Matti Caspi celebrates his 60th year

By JACK TONHABEN
November 30, 2009 07:11

Matti Caspi celebrates 6

2 minute read.



Matti Caspi 248.88

Matti Caspi 248.88. (photo credit: Courtesy )

Israeli musician Matti Caspi celebrates his 60th birthday on Monday. Born in Kibbutz Hanita in the Western Galilee, the composer-perfomer studied piano in the Nahariya conservatory as a child. He joined the IDF's Southern Command band during his military service. Caspi made his name in the late 1960s and early 1970s, even writing his early hits while still serving in the IDF. He collaborated on a two-sided single with Shlomo Gronich in 1971, and their cooperation continued into the record Me'ahorei Hatzlilim (Behind the Sounds) in 1973. The two revisited the concept in 1984 and again in 2002. During the Yom Kippur War, Caspi performed for troops with other Israeli artists, and in some performances was joined by Canadian troubadour Leonard Cohen. He finally released his first full solo album in 1974. Caspi composed all the songs on the album, sang all the vocals and played all instruments. While he enlisted several noted musicians for some of the songs on his second album, in others he again performed all instrumental and vocal parts. Caspi sings in a soft tenor voice, often utilizing falsetto and is easily recognizable by a natural, quick vibrato which has become his sonic signature. In a Yediot Aharonot poll from 2008, Caspi's second album (titled simply Matti Caspi, like his first) was chosen as the most important Israeli album of the 1970s. In the 1980s Caspi's star began to fade among both critics and the audience, but he remains appreciated as one of Israel's masters of pop music and is highly regarded by fellow musicians as an all-around virtuoso in both composition and performance. Drawing on a wide range of genres, including classical, Latin, bossa nova and even gypsy music, Caspi's corpus contains nearly 1,000 songs, written for his own records and for other performers. Caspi was deeply influenced by Alexander (Sacha) Argov and has recorded two albums in tribute to his music; Argov collaborated with him on the second of those. Hebrew University Musicology Prof. Ruth Katz is rumored to have told her students in the 1980s to learn harmony "from the chorales of Johann Sebastian Bach and from Matti Caspi." Caspi is also noted as an expert arranger, working for many Israeli musicians and also arranging his music for a full symphonic orchestra. In his album Side A/Side B musicians from the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra played the orchestral parts. Caspi was caught in a legal entanglement when he began an affair with Rachel Wagner - a musician with whom he was working - after separating from his first wife Doreen in 1990. He married Wagner before legally divorcing Doreen, and was accused of bigamy. Caspi and his second wife then moved to the United States, returning to Israel only in 1997.


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