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Israeli conductor and musician Gary Bertini died yesterday at the age of 77, following a long illness.

Bertini was hospitalized in Paris several weeks ago, and was transferred to Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer two weeks ago. He will be laid to rest in Kfar Vitkin.

Bertini, a 1987 Israel Prize laureate, was an influential figure in the history of music in Israel. He established the Rinat choir in the 1950s, exposing Israeli audiences for the first time to quality vocal performances of classical music. The choir's concerts also introduced Israeli audiences to early music.

Later, Bertini established the Chamber Ensemble, which modernized and expanded the country's repertoire of mainstream concert programming.

Bertini's mother was a doctor and biologist, and his father was poet and translator K.A. Bertini. Born in Bessarabia, in eastern Europe, in 1928, he immigrated to Israel in 1947. He studied music in Italy, Tel Aviv and the Paris Conservatoire.

After returning from France, Bertini also composed music for theater productions, films and dance performances.