Professor Dalia Cohen, recipient of the 2012 Israel Prize - an appreciation
Submitted by admin on Sun, 04/08/2012 - 13:40
Professor Dalia Cohen, musicologist and educator, of the staunch nucleus of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, has been named a recipient of the 2012 Israel Prize for her achievement in the field of music research.
As of 1956, Dalia has been teaching at the JAMD a variety of subjects, among them Acoustics, Ear Training, Harmony and Counterpoint, Musical Analysis, Science of Musical Instruments, Methodology of Music Teaching, non-European Music, and more.
At the same time, she has taught in the Faculty of Musicology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, also today continuing to supervise students (mostly on doctoral dissertations). In addition to her PhD. in Musicology, Dalia Cohen holds a masters degree in Physics and Mathematics.
Dalia has written more than 80 articles in various fields, among them Ethnomusicology, Musical Cognition and Aesthetics, Folk Music and the Classification of Instruments, research on birdsong and Trope (Ta’ame Hamikra), research of the brain, the works of Johann Sebastian Bach, and more. She has also written many books on such subjects as Acoustics, Music in Eastern- and Western cultures, the Maqams of Arabic music, Music Education and Music Theory.
In honor of her receiving the Israel Prize, we have collected some greetings and congratulations to Dalia from friends and colleagues; from these one can learn of her achievements, her enormous contribution to the Academy, the recognition she has achieved in the field of music in Israel and overseas and, of course, of the respect and affection so many of us hold for her.
Firstly, greetings from the administration of the Academy – Professor Ilan Schul - president of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance and Micha Tal – deputy president and director general of the JAMD: A great honor has been bestowed upon us as we congratulate you at this time; those who appreciate you - your many friends and colleagues involved in music in general and, in particular, those at the Academy and in music education – are celebrating your receiving the 2012 Israel Prize together with you.
In the name of the governing council, faculty- and administrative colleagues, in the name of the entire Academy family and of us personally, we wish to express our deep appreciation and great joy at this significant gesture of recognition, recognition that has been due to you for decades, for your enormous and meaningful life-work which has influenced many generations of artists, researchers and educators.
This is also a wonderful opportunity to thank you for your outstanding and long-standing contribution to the Academy over several generations – generations of students, graduates and other members of the profession – and for your valuable initiative within the fields of Music Education, Non-European Music, the Science of Musical Instruments and, of course, in the establishing of the Faculty of Oriental Music. In high esteem to you, we wish you much good health and pleasure.
Prof. Taiseer Elias and the Oriental Music Ensemble
One of Dalia’s most significant contributions to the Academy has been the establishing of the Faculty of Oriental Music, a department today headed by Professor Taiseer Elias, Dalia’s personal friend and former pupil, and whose doctoral work was also supervised by her. Here are Professor Taiseer Elias’ greetings:
“Dalia Cohen is my oud- and Arabic violin teacher” – that is my answer to people who ask me who my teacher was for these instruments, but above all, “she is my mentor!”
When I was her student at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance and in the Faculty of Musicology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Dalia said insistently “Elias…you must go back to your roots and develop your playing of the oud and oriental violin…” At a later stage, I had the privilege of being Professor Dalia Cohen’s student in my masters and doctoral studies, and then of heading the Faculty of Arabic Music of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, a department established at Dalia’s initiative and as the result of her high regard for non-European culture and her profound belief that Arabic- and western music constitute two “complementary contrasts”.
In the course of countless hours she devoted to supervising me in the writing of my masters and doctoral theses, in emotional and intellectual support and in the maternal love she showed me, I was always amazed by her brilliance and artistic-creative skill, by her musical sensitiveness, her intellectual curiosity and her ability to think on an abstract level, at the same time being precise and delving into the smallest of details, while distinguishing between the essence of a subject and material of secondary importance. I hold a deep appreciation for the educator that she is, for her strongly humane personality, and I am acutely aware of her deep love for music and humanity. I remain moved by her rare personal attributes: integrity, decency, responsibility, diligence, work dedication, consideration and sensitiveness to the other and her fervent wish to help those around her, to the extent of often making one envious of her attributes.
In my work together with her, she has contributed much to forming the musician that I am today in a number of senses and on various levels: as a musician-researcher, as a teacher and pedagogue of different theoretical fields, and, definitely, as a performer on the oud and violin.
