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The Five Hebrew Love Songs

February 22, 2008 at 3:44 am UTC

These songs are just so near to my heart…

I’m often asked about the pronunciation of the Hebrew, and while I can pretty convincingly fake my way through these gorgeous poems, it ain’t pretty. So I thought I’d go directly to the source and have the poet, Hila Plitmann (aka my awesome wife), recite them:

Here is the actual Hebrew, handwritten by Hila. (I also get a lot of requests for this).

The Five Hebrew Love Songs (Hebrew, in the poet’s own hand).

And I’m happy to announce (finally) the release of the sheet music for the solo voice version, to be released later this year. It will be available with either the violin/piano arrangement or the string quartet arrangement.

And finally, a beautiful performance of the SATB violin/piano version by the Kaohsiung Chamber Choir, a terrific choir from Taiwan. Their Hebrew is astonishingly accurate, and I just adore their musical interpretation:

  • Luke

    Yay! I absolutely love this piece. The way everything fit, and the ending chords in I. and III. seemed so appropriate, even though there was dissonance.

  • Libet Wilfong

    Eric, I just wanted to say that I first encountered your music about 4 years ago, singing 'Lux Aurumque' with my high school choir in Cincinnati, OH. I fell in love with it because of it's beauty, light tones, and true emotional writing. I then came to DePaul University, where I have sung 'A Boy and a Girl,' and now also 'Leonardo…,' and I just want to say that each piece of yours that I sing immediately becomes a favorite. There is so much fantastic writing; the tension/release that happens in your music is absolutely spellbinding. Thank you so much for your contributions to the music world. I hope I get the opportunity to sing more of your work.

  • Brittany Slaughter


    I love your music and I love the performance of the SATB violin/piano version by the Kaohsiung Chamber Choir! I absolutely love your pieces!

    I am an aspiring composer. I am currently in my senior year in high school (Francis Howell High School, St. Charles, MO). Please don't go by my website so much, my father hasn't updated it in 4 years — I was in middle school when he created it (I started writing pieces when I was 12). I have written many pieces since then. I have lately been especially interested in writing Choral pieces.

    I recently saw you in Lawrence, KS and it was absolutely wonderful. I can't wait to see you again! You truly inspire me!

    I have a question I was hoping you could answer. I am looking into Music Composition programs at different Universities. I have applied to and been accepted into programs at University of Kansas (Lawrence KS) Dept of Music and Dance, University of Missouri Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, and Missouri State University Dept of Music. But I'm having a hard time trying to find out which are the music composition programs that would be good to get into. I am particularly interested in compositions for music theatre (I am currently writing pieces for a musical I have thought up) or choral music. Which schools would you recommend?

    I greatly appreciate your advice! And I hope you have a most wonderful day!

    Brittany Slaughter

    PS I was very happy for you and your wife having a child recently

  • Courtney

    Hey Eric!

    Once my computer starts working, I HAVE to see these videos. Too bad I can't now, dang it.
    As for the solo music, I can't WAIT to see it soon! But I bet it'll totally be worth the wait.

    Anywho, I got to go. Thanks for the update!
    YOU RULE!!! Ha-ha

  • athuran

    Hey, Eric,

    I might've forgotten to mention that I actually have my own blog, which is so please feel free to drop by sometime. Thanks!

    Masa Ohtake
    Free State High School
    Lawrence, Kansas

  • Phil Dinovo

    Hey Eric,

    Its funny that I just ran across you commenting on a YouTube video of the Kaohsiung Chamber Choir (particularly this video) as I was adding a few of their videos (including this one) to my "favorites" on YouTube.

    I hope everything is going well with "The Stolen Child" commission and I look forward to seeing you conduct at the Capital University Invitational in just over a week!

  • Creston


    I just had the chance to work with you at Washington State University and I will never forget the experience. One thing I wished I had told you while you were here was that The Five Hebrew Love Songs was the first music I ever had the chance to sing in my high school choir last year. Due to those beautiful pieces I fell in love with choir, I kind of thank you for that.

