Prof. Joachim Braun (Emeritus)
Passed away on 6.6.2013
Braun, Joachim (Riga, 11 August 1929 - Jerusalem, 6 June 2013).
Israeli musicologist of Latvian-Jewish origin. Family banished to Siberia in 1941 and reunited in 1955. Braun was educated at the Latvian State Conservatory (1949-53, MA cum laude) and at the Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatory (1953-60) where he gained the doctorate with a dissertation on violin art development (published as book The Violin Art in Latvia, 1964) studying with Lev Ginzburg (history of musical instruments and performing practices) and Dmitry Tsiganov (violin). His career began as violinist and violin teacher (among pupils Oleg Kagan) at the Riga Darzin Music School, but his interests early tern to musicology. In Riga he published on the history and methods of violin playing (Methods of Violin Playing, 1968) and the history of Baltic music, and was active as a music critic. When in 1969 he and his wife with daughter applied for an exit visa to Israel he was dismissed from teaching at the School of Music, expelled from the USSR Composer Union and forbidden to publish.
In 1972 he immigrated to Israel and joined the Musicology Department of Bar-Ilan University, becoming Assistant Professor (1978), Professor of Music (1987), and later Head of Department (1992). He was made Professor Emeritus in 1997. Braun has been visiting professor at universities worldwide, including Indiana-Bloomington (1981), Hamburg U (1984), Innsbruck U (1987), Florida SU (1991), Halle U (1996) and Luzerne U (1998). He was appointed chair of the National Israel RILM Committee (1991-2005).
His writings have focused on sociology and hermeneutics, archaeology and iconography of music, Baltic and Jewish music and music of ancient Israel/Palestine.
His book Die Musikkultur Altisraels/Palaestinas (1998; English translation 2002) is considered to be a "classical contribution to the study of music… in a region that has uniquely influenced the Judeo-Christian world" (Carol Meyers, Notes, June 2003).
Braun has published twelve books, more than 80 articles, some 250 reviews, and was editor of several publications. Using a comprehensive interdisciplinary approach to the study of ancient musical cultures, he was the first to study Baltic pre-literate music, and toconsider archaeology as the primary source for the investigation of the musical culture of ancient Israel/Palestine.
He has developed a theory of semantics of music in totalitarian systems of the 20th century, in particular in the work of Dmitri Shostakovich's and the composers of the former Baltic Soviet Republics.
For his contribution to Latvian musicology he was made in 2003 Officer of the Three-Star Order.