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The extraordinarily gifted Sergiu Natra is a relatively recent immigrant from Romania, where he was held in the highest official esteem and accordingly rewarded even as a very young man. 



His March and Chorale received the Enescu Prize when he was barely seventeen years old. But while he was writing in the "realistic" folk style expected of him, he also studied Schoenberg and Stravinsky. And his ultimate decision to renounce a comfortable life in Romania for an uncertain future in Israel was motivated as much by the urge to leave the narrow artistic confines of the communist world as by the ardent desire to live in dignity as a Jew. To him, therefore, Israel represented above all the bridge between East and West, politically as well as culturally.



Since his arrival in 1961 Natra has written relatively little. But a comparison of the well-wrought Symphony for String Orchstra, composed shortly before he left Romania, with the Festive Overture -Toccata and Fuga for orchestra, commissioned for the 1963 Israel Festival, while revealing a common reliance on polyphonic structural patterns such as passacaglia and fugue, also shows that the secure conservatism of the earlier work has given way to new expressive means, specifically in the realms of rhythm and harmony. 



Near-Eastern elements, on the other hand, are missing altogether, no doubt because Natra became part of the country's musical scene just as Israeli composers were beginning to look for more cosmopolitan stylistic pastures themselves.


Musical composition in modern Israel by Prof. Alexander L. Ringer, The musical quarterly,


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