    Thank you for creating music,

  • Brenda Miles

    Hello Eric;

    Having recently joined a choral group (Corpus Christi Chorale), i first discovered 5 Hebrew Love Songs in January when we began rehearsing it (along with Cloudburst and Animal Crackers) — your description of its origin on the inside of the score moved me to tears…so i really enjoyed this charming video; too bad i discovered it after our concert on the 26th (this past Tuesday), as I had the speaking part of "Eyze Sheleg," I hope i didn't mangle it too badly!…your obvious devotion to your talented & beautiful wife is so inspiring! That said, i wanted to sample for you an email from one of our members who because of laryngitis was on the receiving end of our performance; thought you'd get a kick out of her description of "Cloudburst," – Many Blessings to you and your beautiful family…
    Brenda Miles

    "Dear Musicians

    I think it's appropriate for me to address KUDOS to the membership
    (since I've thus addressed earlier complaints)

    Since I was one of the missing 16 (good heavens!), I had the treat of
    experiencing the program from the audience. I had never been to a CCC
    concert before I joined the group, so I came to the experience fresh.
    What a JOY! The sound was rich and varied. The selections showed
    well, and the soloists' voices were just right. Hebrew Love Songs was
    so lovely and plaintive. I had not heard the selections with
    accompaniment other than piano, so the experience seemed new and rich.

    But I didn't expect to be surprised.

    In practice, 'La Lluvia' had made me a little nervous in spite of
    (maybe because of) the unexpectedness of the harmonies (or
    dissonances) and tempo. I was particularly uncomfortable with the
    idea of everyone putting down scores miscellaneously, raising hands
    and clapping (!!). And mumbling. When we were practicing, I began to
    anticipate some version of chaos.

    By the time you finished the performance, I had tears running down my
    cheeks from shear joy. It was absolutely ELECTRIC. We were on the
    edges of our seats. Pure joy of divine chaos. I knew I liked the
    piece, but I don't think you can imagine how incredibly well IT
    WORKED. The recording can't possibly do it justice, since the visual
    aspect of the performance…putting down the scores (not together),
    clapping, clicking, chanting, bells, percussion, whispering…was an
    integral part of the whole. I didn't want the sound to stop. What a
    terriffic surprise…

  • Eric Granwehr

    The director for the choir in Taiwan is so adorable and just makes me love the pieces even more. (I mean, obviously the person who COMPOSED the pieces is my favorite…. but i gotta give her some credit.) ; )

  • Leah Allen

    Dear Mr. Whitacre,
    I sang the Five Hebrew Love Songs, in my undergrad chorus at the University of Arizona. I am now working on my Masters. I love this songs and would like to present them on my Masters recital next Spring. How soon will the solo arrangement be available and from where. I would like to get them as soon as possible!

    Thank you for your time and concern,
    Leah Allen

  • Abby Schwartz

    I attended your choral festival at Capital University last night (wonderful, by the way, if a little long!). Listening to the Chapel Choir's performance of "Five Hebrew Love Songs" reminded me of how beautiful a piece it is and how much I enjoyed performing it the first time you came to Capital. I was wondering if the original soprano, violin, piano version is available anywhere. I looked on numerous sheet music websites and only came across the choral versions. Thanks so much!

    PS — Make sure next time you come to Capital you tell Lynda you want the Choral Union to sing, too! ;-)

  • Abby Schwartz

    Ha! Guess I should have watched the video before writing. You already answered my question. Thanks!

  • Kevin


    What a great idea to post the pronunciation from the poet herself! Kantorei started rehearsing these pieces recently, and you'll be happy to know that our Hebrew expert studied this video prior to our training! You'll also be happy to know that the video also successfully convinced Dick Larson that "tum" should be prounced "tuhm." Haha. See you May!


  • Aaron

    I love these songs. I sang them my Junior year in high school, the first time I really heard your music. I've loved your music ever since. Heck, I'm listening to them right now.

  • Meir


    The music is so wonderful and I absolutely love the words (I'm a native Hebrew speaker). I sing in a choir in Newton, MA called Newton Choral Society (
    Our March 2009 concert with the Zamir Chorale will include "The Five Hebrew Love Songs".


  • Carl Kinbar

    I have made a PDF of "The Five Hebrew Love Songs" in Hebrew (Davka David), transliteration, and English. If you are interested, it's yours to use, post, or whatever. Just email me and I will be happy to send it to you.

