A legendary bassoon dies at 97

A legendary bassoon dies at 97


norman lebrecht

May 28, 2023

The vastly influential bassoonist Mordechai Rechtman died yesterday in a Tel Aviv hospital at an advanced age.

A child refugee from Hitler’s Germany, Rechtman was principal bassoon of the Israel Philharmonic from 1946 to 1991. He was part of a chamber ensemble that played the national anthem at the Declaration of Independence in 1948.

As professor at Tel Aviv, the University of Indiana and elsewhere, he taught many of leading performers on his instrument. He also made numerous arrangements for it.


  • Schlomo says:

    What a great honour to have played the Hatikvah at the birth of the State of Israel,

  • Uzi Shalev says:

    At Mordechai Rechtman’s 95th birthday, he stood and conducted a one hour concert of his J. S. Bach arrangements, for 10 winds and a contrabass. Before the concert, I congratulated Mordechai as follows:
    Today, we celebrate Mordechai Rechtman’s 95th birthday in a festive concert.
    Mordechai, is not only a glorious bassoon player, the principal bassoonist of the Israel Philharmonic for 44 years, who garnered praise from the audience, great conductors and music critics.
    He is not only “The last of the Mohicans”, who was privileged to be present and play “HaTikva” at the proclamation ceremony of the state of Israel, today, 73 years ago.
    He is not only a professor at the Buchman-Mehta School of Music at Tel Aviv University for 36 years, who founded a wonderful school of many bassoon players, in Israel and around the world.
    He is not only the teacher of many wind instruments’ players, on both woodwinds and brass instruments and of many string players. One of the senior influencers for the fact, that Israel is today a power of woodwinds.
    He is also a wonderful arranger, who has published in his life, in print, about 250 arrangements of works by the best composers: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and many others, thus enriching the repertoire of wind instruments, large ensembles for winds, trios and other ensembles, with excellent music of the best quality.
    He is also an acclaimed conductor of wind instruments ensembles and of orchestras.

    For us, his students, Mordechai is a “walking wonder.” At 95, he continues to arrange, teach and maintain his characteristic enthusiasm.
    On behalf of all the fine musicians who have gathered here, I want to say thank you, Mordechai, for who and what you are – for your students, for the State of Israel and for musicians all over the world.
    An unfailing source of inspiration and wonder.
    Happy birthday, Mordechai !!!
    May we and the dear audience continue to enjoy your sounds for many years to come !!!

  • Ole Dahl says:

    Thank You for acknowledging this great Musicians importance

  • Daniel Reiss says:

    Mordecai Rechtman was a wonderful person. Once I sent him an email to say that I liked his wind quintet version of the first movement of Verdi’s Quartet better than the original and he phoned me back to say that the complete transcription was already in circulation. Just a couple of months ago I heard the premiere of his version of Brahms’s Handel Variations, another miracle of recreation. If you haven’t heard it yet, you have a treat in store! Of course his Bach recreations are well known and loved. A long life, lived to the hilt. His memory is an eternal blessing.

  • Ruben Greenberg says:

    Greatly admired by conductors such as Celibidache, Inbal and Bernstein. His arrangements will continue to be played for a long time to come. Rest in peace.

  • Nick says:

    He touched so many lives. An incredible career as a teacher and performer. Legends never die. RIP

  • trumpetherald says:

    And he also was a professional chess player!

    • Hugo Preuß says:

      Apparently, he once drew a correspondence match with Samuel Reshevsky 4:4! Amazing achievement! His over the board rating, though, was not as great… But still!