Ofer Ben-Amots

Ofer Ben-Amots
Background information
Native name עופר בן-אמוץ
Born (1955-10-20) October 20, 1955
Haifa, Israel
Occupation(s) Composer
Instruments Piano
Website www.oferbenamots.com

Ofer Ben-Amots (Hebrew: עופר בן-אמוץ; born October 20, 1955) is an Israeli-American composer and teacher of music composition and theory at Colorado College. His music is inspired by Jewish folklore of Eastern-European Yiddish and Judeo-Spanish Ladino traditions. The interweaving of folk elements with contemporary textures creates the dynamic tension that permeates and defines Ben-Amots’ musical language.[1]


Born in Haifa, Israel, Ofer Ben-Amots gave his first piano concert at age nine and at age sixteen was awarded first prize in the Chet Piano Competition. Later, following composition studies with Joseph Dorfman at Tel Aviv University, he was invited to study at the Conservatoire de Musique in Geneva, Switzerland. There he studied with Pierre Wismer and privately with Alberto Ginastera. Ben-Amots is an alumnus of the Hochschule für Musik in Detmold, Germany, where he studied with Martin C. Redel and Dietrich Manicke and graduated with degrees in composition, music theory, and piano. Upon his arrival in the United States in 1987, Ben-Amots studied with George Crumb[2] at the University of Pennsylvania where he received his Ph.D. in music composition. Currently on the faculty of Colorado College, Ben-Amots is a Professor of music composition and theory.[3] In addition, Ben-Amots is a member of the Advisory Board and the Editorial Board of the Milken Archive of American-Jewish Music [4] and is a Jerusalem Fellow of the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity. In 1997, he became the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity's Artistic Director for North America.[5]

Ben-Amots' music has been published by Kallisti Music Press, Muramatsu Inc., Dorn, Tara Publications, and the Composer's Own Press. It can be heard on Naxos Records,[6] Vantage, Plæne, Stylton, and Music Sources recording labels.


Ofer Ben-Amots was the winner of the 1994 Vienna International Competition for Composers with his comic opera, Fool's Paradise (opera).[7] The chamber opera is based on a short story by Isaac Bashevis Singer. Though short, the story includes a rich scope of important life experiences such as childhood and adolescence, love, death, resurrection. Interestingly, Ben-Amots did not write the opera with a traditional adult audience in mind. Instead, he looked to inspire and excite children's imaginations.[8] To do so, he argues, one must use "clear simple language and allow for some mystery and magic".[9] To allow for such mystery and magic, Ben-Amots assigned one instrument or group of instruments to each of the seven characters in the opera. However, the instrumentation and story can be appreciated, admired, and enjoyed by adults as well. Because there is such a wide range of instruments used for this opera, a regular symphonic orchestra is not needed. Thus, it is up to the soloist to portray important feelings as well as demonstrate the ability of their instrument. Finally, the message of the story is simply that life is always better than death—that Paradise exists only on earth. Ben-Amots argues that this is an important lesson for both children and adults.[10] Fool's Paradise was premiered in Vienna and subsequently became part of the 1994/95 season of Opernhaus Zürich.[11]

Ben-Amots' Avis Urbanus for amplified flute was awarded First Prize at the 1991 Kobe International Competition for Flute Composition in Japan, and was then a required composition at the 1993 Kobe Flute Competition. In 1999, Ben-Amots was awarded the Aaron Copland Award and the Music Composition Artist Fellowship by the Colorado Council on the Arts. In 2004 he won the Festiladino,[12] an international contest for Judeo-Spanish songs, a part of the Israel Festival in Jerusalem.



Stage music

Voice and orchestra

Orchestra music

Choir and instruments

Choir a cappella

Vocal chamber music

Instrumental chamber music

Piano and organ solo

Other solo instruments

Orchestral arrangements


  1. McMurtery, John. "Extended Techniques for Flute: Polyphonic Techniques". This example, from Ofer Ben-Amots’ Avis Urbanus, contains a unique use of singing and playing. The flutist sustains a single note, while singing the highest pitch possible for the voice and bending the pitch downward.
  2. Bruns, Steven; Ben-Amots, Ofer, eds. (2005). George Crumb and the Alchemy of Sound: Essays on His Music. Colorado College Music Press. p. 360. ISBN 978-0-935052-07-7.
  3. The Colorado College Music Faculty
  4. The Milken Archive Editorial Board and Staff
  5. CJCC Leadership
  6. Biography on Naxos Records' site
  7. About the opera Fool's Paradise
  8. http://home.bway.net/hartung/foo.html
  9. http://home.bway.net/hartung/foo.html
  10. http://home.bway.net/hartung/foo.html
  11. Hofmann, Paul (November 27, 1994). "WHAT'S DOING IN; Zurich". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-23.
  12. Festiladino 2004
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