  • Julia Miller
  • Amanda Yorke

    hey! I know this a late response to this blog, but…can I ask where I could find the Solo version of the Hebrew Love songs? I've been looking everywhere. I can't tell you how much I am utterly in love with this cycle. and I've been asked to sing this at a dear friends wedding, and I would love nothing more than to begin learning it, if it is available.This work means alot to her, and hearing me sing it at her wedding would be a huge thing for her. I know your busy, but if you have the opportunity, would you mind letting me know?

    thanks so much. :)

  • Joanna

    Hello, I know this has been asked a lot, and it's been awhile since this page has been put up, but I was wondering where I'd be able to find the 5 Hebrew Love Songs for Solo Soprano, Violin, and Piano. I've been searching the internet and all I've been able to find is SATB or SA. My friends and I would love to preform it one day, and it'd be awesome if you could let me know! I understand you have a lot to do, so whenever you can get back to me, if you can, Id greatly appreciate thank. Thank you!

  • Alex VanderLek

    Thank you both so much for this song. I cannot tell you how many times i have listened to my All State Choir's performance of this song. I quote the 5th poem to my girlfriend all the time and its become our declaration of love for each other. I have even considered getting a tattoo of the text in Hebrew and if that happens I will be sure to send you a picture.

    Thank you again, so very much
    Alex VanderLek

    (PS, is there any chance either one of you 2 or Carl Kinbar could send me the pdf of the lyrics? [email protected])

  • Kristen

    I absolutely love every single one of these! We're singing them this year in Womans Choir at my school (Spring-Ford High School). My favorite is probably Larov. What exactly does it mean though?

  • srportnoff

    Hi Eric,

    Not so long story … received an email last week asking for:

    "pronunciation guide for eric whitacre's five hebrew love songs" can you advise — thx.

    I have a website that sells a talking Hebrew educational software program that I wrote – the software also can create transliterations from Hebrew. As you can imagine, I get a a fair amount of weird requests, but this non-weird one intrigued me. Did a web search and found this page and listened to your very lovely music. Took a look at Hila's PDF, and thought you or she might appreciate an electronic version with Hebrew and transliteration (in unformatted text below). No other way to send the original formatted doc (showing accentuated syllables) to you, so I've posted it at this link – let me know ([email protected]) when you've read this, and I'll remove the link ASAP.

    T'-mu-na b'-li-bi kha-ru-ta
    No-de-det beyn or u-veyn o-fel
    Min d'-ma-ma she-ka-zo et gu-fekh kakh o-ta
    U-s'-a-rekh al pa-na-yikh kakh no-fel

    Ka-la ka-la
    Ku-la she-li
    U-v'-ka-lut ti-shak hi li

    La-rov a-mar gag la-sha-ma-yim
    Ha-mer-khak she-bey-ney-nu hu ad
    Akh lif-ney zman a-lu l'-khan shna-yim
    U-vey-ney-nu nish-ar sen-ti-me-ter e-khad

    Ey-ze she-leg
    Kmo kha-lo-mot k'-ta-nim nof-lim me-ha-sha-ma-yim

    Hu ha-ya ma-ley ra-kut
    Hi hai-ta ka-sha
    V'-khol ka-ma she-nis-ta l'-hi-sha-er kakh
    Pa-shut uv-li si-ba to-va
    La-kakh o-ta el tokh ats-mo
    V'-he-ni-akh b'-ma-kom ha-khi ha-khi rakh

    תְּמוּנָה בְּלִבִּי חֲרוּטָה
    נוֹדֶדֶת בֵּין אוֹר וּבֵין אֹפֶל
    מִן דְּמָמָה שֶּׁכָּזוֹ אֶת גּוּפֵךְ כָּךְ עוֹטָה
    וּשְׂעָרֵךְ עַל פָּנַיִךְ כָּךְ נוֹפֵל

    כַּלָּה קַלָה
    כֻּלָּהּ שֶׁלִּי
    וּבְקַלּוּת תִּשַּׁק הִיא לִי

    לָרֹב אָמַר גַּג לַשָּׁמַיִם
    הַמֶרְחָק שֶׁבֵּינֵינוּ הוּא עַד
    אַךְ לִפְנֵי זְמַן עָלוּ לְכָאן שְׁנַיִם
    וּבֵינֵינוּ נִשְׁאָר סֶנְטִימֶטֶר אֶחָד

