Israel Phil breaks Shabbat for Martha Argerich recital

The Israel Philharmonic took the unusual – possibly unprecedented – step of organising a concert on Friday night, traditionally the day of rest for the Jewish people.

The concert was a recital for four-hand piano by Martha Argerich, who is presently in residence with the orchestra, and its incoming music director Lahav Shani.

The recital began at 9pm at Heichal Hatarbut, home of the Israel Philharmonic.

It included Prokofiev’s first symphony, arranged for four hands.

Here’s the programme.

The encores included selections from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky and Khachaturian’s Masquerade.


As a representative state-funded institution with a number of religiously observant employees, the Israel Phil has a general rule of avoiding performances on rest days and holy days.

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  • The slippery slope. Sad that Israel is doing this. First, the recent introduction of buses on shabbat and now light entertainment.

    • Sad? I say ‘finally’. People who don’t own a car can finally have the freedom they deserve to travel on Saturdays.

  • So of she’s in residence, why did she have to play on a day of rest?

    Isn’t she Jewish herself? Why would she disrespect the practices of the more observant?

    • The maternal grandparents of Marta Argerich were Jewish immigrants from the Russian Empire. So she should have at least some understanding of Jewish practices. But what else can we assume or criticize without inside knowledge of how the decision was made?

    • Why is it disrespectful if you don’t want to join the religious practises of other people?

      I am sorry, but I find this claim “disrespectful”.

  • It is neither first time nor last time the IPO breaks Shabbat.

    All chamber music concerts take place on Shabbat


    • Hardly anyone recalls today that when Tel-Aviv was founded, it had a municipal law that forbade building synagogues (it was envisaged in 1906 as a “Hebrew urban centre in a healthy environment, planned according to the rules of aesthetics and modern hygiene”.) This law was soon ignored and forgotten.

      Coming full circle to 2004: A City Without a Prayer:

      I grew up in Tel-Aviv. If you wanted religion you would go to Jerusalem.

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