In 1969, while on a scholarship in Norway, the musicologist and radio journalist Yisrael Daliot met Arne Nordheim in order to settle the programme for a planned concert of his music in Jerusalem, and from that moment on he was the chief propagator of that music in Israel.
On 30 January 1990, Israeli Radio broadcast a concert of Nordheim’s works performed by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, organised in collaboration with the Norwegian embassy in Tel Aviv. Before the concert, Nordheim gave Daliot an interview and discussed the works being performed. The orchestra played a revised version of Epitaffio with tape and accompanied the cellist Aage Kvalbein in a performance of Tenebrae.
To mark Arne Nordheim’s sixtieth birthday, on 1 June 1991, Yisrael Daliot broadcast on Israeli Radio a concert from the Bergen Festival in which Nordheim appeared as festival composer. Besides a two-hour interview, also transmitted was Aurora for four solo voices, crotales and tape. In 2001, Aschehoug published Daliot’s book Sonorous Sayings. Conversations with Arne Nordheim.
In 1993, Daliot also brought about a performance of Nordheim’s Nedstigningen in Hebrew, in collaboration with the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK). Stein Mehren’s poem was translated by Naomi Varda Daliot. The original recording by the NRK Orchestra, soloists, children’s choir and electronic sounds was used, and the text in Hebrew was recited by one of Israeli Radio’s leading announcers. Nordheim edited the recordings himself. That version of Nedstigningen was a great success, and it was broadcast on Israeli Radio seven times, not including request shows. Few contemporary works have enjoyed such popularity in Israel as Nedstigningen. In connection with that performance, Nordheim defined his attitude to the Hebrew language and spoke of his youthful fascination with Gustav Mahler and his admiration for Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus. He mentioned that Wirklicher Wald for soprano, cello, choir and orchestra was inspired by Arnold Schönberg’s melodrama A Survivor from Warsaw, Op. 46 for spoken voice, male choir and orchestra(1947), in which the composer used three languages: English, German and Hebrew. Nordheim knew the Israeli composer Paul Ben-Haim and was interested in his musical use of Hebrew melodic inflections.
To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II, Helmut Rilling, of the International Bach Academy in Stuttgart, commissioned a Requiem of Reconciliation from fourteen composers from countries that had played some part in the war. They were to compose together a work in memory of the victims of the war. When invited to write one of the parts, Nordheim, who had lived through the war and still had vivid memories of his visit to Israel, wanted to compose music to the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead. He found a Swedish translation and thanks to Yisrael Daliot got hold of old melodies from Israeli Radio. It turned out, however, that the composers could only use parts of the Latin Catholic requiem mass (for the dead). Consequently, Nordheim composed music to the ‘Confutatis’, part of the Sequentia (‘When the wicked are confounded’) for soprano and choir. In Daliot’s opinion, the melismata of the recitation echo the Hebrew chant, lending the Mass a symbolic dimension.
In 1995, in a radio concert, Iris Assayas, first cello of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, performed Nordheim’s solo work Clamavi.
During his second visit to Israel, in 1996, Nordheim took part in a radio ‘Music Magazine’. That brought the performance of several more of his works: The Return of the Snark for trombone and electronic sounds was performed at the Eden-Tamir Music Centre by Emma Juliette Boyd, and later concerts in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem brought performances of Listen for piano, played by Einar Steen-Nøkleberg, and Aftonland, in a version for baritone and chamber ensemble, performed by the tenor Paul Robinson and the Israel Contemporary Players under Nicholas Carthy. (jc)