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Personal Biography

Ami was born in Tel Aviv, in 1928, while Palestine was under British mandate. Ami and his grandmother
His parents were children of "Pioneers," families that fled the pogroms of eastern Europe to walk overland, sail, or ride horseback to the promised land.

The Solanges, his father's family, and the Reitmans, his mother's family, responded with fervor and faith to the tales told at shtetl firesides by traveling Zionists.

Ami at age fiveAccording to family lore, Ami was 4 or 5 when he came home from a cinema, walked into a neighbor's apartment, and quietly began to pick out the melody of the movie's theme song on their piano. Within a year or two his parents were convinced that a long musical family heritage was finding expression in Ami. They bought a piano for him which became the focal point of their Haifa apartment and Ami's childhood. He practiced for many hours every day, eventually traveling to Tel Aviv by train to study with the finest piano teachers in the country.

When Ami was old enough to go to high school, he qualified to attend both the Reali high school and the Technion (College) in Haifa.; the Technion is a college for students especially gifted in math or science. Meanwhile he continued his advanced piano studies.

In 1945, Ami set off to study music/piano in the United States. His mother's brother, Louis Reitman -who was impressed with Ami's talent -sponsored the trip. Ami studied musical theory, composition and conducting at Los Angeles City College. There he met his future wife, JoRaela Feinblatt, who was an accomplished voice student and member of the Roger Wagner Chorale. He was then accepted to Juilliard and moved to New York to pursue advanced piano studies. Ami and JoRaela were married in New York in 1949 and his eldest son David and daughter Dori were born by the time Ami was 23 years old.

In 1953, JoRaela was killed in a tragic auto accident and Ami became a single parent and widower. Residing in Los Angeles, he began to discover a life beyond that of a piano soloist. He became a piano teacher, performed in jazz clubs and improvised accompaniment for two of LA's most noted dance companies: Bella Lewitzky and Gloria Newman (the former Martha Graham dancer). For a time he sold pianos at the famous David Abell showroom, and was the American representative for Bosendoeffer pianos. In 1959 he married Joanne Johnson.

Ami's first job as a composer came from his old friend Francine Parker in 1964. Together they wrote the script for a television show on CBS about life in the shtetl called, "Like A Golden Thread." Ami composed original music which he combined with traditional tunes for the score. His third child, Daniel, was born this same year.

In 1966 he was asked by his friend Sam Fordis, Cantor and musical director at Valley Beth Shalom synagogue, to accompany services there.

A battle against Hodgkin's Lymphoma two years later spurred Ami to reflect on the course of his life. He came to believe that his calling , his passion, lay in composing. This was a very complex commitment for Ami. When he was five he had considered this career and decided that, "I couldn't be Mozart, so what was the point?" However, at age forty things evidently looked different. He gradually quit teaching and focused his talent on writing music.

In 1970 Cantor Fordis commissioned Ami to compose music for a Chassidic service. About this same time, Ami was studying musical theater with the famous Lehman Engels, in the ASCAP sponsored workshops. This was the foundation of a very prolific 30 years of collaborating with lyricists and book writers: Norman Cohen, Jim Ploss, Arlene and Lennie Stadd and Ellen Fitzhugh, among others. Composing for the musical theater became a passion.


Meanwhile, Ami became music and choir director at Valley Beth Shalom, in 1977. In this position, he worked with the VBS choir to premiere his new liturgical works and to help him refine ideas and themes. It was a collaboration of composer and performers that proved nurturing and inspiring. As a result of this symbiosis, the volunteer choir at VBS became one of the finest in America. His world renowned Hallel service, the Torah Service, a multitude of compositions for Shabbat, and High Holidays, and Yizkor service sprang from this key period in his composing. Cantors and choirs around the world have been singing these compositions as part of their regular repertoire ever since.

At this same time, Ami was also experiencing a burgeoning career as a television composer.