    אֵיזֶה שֶׁלֶג
    כְּמוֹ חֲלוֹמוֹת קְטַנִּים נוֹפְלִים מֵהַשָּׁמַיִם

    הוּא הָיָה מָלֵא רַכּוּת
    הִיא הָיְתָה קָשָׁה
    וְכָל כַּמָּה שֶׁנִסְּתָה לְהִשָּׁאֵר כָּךְ
    פָּשׁוּט וּבְלִי סִבָּה טוֹבָה
    לָקַח אוֹתָהּ אֶל תּוֹךְ עַצְמוֹ
    וְהֵנִיחַ בְּמָקוֹם הֲכִי הֲכִי רַךְ

  • Morgan

    I cant tell you how beautiful this piece of music really is. I have listened to it a lot of times. Its so beautiful and amazing. Your music is wonderful thanks so much! I really wish i could have the lyrics for this piece
    thanks again!

  • Deanna

    Hi Eric,

    I am planning on doing these pieces (Five Hebrew Love Songs) and have my music purchased for choir, piano and violin. Is there a violin part written separately that I can buy? Otherwise are we expected to cut and paste the part ourselves? I also noticed that it is not quite the same as some of the versions that I have heard as the violin solo is also in the beginning measures and in my part it does not start until the measure after the choir entrance on Temuna. Any advice?

  • Deanna

    Just another quick question. I've heard different recordings that treat measure 54 of movement II Kala kalla in different ways. Is it meant to be a C# as in measure 29 and measure 4 of the same movement. It has no accidental in the piano, violin, vocal version that we are performing from.

  • Katey Wade

    Hey Eric,
    I attend California Lutheran University and sang the Lux solo when you were featured during our new music concert. I am planning on singing 5 Hebrew Love Songs for my Senior Recital with violin and piano but cannot find it online. Do you know where I can find it?
    Thanks so much,

    Katey Wade
    ps you are totally invited to the recited. And Hila, of course.

  • Ann

    While I love hearing the Hebrew and its correct pronunciation, is there anyplace where there is a translation??

  • jisha jacob

    hai eric,

    i am very new to your music. i recently joined an all women choir (i have not had any formal music education, its just my born talent) and we are singing your five hebrew songs next month. i fell in love with your music. i am well versed in arabic and i can see the similarity of pronounciation and it comes very easy to me.

    you are a music genius at such young age. god bless you and your sincere contribution to music world so that we get to sing more and more of these brilliant but soul touching music. we love you eric….

  • Didi

    How do I keep my comments relevent… i was just 'emailed-introduced' -to the virtual choir an hr ago by a friend. And one thing led to another. The Five Hebrew Love Story… i am in tears. While looking for the lyrics, i found this blog instead. It is amazing, eric & hilla. I was not going to pass not writing….and i, within an hour I am just drawn into your souls… with this song… when i didn't even know who you were an hour ago. And then into mine… thank you. I am still listening to the song and I am looking at, which I have just taken out & dusted, an unfinished art of a man, a woman and a girl which i had drawn on wood.. because it all speaks… everything speaks. Everything. Amazing… hilla…thank you for singing with your eyes. PS- just as I am about to finish writing this, i accidently clicked on A Boy & A Girl link and both songs are playing simultaneously…its rather beautiful and appropriately magical.

  • Audio Tutorials

    The director for the choir in Taiwan is so adorable and just makes me love the pieces even more. (I mean, obviously the person who COMPOSED the pieces is my favorite…. but i gotta give her some credit.) ; )

  • Scott

    Does anyone know where I can purchase a PDF copy of this piece for immediate download?

  • kaylee

    i have a report on you ERIC WHITACRE it was made from Mr. Genesis Brown my band and music teacher and one of the questios was to find who the POET for the 5 hebrew love songs is and i cant find it on the internet please answer my question!!! please!!!

    • Eric

      Kaylee, the poems were written by my wife, Hila Plitmann (

  • Kathryn Humphries

    I would LOVE to get my hands on this piece, however, I was sad to discover that musicroom does not deliver to Austria. Chamber music is very big here in Vienna, and I think this piece would be a big hit here. I’ve already searched all of the music libraries in Vienna, and for all of the Mozart and Haydn, there is serious underrepresentation in the Whitacre section! Anyone have any ideas how I could order a score to be delivered here? Many thanks in advance :) Kathryn Humphries