When the famous conductor Arthur Fiedler invited Fromm to compose a work for the Boston Pops Orchestra in 1971, Fromm chose to create this brief musical depiction of the resettling and rebuilding of the Land of Israel. Basing the piece in part on his earlier Palestinian March (1942), which he revised and adapted, he titled the new work Pioneers (Ḥalutzim)—in programmatic reference to the early Zionist pioneer-settlers in Palestine in the decades preceding the founding of the state, in 1948. The initial theme quotes from Na’ale l’artzenu b’rina (We Will Go Up to Our Land with Joy), a well-known anonymous ḥalutz song dating at least to the Third Aliya, or the immigration period of the early 1920s. It is a marchlike tune of unknown origin that appeared in a number of Jewish songster publications from the late 1920s through the 1940s. It was printed in America as early as 1929 in such a community songster, published by the Board of Jewish Education in Chicago. Fromm also adapted the same tune independently for a synagogue hymn, with English words by the American Jewish poet and hymnist Penina Moise (1797–1880), which he published in a small hymnal in the late 1940s.
The Na’ale l’artzenu tune is expanded and elaborated through the first section of this orchestral piece. A second theme, which reflects a perceived Near Eastern character, is introduced by the flute and developed by the woodwinds. The trumpet introduces a third theme, followed by a reprise of the ḥalutz song. Following a brief reappearance of part of the second section, a short coda brings the piece to an enthusiastic, optimistic conclusion.
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