Bereshit – Genesis (1998)

"Bereshit" was commissioned by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra for the festive concert celebrating Israel's 50th anniversary in 1998. I felt I was required to say something that should summarize a period pf time which is very brief yet most significant in the history of our people.

Our masters asked: why does the Bible begin with the Hebrew letter Beth (in Hebrew: "Bereshit=Gebesis) and not the letter Aleph?, and answered: because the letter Aleph in Hebrew is open to all directions and the letter Beth is closed to the past and open only to the future. I really liked this interpretation and in some ways tried to adopt it in this work.

Genesis, a through-composed work, is divided into six separate events analogous to the six days of the creation, but here the resemblance ends. There is no intention of a sequence of events like in the bible, i.e., the story of each day of creation is not told here, but instead there are six diverse feelings that emerge in me upon reading the first chapter. Theses are as follows:

  1. Evocation – Awakening.
  2. Darkness – Mystical fanfare.
  3. Chaos – a kind of scherzo.
  4. Light.
  5. And God saw that it was good.
  6. The great sadness at the end of the creation.

For those who like symbols and signs, one can say that the number of the chapters in the book of genesis (50) is the same as the age of the State of Israel at the time of the composition.

Noam Sheriff