Born in Kutno, Poland, Issachar Miron (Michrovsky) studied music and chemistry in Warsaw. Following the German invasion, he became the sole survivor of his family—all other members of which were murdered at Chelmno in 1942. He made his way to Palestine, where he served in the British and, after 1948, the Israeli army. In Israel, he directed his efforts at arranging and promoting its new folk music, but he also began more serious composition. Among his works from that period are his Seven Syncopated Preludes for two pianos; several cantatas; and chamber music for a variety of instrumental combinations. After resettling in the United States, he continued composing for concert, film, broadcast, and sacred media. His oratorio The Golden Gates of Joy and his cantata Song of Esther were performed and broadcast by the Ray Charles Singers in 1968. During the 1970s Miron collaborated with Theodore Bikel on a narrated recording, Silent No More, which presented songs relating to the contemporaneous struggle experienced by Soviet Jewry to gain permission to observe aspects of Jewish life without harassment—as well as to emigrate. His book Eighteen Gates of Jewish Holidays and Festivals (1993) is a collection of music, poetry, and contemporary meditations. He also scripted, composed, and directed radio and television programs, films, concerts, and multimedia shows for the United Jewish Appeal in the 1970s and 1980s.
Despite his many classically oriented sacred as well as secular works, Miron is often best known for the song Tzena tzena, tzena, of which his authorship was established by a copyright infringement court case arising out of its use as an assumed folksong. The song was then brought to wide public attention, with Miron’s collaboration, by Pete Seeger and the Weavers, followed by numerous other celebrities.
Miron received many awards, including the Kavod Award of the Cantors Assembly, Gold Awards of the International Film and Television Festivals of New York, and the Engel Prize. He is particularly proud that his Ufi ruaḥ was the first Hebrew song broadcast on Egyptian radio—following President Anwar Sadat’s announcement that he was ready to recognize the State of Israel and negotiate a peace treaty.
By: Neil W. Levin
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