The first musical experience that Rachel Galinne recalls occurred when she was five. "I heard on the radio Mozart's Variations on the children's song 'Ah! Vous dirai-je, Maman'. The work left such an impression on me and a strong desire to understand the connection between the various variations that I just had to write such a work myself…" From then on she continuously asked her parents to send her to music lessons and only four years later was her request granted. She began studying the piano and merely three months later Rachel Galinne, then Gluchowicz, appeared in two local papers, which reported the playing of "a young pupil" at the graduation concert of piano teacher Greta Westfeld.
Rachel Galinne in a piano recital in honor of Israel's Independence Day, the Jewish community of Stockholm, Sweden, the 60's
She continued her piano studies with Prof. G. Boon, a disciple of Arthur Schnabel. Galinne, who wished to study piano and composition at the Stockholm Academy of Music, had to compromise on musicology studies alongside film and education, at her parents' request, who wished to secure her professional and financial future. The lack of Swedish female composers at the time was an additional setback.
Galinne studied for her first degree in Semitic languages, specializing in Hebrew at Uppsala University, graduating in 1974. A year later she immigrated to Israel and fulfilled her childhood dream by studying harmony, counterpoint and composition at the Rubin Academy of Music at Tel Aviv University. There she completed her first and second degrees in composition with composer Leon Schidlowsky, harmony with composer and theoretician Yitzhak Sadai, counterpoint with composer and theoretician Joseph Dorfman and score reading with composer Mordecai Seter. In 1980 she took part in a composition course in France under Witold Lutosławski and in 1984 participated in a prestigious seminar of contemporary music in Darmstadt. Her first works that gained recognition were written in the 80's, while studying with Leon Schidlowsky. These were : Islossning – Breaking the Bonds of Ice, for two pianos and percussion and Cycles for Orchestra.
Rachel Galinne has composed ca. 40 works, including two symphonies, four additional works for orchestra, vocal music, chamber music and works for solo instruments.
Most of her works were printed and published by IMI (Israel Music Institute) and Israel Music Center and many of them were performed in Israel, Europe and the USA by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony, the Musica Nova Ensemble, the Israel Contemporary Players and by the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Swedish Radio Choir, the Maros Ensemble (Sweden), the Brooklyn Philharmonic and the Ecco Ensemble (Berlin), under the baton of conductors such as Gary Bertini, Theodor Guschlbauer, Renato Rivolta and others. In 2003 an entire concert in Mainz, Germany was dedicated to Galinne's compositions. Since, her creative activity has been supported by the Anni Eisler Lehmann Stiftung Mainz. In recent years her compositions have been performed regularly in Germany.
In 2004 a chamber concert series of her works was performed and recorded in Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa, also supported by the above Foundation. In 2006-2007 her works were performed in Mainz and Düsseldorf, and in 2009 the composer's 60th birthday was celebrated in concerts and festive radio broadcasts in Israel and Sweden.
Rachel Galinne's first CD, Uneginotai Nenagen – And We Shall Sing My Songs of Praise (Catalogue record)
, was published in 1999, in collaboration with Swedish Radio. A chamber concert series of her works, held in 2004, was released that year on the CD "Rachel Galinne: Prisms
" (Catalogue record)
. In 2008 her third CD was released, "I will Walk in the Land of the Living
" (catalogue record)
and in 2011 a special project, "A Voice Crieth in the Wilderness
" (catalogue record)
took place, which featured several concerts in Israel and Sweden, including works by Galinne. Following this project, her fourth CD was released, named after the project. Among the prominent performers of her works are pianists Sarah Fuxon-Heyman (1932-1992), Michal Tal, Ofra Yitzhaki; alto Mira Zakai; soprano Rona Israel-Kolatt; Swedish violinist Semmy Stahlhammer; Jewish-German oboist Matthew Peaceman (1956-2008) and many others.
Rachel Galinne has won many awards. In 1990, her work Islossning – Breaking the Bonds of Ice
represented Israel at the Rostrum Competition in Paris. In 1994 Rachel Galinne received the Prime Minister's Prize. That year her choral work And We Shall Sing My Songs of Praise
won the ACUM Prize and was recorded a year later by the Swedish Radio Choir. In 1996 her First Symphony
reached the final stage of the 60th anniversary competition of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1993, her work Cycles
, premiered in 1992 by the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Gary Bertini, received a commendation in the annual Vienna Modern Masters Competition in Vienna, and in 1996 was premiered by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in Israel. In 1986 Galinne was a juror at the Lieberson Prize Contest, and for many years she was a member of the Trustee Committee of the Prime Minister Prize for Composers.
In Galinne's stylistic development, we can observe two main stages common to composers of her generations and even of former ones: the first stage is of a European modernist style and the second is a post-modern style, which combines several styles in one work; "A 'pan-tonal' language", as Galinne puts it, "In which all existing styles find their place in a new unity".
Rachel Galinne receiving the Prime Minister's Prize for Composers from Aharon Yadlin, Chairman of the Board of Governors for the Prime Minister's Prize, 1994
Judaism was always an inseparable part of Rachel Galinne's identity as a composer, and most of her text settings originate from the Bible. The only modern secular texts she used were written by Else Lasker-Schüler (in the song cycle Schwarze Gesänge – Dark Songs
and by Nelly Sachs ("O die Schornsteine – Oh the Chimneys"), in the Hebrew translation in her work Nation Shall Not Lift Up Sword Against Nation
. Both poetesses were of Jewish-German origins and both fled the Nazis – Lasker-Schüler to Palestine and Nelly Sachs to Sweden.
Through her music Rachel Galinne identifies herself not only as an Israeli with a Swedish background, but also as a composer of a Jewish identity, who experiences the cultural and historic tradition of the Jewish people. Galinne says, "I receive the inspiration for my works from the great intellectual tradition of the Jews who contributed to European culture and history, such as Gustav Mahler and Arnold Schoenberg". Galinne's works often express an almost messianic belief in the coming of peace and justice for Israel and the world, "despite the tragic element in contemporary Jewish-Israeli history".
In recent years we have witnessed additional elements in Rachel Galinne's musical language: one of them is "a continuous process of clarity and transparency", which stems from her affinity to religion, mysticism and Jewish faith (Sonata no. 1 for violin and piano, Sonata of Light
), while the other new component is influenced by Jazz music (Sonata no. 2 for violin and piano, A Voice Crieth in the Wilderness
In 2011 the archive
of her works (documents, recording, scores, etc.) was transferred to the Music Department of the National Library in Jerusalem. The inauguration of this archive was accompanied by a concert
of the composer's works at the Library.