Text size

Conductor and Israel Prize laureate Mendi Rodan died of cancer yesterday. He was 80.

Rodan, who as recently as February was conducting a concert series with the Israel Camerata Orchestra, is survived by his wife, two sons and their children.

Among his many achievements, Rodan was awarded the Medal of Distinction of the Republic of Italy by the Italian president. In addition to appearing frequently as conductor of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and serving as associate conductor from 1993 to 1997, Rodan presided over the Israel Broadcasting Authority orchestra. He was music director and principal conductor of the Israel Sinfonietta Be'er Sheva from 1971 to 1992, music director and permanent conductor of the Belgium National Orchestra in Brussels from 1983 to 1989, and music director and chief conductor of the Israel Symphony Orchestra-Rishon Letzion.

Rodan was born in 1929 in Yassi, Romania. After his father was killed in a pogrom in 1941, the family moved to Bucharest, where Rodan studied mechanical engineering and music. At age 16 he became first violinist of Romania's national radio, and at 24 he became its conductor. In 1960, Rodan moved to Israel.

"I was not bad at all on the violin," Rodan told Haaretz in a interview after he received the Israel Prize in 2006. However, he added, one day in 1953, the year he married, he decided to try conducting and never looked back.

Rodan taught conducting at the Rubin Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem, which he later headed from 1984 to 1993. When Haaretz asked about his famed ability to pinpoint any musician who was off-key, Rodan responded: "Without boasting, it's true. When I conducted the Philharmonic for the first time, veteran musicians told me ... and I took it as a compliment ... 'You see what you're not supposed to see and hear what you're not supposed to hear.'"