I do not know another person who is like Dalia who, in her friendliness, her appreciation and respect she has won in Israel, has achieved so much popularity and appreciation, both in circles of musicians and musicologists of the Arabic sector in Israel and amidst Arabic musicians and musicologists living in western- and Arabic countries alike.
In all the lectures I give in Israel and overseas, I frequently think of Dalia and/or refer to her! And it is no wonder that Dalia reminds me of J.S.Bach: just as there is no composer from his time to ours who has not been influenced by him, I have not, in my professional life, met any respected musician/musicologist who has not been influenced by his encounter with Dalia, remembering her teaching or quoting her knowingly or unknowingly!
I was overjoyed and very excited to hear that Professor Dalia Cohen would be receiving the Israel Prize – an award she has deserved for many years, and I heartily congratulate her. What is important is that justice has finally been done, and, together with this prize, Dalia has received part of the recognition and gratitude Israeli society owes her.
Dalia during a lesson
Many of Dalia’s students, who have become active musicians, educators and theorists, remember her lessons as a “constitutive experience”, the influence of which has extended far beyond the framework of dry academia. In these lessons, they have encountered an abundance of unforgettable expressions that reflect her musical-human approach (”Queen of the Night”, “How Abundant are thy Deeds, God”, “Reconciling contrasts”, and more); noted among them are the love of humanity and its skills. Here are greetings from three of her past pupils:
Professor Naftali Wagner, lecturer and researcher of the Department of Musicology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem: My acquaintance with Dalia Cohen began when I took her ear-training course throughout my studies at the Academy of Music early in the 1970s. An ear-training lesson with Dalia was much more than just any ear-training session: it was, in fact, the integration of what we had learned in all our other courses (Harmony, Counterpoint, Musical Analysis, History of Music, and more), piecing together anew the music that had been broken down into components in the other lessons.
In one of the lessons, Dalia dictated us a section of a very well-known work (it may have been Bach’s Double Concerto). One of the students asked what the work was. If this had happened in a class run by any of our other lecturers, the student would have been criticized for his ignorance or would at least have encountered some raised eyebrows and surprised looks – how come he is not familiar with such an elementary piece! But Dalia reacted saying “I so envy you being able to have your first introduction to such a beautiful work. I would so much like to hear it again for the very first time”. At that moment, the ear-training lesson became for me a constitutive lesson on teaching and, indeed, a basic lesson in interpersonal relations.
Professor Michael Wolpe, head of the Department of Composition, Conducting and Music Education at the Academy: Dear Dalia,
In plenitude and generosity, you have given me of your enormous knowledge and of your deep insight and original and articulate interpretation of the world of music in all its many and various aspects.
It was you who opened my eyes to the realm of acoustics and the physics of sound, also to the world of sound and to research into the nuances of speech. You also swept me up into the wonderful music that you love – Mozart, Schumann and, of course, Bach, and introduced me to other kinds of music – those wondrous styles of places far away from us - from India to Khosh.(?)
Everything I have learned from you has been enormous and vast, but that is inconsequential in the face of the two main things with which you have inundated me and many more like myself – the love of music and the love of mankind.
Dear Dalia, you are a very special lady; you are surrounded by those who love you and many generations of your students.
I am so happy that you are receiving the prize you so deserve.
Avi Bar-Eitan, composer and lecturer at the Academy and in the Faculty of Musicology of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem: Dearest Dalia,
For me, when I was still a student, your lessons constituted a fulfilling source of knowledge, profusion and humility. You gave us the ability to see the different aspects of things - to stand above the simplistic, everyday approach of contradictions and contrasts, to rise up, to observe and see. You taught us the term “reconciling contrasts” – proving that, on a certain level, contrasts can reconcile each other, and, in doing so, enrich our experience. You showed us how one could study, observe and look at material in depth, yet still remaining inside the “experience”.
In every meeting I have had with you, I have sensed your love for and sincere interest in each and every student and in all of humanity. In all of our personal discussions on learning, I sense anew how you are revealing the “secrets of creation”, peeling away layer after layer of what is covering light, to reveal the divine glimmer within us in general and in art, in particular.
In most of her research, Dalia strives to integrate the cognitive field that forces natural constraints on the choice of the various rules in different styles, at the same time examining different aesthetic ideals that arise from extra-musical frameworks (culture, period, politics and science). More can be learned about Dalia’s musical perception in an article dedicated to her in the Ha’Aretz newspaper.
