Abraham Zevi Idelsohn (Hebrew: אַבְרָהָם צְבִי אידלסון‎; middle name also rendered Zvi, Zwi, or Zebi; 1882–1938) was a prominent Jewish ethnologist and musicologist, who conducted several comprehensive studies of Jewish music around the world.

Idelsohn was born in Feliksberg, Latvia and trained as a cantor. He worked briefly in both Europe and South Africa before emigrating to Palestine in 1905 and establishing a school of Jewish music there in 1919. In 1922 he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio to take a position as professor of Jewish music at Hebrew Union College. His works include the Thesaurus of Hebrew Oriental Melodies (10 volumes, 1914-1932) and Jewish Music (1929). He is considered to be the author of the text of the famous Jewish folk song "Hava Nagila."[1][2] .

He is the maternal grandfather of Joel Goodman Joffe (Lord Joffe).[2] [3]

Abraham Zevi Idelsohn may also be known as Bashir Am Israelim[4]

External references


  1. See Who Wrote Havah Nagilah? at
  2. 2.0 2.1 Joel Joffe mentioned his grandfather and his grandfather's role in writing Hava Nagila in an appearance on BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Discs on 28 October 2007
  3. More evidence of the relationship between Idelsohn and Joffe is provided in this family tree
  4. In the Desert Island Discs programme referenced above, the associated notes, saved in an enthusiast's posting state "Composer: Bashir Am Israelim", meaning that either this is an alias for Abraham Zevi Idelsohn, to whom Joffe was clearly referring in the programme, or the programme notes contain an erroneous entry.

ar:أبراهام تسفي إيديلسونja:アーブラハム・ツェーヴィ・イーデルゾーン pt:Abraham Zevi Idelsohn ru:Идельсон, Авраам Цви

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