PhD honoris causa recipient: Yoni Rechter

Israeli pianist and composer


People behind the science

Date: October 30, 2017
Weizmann homepage

Yoni Rechter is one of Israel's leading musicians, a versatile composer, gifted performer of wide acclaim and popularity, producer, and arranger. The captivatingly beautiful music he has composed for beloved songs, with their complex harmonies and memorable tunes, as well as his sophisticated-yet-unpretentious pieces for the theater and film, have become the soundtrack of modern Israeli culture for over four decades.

Rechter was born and raised in Tel Aviv. His father, Yakov Rechter, was an architect, who designed several Weizmann Institute campus buildings, including the Maurice and Gabriela Goldschleger Life Sciences Library, the Lunenfeld-Kunin Residences for Visiting Scientists, and Europe House.

He began to play the piano at age eight. At sixteen, he composed the music for the iconic song "Tears of Angels" written by his classmate Dan Minster. He later served in the IDF's Artillery Corps band and went on to study at the Music Academy in Tel Aviv. During this period, he joined Kaveret, one of Israel's most successful rock bands, widely considered a breakthrough in Israeli rock and pop history. Together with Avner Kenner, he started the Fourteen Octaves ensemble (1975), creating and performing music inspired by progressive rock, jazz, and classical music.

Separately and combined, these three musical realms would find their expression in Rechter's unique talent for composing, arranging, and performing classical and contemporary music for children and adults alike. Injecting elements of classical and jazz music into the Israeli songs he composes, and arranging their rock-inspired rich orchestration, he is responsible for a large number of musical hits. He has collaborated with some of Israel's popular music giants, including Arik Einstein, Yossi Banai, Esther Ofarim, Matti Caspi, Gidi Gov, Yehudit Ravitz, and songwriter Eli Mohar. His long-lived cooperation with the latter began with Rechter's debut solo album (“Intending,” 1979), and continued through his second (“Eye Level,” 1986), third (“Thoughts and Options,” 1995), and fourth (‟Another Story,ˮ 2002) solo albums. His latest solo album, "Around Us," was released in 2017, with songs he composed over a decade. Other albums include several live performances and collections, and he has also participated in other artists' albums.

Rechter's distinctive creative pieces also include the composition of works of Israeli poets (Avraham Halfi, Dalia Ravikovitch, Yehuda Amichai, and others), popular music, children songs, opera, and jazz. His original works and arrangements were performed by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Israeli Opera, accompanied dance performances, as well as many theatrical plays.

Rechter's musical achievements were recognized by several prestigious prizes, including the ACUM (Israeli Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) Composer of the Year award (1990), Lifetime Achievement Award (1992), and Award for Special Contribution to Works for Children (2014). He was awarded the Holon Theatre Prize (2003), the EMET Prize for his contribution to Israeli music (2008), received an honorary doctorate from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2009), and won the 2011 Israeli Theatre Prize for Best Music Composer for ‟Private Investigator” by the Khan Theatre.