In 1982 Ami met his third wife Nicole Cottrell. In 1990 they moved to Laguna Beach, California. Living overlooking the ocean was a source of continual joy and inspiration for him. Another facet of his creativity was expressed in architecture. Ami redesigned the Laguna home with the same unique artistry that he displayed as a composer. He created a great room, in which rehearsals and performances could take place, and a recording studio. His daughter Dori, an *migr* to Israel, and her children were regular visitors, along with sons David and Daniel.


Ami was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in 1994, a virtually incurable form of cancer. Shortly after this news, while he was critically ill, Ami received a commission from the ACC-GTM for a "ReFaenu". Ami wrote this piece as his weakened state allowed *one note, 2 minutes, at a time. The powerful beauty of this song stems from the melody, driven by a haunting rhythm echoing the heartbeat of an ailing soul.

Miraculously, from that day until his death five years later, Ami continued to write more prolifically than at any other time in his life. It was clear that he was racing to record the music within. From 1994, until his death in 1999, Ami was commissioned to write (and completed): Songs From Home (a Friday night service in the Israeli style), T'amei Sephard (a Friday night service in the Sephardic/Spanish style), Mussaf l'shabbat (for a shabbat morning), a complete Slichot Service, Kedusha for High Holiday, Passages and many more. Ultimately Ami's career was to produce hundreds of Jewish compositions, including many complete services, songs and prayers, commissioned by synagogues, cantors and individuals around the world, and nine complete musicals, several on Biblical themes.

The Aminadav Aloni Music Foundation has been established to gather and publish the vast treasure of Ami's repertoire, to ensure that his musical legacy lives on to bring joy and enrichment to future generations. As Rabbi Harold Schulweis expressed it, "Ami's immortality of influence is inextricably bound up with his music, music that has already penetrated the life of many synagogues and which is destined to inspire future generations. His contribution to American musical theater may prove to be equally profound. Immortality requires a respectful community and all our lives are entwined with that sacred goal."

Aminadav is survived by his wife Nicole, his sons David and Daniel, his daughter and son-in-law Dori and Noam Meshi, and his grandchildren Joel, Jacob, Adam, Rachel and Naomi Meshi.

by Nicole Aloni, with the assistance of many friends. Feb. 9, 2001

The Solanges, his father's family, and the Reitmans, his mother's family, responded with fervor and faith to the tales told at shtetl firesides by traveling Zionists.

Ami at age fiveAccording to family lore, Ami was 4 or 5 when he came home from a cinema, walked into a neighbor's apartment, and quietly began to pick out the melody of the movie's theme song on their piano. Within a year or two his parents were convinced that a long musical family heritage was finding expression in Ami. They bought a piano for him which became the focal point of their Haifa apartment and Ami's childhood. He practiced for many hours every day, eventually traveling to Tel Aviv by train to study with the finest piano teachers in the country.

When Ami was old enough to go to high school, he qualified to attend both the Reali high school and the Technion (College) in Haifa.; the Technion is a college for students especially gifted in math or science. Meanwhile he continued his advanced piano studies.

In 1945, Ami set off to study music/piano in the United States. His mother's brother, Louis Reitman -who was impressed with Ami's talent -sponsored the trip. Ami studied musical theory, composition and conducting at Los Angeles City College. There he met his future wife, JoRaela Feinblatt, who was an accomplished voice student and member of the Roger Wagner Chorale. He was then accepted to Juilliard and moved to New York to pursue advanced piano studies. Ami and JoRaela were married in New York in 1949 and his eldest son David and daughter Dori were born by the time Ami was 23 years old.

In 1953, JoRaela was killed in a tragic auto accident and Ami became a single parent and widower. Residing in Los Angeles, he began to discover a life beyond that of a piano soloist. He became a piano teacher, performed in jazz clubs and improvised accompaniment for two of LA's most noted dance companies: Bella Lewitzky and Gloria Newman (the former Martha Graham dancer). For a time he sold pianos at the famous David Abell showroom, and was the American representative for Bosendoeffer pianos. In 1959 he married Joanne Johnson.

