1939-2013 |

Israeli Music Legend Arik Einstein Dies at Age 74

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Ido Efrati
Dafna Arad
Ben Shalev

Legendary Israeli singer Arik Einstein died late Tuesday after being hospitalized in critical condition earlier in the evening.

Einstein, 74, was evacuated from his home to the emergency unit at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. Upon admittance, he was anaesthetized and transferred to the operating room, suffering an aortic aneurysm (hemorrhage of a major artery.)

Hospital director Professor Gabi Barabash told the press just after 11 P.M. that he had pronounced the singer's death half an hour before. Both the director of the cardiac surgery department and the director of the vascular department tried to revive him, but unfortunately we were unsuccessful, Barabash said.

A singer, songwriter and actor, Einstein occupied an unparalleled place in the history of Israeli music. He was considered the godfather of the new generation of Israeli music that emerged in the 60s, serving as a link between Israel's tradition of folk music and the emergence of rock-n-roll.

"He knows how to be inside the song in an absolute way, while somehow, at the same time, standing outside of it at a distance, as an observer," poet Eli Mohar said once.

Einstein also played a major role in identifying and promoting local talent. Many unknown, or semi-unknown figures who went on to define modern Israeli music - Such as Yankele Rotblit, Shalom Hanoch, Miki Gavrielov, Yoni Rechter, Shem-tov Levy, and Itzhak Klepter - won his support early on.

Back to the limelight

Just a day before his hospitalization, it was reported that Einstein was to commence writing a weekly personal column in the weekend supplement of the Israeli daily Maariv. The announcement surprised many, for the singer was well known for rarely playing ball with media, and had not performed on the public stage for many years.

"I was offered to write a Friday column, and I said yes," Einstein said. "I hope I'll enjoy it, and I hope I'll have what to say – no preaching or provocation, that does not interest me... May we never be bored."

In an interview he granted to Merav Michaeli last year, he was asked: "Aren't you tired of being constantly asked, well, when are you going to return to the stage?"

"Sure, it's exhausting," Einstein responded, "but I'm not asked any more. I always respond with the same joke: 'I have a note from my doctor.' It has turned into this issue, me staying inside my home- it is just much simpler, there are things one can do, things in line with one's character, that one is built for- and there are things that one can't. I wish I could take a guitar, get in front of the 20,000 people and scream and enjoy myself and dance. But that's not in my character, so I can't.

"Until age 40-something I performed, but it was difficult. And in a way, this might sound absurd, but it was all a bit embarrassing for me. This thing where they say your name and you get out there, and are looked at"

'But didn't you also take pleasure from it?'

''Sometimes I did, but in general it was too much, I would get too stressed. It would put me into states of unhealthy stress. I don't know what to attribute that too, shyness perhaps - they always say I'm shy, I don't know. It's embarrassing, I'm embarrassed to be placed at the center of things. "

Arik Einstein.
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Arik Einstein, left, and actor Moni Moshonov in the film Kvalim in 1992.
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Arik Einstein, left, with Dafna Armoni and Shalom Hanoch in 1979.Credit: Ya'akov Sa'ar
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Arik Einstein.