Two of the key terms explained by Dalia have been “natural schemata” and “learned schemata”; these are mentioned in greetings sent to her by composer and theorist Professor Menachem Zur: Dalia researches music as a basic cultural component. Her wide perspective and list of publications are proof of the connection between social, ethnological and psychological content, this influencing musical achievement in Israel and the world. Dalia addresses the structural aspects of music, these demanding mathematical understanding and a knowledge of physics and acoustics alongside musical cognition and research into the human brain. Subjects of Dalia’s study include research into Arabic- and non-western music. She is able to compare all these with the principles of Renaissance counterpoint, the music of J.S.Bach, research of bird song and with musical thinking. Dalia has instructed many students over the 50 or so years she has been teaching and has also supervised (and continues to supervise) those taking masters- and doctoral studies. Her students are included among today’s finest researchers.
Dalia has been a pioneer in the matter of creating frameworks such as the teaching of music in Arabic elementary schools, where she initiated the training of teachers for that purpose; also, on the academic level, she was the first to introduce Arabic music as a special program at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. In this project, she recruited the best musicians and trained them to teach in it.
All her activities are interconnected, granting many of those involved in them added value, contributing to Israeli society and enriching people’s lives in substance and meaning, the supreme objective being the understanding of musical culture in all its aspects, through much sensitiveness together with its human aspect.
I personally owe her much for the deep conversations we have had together; these have contributed to my understanding of the creative process and the theory of composition. The concept of “natural- and learned schemata” has facilitated for me a cognitive basis which, as a creative artist, I had always sensed, but had not understood its ramifications in depth until formulated clearly and hierarchically by Dalia. Dalia’s ideas have contributed much to forming an important part of my personality and I know that this is also true regarding many others.
Dalia’s total dedication, her depth of enquiry and her need to endow those around her with her abundance of knowledge are summed up in the next acknowledgements:
pianist and pedagogue Professor Asaf Zohar’s acknowledgement. Asaf Zohar teaches at the Academy and at the School of Music at Tel Aviv University: Warm greetings to Professor Dalia Cohen – recipient of the 2012 Israel Prize. My acquaintance with Dalia has extended over more than 20 years, during which time we have both been faculty members of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. Beyond being a superb musician and music researcher, Dalia is endowed with rare psychological sensitiveness and a genuine love of her students. Her total involvement in any subject she approaches is a benchmark encouraging her colleagues to strive for such excellence and perfection.
My “private corner” with Dalia touches on the concert series that Chana Englard and I have been producing for over a decade at the Academy. Dalia Cohen has been present at our concerts from the first of the series till today. Her comments regarding program, content and performance are always wise and enlightening. No concert ends without Dalia taking the trouble to go backstage; she makes a point of speaking to each player or lecturer to “thrash out” her pedagogical theories and the deliberations of her heart with them; and this is always done with the height of respect towards the other person and with her unique capacity to convince!
The truth is that we would always be waiting for the end of the concert to hear Dalia’s “verdict”…this very often continuing later on in fascinating telephone conversations. I have learned much from Dalia Cohen, as have hundreds or perhaps thousands of students throughout the years. Israel is proud of its people of letters and of research on the level carried out by Professor Dalia Cohen. Let us hope there will be others like her.
Dr. Stephen Horenstein - composer, theorist, and educator:
Professor Dalia Cohen was my advisor (10 years!) on a doctoral dissertation examining the multitudinous ways in music alters our perception of time.
I write this on one hour before your award is presented. I think back on the countless hours we spent together, your guidance, your perseverance, and your constant belief in my abilities to carry out my doctoral dissertation.
I reflect on your boundless energies and willingness, at any time, night or day, to give of yourself without measure and without hesitation. I reflect on your love to me, nurturing and embracing. Our talks went well beyond the “task” at hand. And above all, your unfaltering commitment to precision and excellence, not settling for less than 100%, challenging mediocrity, first impressions, and lack of depth.
Your tutorship was the mastery of unpacking assumptions, re-packing them, and unpacking them again. Minute by minute, day by day, I was blessed with a decade of a meeting of minds, and your constant generosity. Thank you. Forever. Steve
Our congratulations and best wishes go to Dalia for her continued valuable music activity.