Ami's first job as a composer came from his old friend Francine Parker in 1964. Together they wrote the script for a television show on CBS about life in the shtetl called, "Like A Golden Thread." Ami composed original music which he combined with traditional tunes for the score. His third child, Daniel, was born this same year.

In 1966 he was asked by his friend Sam Fordis, Cantor and musical director at Valley Beth Shalom synagogue, to accompany services there.

A battle against Hodgkin's Lymphoma two years later spurred Ami to reflect on the course of his life. He came to believe that his calling , his passion, lay in composing. This was a very complex commitment for Ami. When he was five he had considered this career and decided that, "I couldn't be Mozart, so what was the point?" However, at age forty things evidently looked different. He gradually quit teaching and focused his talent on writing music.

In 1970 Cantor Fordis commissioned Ami to compose music for a Chassidic service. About this same time, Ami was studying musical theater with the famous Lehman Engels, in the ASCAP sponsored workshops. This was the foundation of a very prolific 30 years of collaborating with lyricists and book writers: Norman Cohen, Jim Ploss, Arlene and Lennie Stadd and Ellen Fitzhugh, among others. Composing for the musical theater became a passion.


Meanwhile, Ami became music and choir director at Valley Beth Shalom, in 1977. In this position, he worked with the VBS choir to premiere his new liturgical works and to help him refine ideas and themes. It was a collaboration of composer and performers that proved nurturing and inspiring. As a result of this symbiosis, the volunteer choir at VBS became one of the finest in America. His world renowned Hallel service, the Torah Service, a multitude of compositions for Shabbat, and High Holidays, and Yizkor service sprang from this key period in his composing. Cantors and choirs around the world have been singing these compositions as part of their regular repertoire ever since.

At this same time, Ami was also experiencing a burgeoning career as a television composer.

In 1982 Ami met his third wife Nicole Cottrell. In 1990 they moved to Laguna Beach, California. Living overlooking the ocean was a source of continual joy and inspiration for him. Another facet of his creativity was expressed in architecture. Ami redesigned the Laguna home with the same unique artistry that he displayed as a composer. He created a great room, in which rehearsals and performances could take place, and a recording studio. His daughter Dori, an *migr* to Israel, and her children were regular visitors, along with sons David and Daniel.


Ami was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in 1994, a virtually incurable form of cancer. Shortly after this news, while he was critically ill, Ami received a commission from the ACC-GTM for a "ReFaenu". Ami wrote this piece as his weakened state allowed *one note, 2 minutes, at a time. The powerful beauty of this song stems from the melody, driven by a haunting rhythm echoing the heartbeat of an ailing soul.

Miraculously, from that day until his death five years later, Ami continued to write more prolifically than at any other time in his life. It was clear that he was racing to record the music within. From 1994, until his death in 1999, Ami was commissioned to write (and completed): Songs From Home (a Friday night service in the Israeli style), T'amei Sephard (a Friday night service in the Sephardic/Spanish style), Mussaf l'shabbat (for a shabbat morning), a complete Slichot Service, Kedusha for High Holiday, Passages and many more. Ultimately Ami's career was to produce hundreds of Jewish compositions, including many complete services, songs and prayers, commissioned by synagogues, cantors and individuals around the world, and nine complete musicals, several on Biblical themes.

The Aminadav Aloni Music Foundation has been established to gather and publish the vast treasure of Ami's repertoire, to ensure that his musical legacy lives on to bring joy and enrichment to future generations. As Rabbi Harold Schulweis expressed it, "Ami's immortality of influence is inextricably bound up with his music, music that has already penetrated the life of many synagogues and which is destined to inspire future generations. His contribution to American musical theater may prove to be equally profound. Immortality requires a respectful community and all our lives are entwined with that sacred goal."

Aminadav is survived by his wife Nicole, his sons David and Daniel, his daughter and son-in-law Dori and Noam Meshi, and his grandchildren Joel, Jacob, Adam, Rachel and Naomi Meshi.

by Nicole Aloni, with the assistance of many friends. Feb. 9, 2001

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