Newsletter: Radio interview with Marc Lavry


Newsletter from March 26, 2014:

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Lavry was a talented storyteller. It was always a pleasure to listen to his personal stories.

Recently we found a radio interview from the Sixties in which Lavry describes how he wrote the song Hanita. This popular tune later became the famous aria in Lavry’s opera Dan Hashomer (Dan the Guard).
The circumstances of the writing of the song attest to Lavry’s attentiveness to his surroundings and demonstrate his ability to take inspiration from current events.

Lavry with a military band

Lavry with a military band

We are very excited to have found this recording because this is one of the few where Lavry can be heard speaking. We are particularly impressed with his humility and respect to those around him. He was stranded in Hanita and to pass the time he wrote a song for the people with him. Lavry observed the interaction of the audience with the song, and incorporated new sounds, like Eastern trills, in the final version.

* The song Hanita was recorded with Paolo Gorin


Lavry: At the end of an opera I conducted in Haifa, the “Old Man”, the famous Yitzhak Sadeh (of the Haganah defense forces), who was in the audience said to me: “you know, Lavry, let’s go for a drive”.

Interviewer: What year was that?

Lavry: It must have been ’37 or ’38, during the “uprisings”.
So we drove. It was quite more than just a short drive, and in the morning we arrived at Lower Hanita in the Galilee. We met a group of soldiers that was getting ready to take over the strategic hill above.

Shortly after we arrived gunshots were heard in the distance and we weren’t allowed to turn back. I had nothing to do so I started writing a song. The Old Man gave me lyrics to S. Shalom’s poem “Hanita”. I made it a simple tune, taught it to the men and women in the group, and changed it as we went.

The interesting thing was that every time we sang a phrase, the Arabs on the hill across from us echoed it with an Eastern trill, and Arabic embellishment. We got to a point where we intentionally paused to give them time to reply. It was like a game, and I so much enjoyed it that it remained in my new composition.

Interviewer: Did you feel the need to put this into the composition?

Lavry: Absolutely! The trills remain there to date!

Interviewer: Which performance would you like to hear this time?

Lavry: I think one of the best performers was Paolo Gorin.

Interviewer: Well, we will play it for you with Paolo Gorin.

We unfortunately do not have information about the radio program or the interviewer. If anyone happens to have details, we’d be grateful for the information.


The Marc Lavry Heritage Society

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