Betty Olivero is a contemporary Israeli composer, who has lived during most of her career in Florence, Italy.

In Olivero's works, traditional and ethnic music materials are processed using western contemporary compositional techniques; traditional melodies and texts undergo processes of development, adaptation, transformation, assimilation, resetting and re-composition, to the point of assuming new forms in different contexts. These processes touch on wide and complex areas of contrast, such as east and west, holy and secular, traditional and new.

Olivero was awarded the Fromm Award by the Fromm Music Foundation (USA, 1986), the Prime Minister's Prize (Israel, 2001), the Rosenblum Award for the Performing Arts (Israel, 2003), the Landau Award for the Performing Arts (Israel, 2004), the ACUM prize for Life Achievements (Israel, 2004), the Prime Minister's Prize (Israel, 2009) and the ACUM Award for Achievement of the Year (Israel, 2010). While still studying in Israel, Betty Olivero was granted scholarships from the America-Israel-Cultural-Foundation.
In 2000 Olivero was awarded the prestigious Koussevitzky Award by the Koussevitzky Music Foundation and the Library of Congress, Washington USA, one of the most important international awards, given annually only to six composers.

Olivero's works are published by Universal Music Publishing Classical (Casa Ricordi Music Milano) in Italy, and the Israel Music Institute (IMI) in Israel. Her works were recorded by ECM, Angel, Koch International, Ricordi, Pläne, IMI, Beit Hatefutsoth, and Folkways records companies.

Between 2004-2008 Olivero was composer-in-residence for the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra.

Olivero is currently living in Israel. She is a mother of two children and is a full professor of composition at the Music Department in Bar-Ilan University.




"I find the process of confronting and juxtaposing traditional, formal means with contemporary vocabulary to be highly challenging and of great curiosity. One of the most fundamental issues in my work, and the aim of my musical creation, is to use traditional, ethnic music materials in the compositional processes and thereby participate in the essence of oral tradition: transmission of essence, through evolution of expression: preservation and change. I do not seek these materials out of any scientific-musicological point of view. They serve purely as a dramatic stimulus and as a point of reference. Close scrutiny of these sources uncovers hidden, unpremeditated musical means, which invite further extension and development. These traditional melodies and texts undergo thorough transformation, so profound as to make their original form, at times, unrecognizable, yet their spirit and highly-charged dramatic potential remain untouched."

(Betty Olivero)



About Betty Olivero's work :

Jewish Women Encyclopedia by Ronit Seter


"Betty olivero is one of the most authentic musical forces now, one of the most self-aware and deeply connected to today's Jewish music (...) As a composer, she is a most impressive voice in Jewish culture and an important presence from a worldwide perspective as well. What is great about her is that she doesn't use the tradition as an ideological tool or, worse, as a political tool. She uses the spiritual dimension (...) Israel should be proud of her (...)"


(Luciano berio, Ha'aretz magazine)



"Betty Olivero is a major talent (...), one of the best composers around today and highly respected everywhere (...)"

(Zubin Mehta, Ha'aretz magazine)



"(...) There were many more beautiful moments in Merkavot by the Israeli composer Betty Olivero. In its first movement, quiet communications among solo strings survived sudden single events: percussion impulses or huge chords that had a somewhat Messian- like shine and seductiveness, but within a far more fluid musical world. The second, with warbling flute and clarinet, the constant, again swayed and bulged unpredictably. Here was one composer to ask back (...)"

(Paul Griffiths, The New York Times)



"(...) The major discovery was Betty Olivero`s Batnun, a single-movement Concerto for double bass and orchestra that stands as one of the few fully convincing solo pieces for double bass I've encountered (...)"

(Alex Ross, The New York Times)



"Betty Olivero`s song-cycle, Cantes Amargos, is one of the most beautiful works of its kind heard in recent memory (...)"

(Bill Zakariasen, Daily News)



"(...) Munich Philharmonic conducted by Hiroshi Wakasugi, at the Fourth Biennale. The discovery of the evening was Betty Olivero`s Tenu'ot (...) This short piece by the young Israeli made a great impression. No note is superfluous in this complex score. There is no search for bombastic effects here. This is an intense work that is highly musical. Bravo to the composer!"

(Roland Schmidt, Abendzeitung)



"(...) Merkavot by Betty Olivero has given the audience an opportunity to listen to a modern master piece, excitingly deep and very surprising by its orchestral virtuosity."

(Noa'm Ben-Zeev, Ha'aretz)



"(...) The combination of the old German film Der Golem from 1920 with the music written by the Israeli composer Betty Olivero, has created a whole which is bigger than its components. The sounds not only enrich the film, they are magnificent music which combines the Klezmer elements with the Baroque, all plane without any disguise, to create a convincing sound."

(Michael Handelsalz, Ha'aretz)



"(...) In Olivero's hands, the Hosha'ana sounds commanding, insisting. It cries for God in a protest manner, with the pain of dissonant chords, with Piccolo and Bells and screaming strings. A heart penetrating scream, an unforgettable music. (...)Presenze by Olivero was thrilling with its wonderful bravery and its orchestral and melodic innovation."

(Noam Ben-Ze'ev, Ha'aretz)



"(...) The ensemble presented the world premiere of a profoundly beautiful work by the Israeli composer Betty Olivero Achot Ketana ("In Memoriam"). A mezzo-soprano intones a Hebrew prayer from 13th century Spain to music based on the opening harmonies and gestures of Bach's "Chaconne" for solo violin. The piece is full of echoes: three solo violinists and a clarinetist stand behind the string ensemble, introducing ideas and providing commentary, all directed by Olivero's sense of drama and precision of ear."

(Richard Dyer, Globe Staff)



BETTY OLIVERO was born in Tel-Aviv, Israel. She studied at the Rubin Academy of Music, at Tel Aviv University and Bar-Ilan University with Itzhak Sadai and Leon Shidlowsky, and at Yale University where her teachers included Jacob Druckman and Bernard Rands. In 1982 a Leonard Bernstein Scholarship enabled her to work at Tanglewood with Luciano Berio, with whom she continued to study in Italy (1983-86).

Olivero's innovative music speaks the language of contemporary compositional form, yet is inspired by ancient Jewish and other early musical traditions. Folk material appears in rich, nuanced arrangements, or is blended through avant-garde transformations into textures featuring dense heterophony, rhythmic complexity and rich orchestration. Her style is coherent and non-eclectic, yet combines elements as diverse as Judeo-Spanish (sephardic) music, Arab tunes and medieval music integrated into a contemporary musical language.

Olivero's compositions have been performed by leading orchestras and chamber groups such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the London Sonfonietta, the Amsterdam Sinfonietta, the Juilliard Ensemble and the Arditti Quartet, and at many major European, North American and Asian festivals.


(Adaptation of the biography from the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians)



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© 2003 Betty Olivero