

Max Brod Explanation about the Lyrics to Song of Songs[

Max Brod Explanation about the Lyrics to Song of Songs

In this way a picture, very different from the traditional conception, is presented to us. In my book “Paganism, Christianity and Judaism” (Vol. II) I have stated in detail the reasons that induced me to come to this new interpretation of the text. Of all the arguments mentioned there I repeat only one: the text as it has been handed down to us contains many “lapses”, even contradictions, and by my re-arrangement it is made into a complete poetical unity, a small-scale lyrical drama in four acts. One situation necessarily develops from the other and the consequent unity of the artistic form attained indicates, I believe, that we have before us the original shape of this poem. The composition demanded that the text be somewhat shortened but this has not impaired the effect.

Max Brod



The Israel Symphony Orchestra Rishon LeZion
November 23-27, 2016
Kol Dodi (The Voice of my Beloved) from the oratorio Song of Songs
Manuel-Hernandez Silva, Conductor
Edit Zamir, Sopran

Raanana Symphonette Orchestra
August 12, 2007
Daniella Lugassi, Sopran
Eitan Drori, Tenor
Gabriel Loewenheim, Baritone
Yair Goren, Baritone
Tel-Aviv Chamber Choir
Maayan Choir
Michael Shani, Conductor