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Industry Leadership Award 2011 - Matanya Ophee
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Matanya Ophee was born in Jerusalem on June 15, 1932. He spent some years on a kibbutz tending horses, picking fruit, and then driving 18wheeler trucks down to the Dead Sea, working as a printing press operator, selling books from door to door and other delightful occupations. In 1952, he enlisted in the Israeli Air Force as a cadet in its flying school, graduating on August 13th, 1953.

In 1955 Matanya began his guitar studies in Tel Aviv with Esther Bromberger, a pupil of Luigi Mozzani, then taking further lessons from José Pelta and Menache Baquiche. In 1960-62 he studied with Richard Pick in Chicago. Further studies in music theory were taken under Gérard Le Coat at the Conservatoire de Lausanne in Switzerland (1963), and in composition with Eli Yarden in Israel (1964). During the years 1964-65, Matanya was active in Tel Aviv as a private guitar teacher, and gave a fair number of concerts and recitals. He took part in a radio broadcast on Kol Israel, together with Uri Shoham, first flute of the Israeli Philharmonic, and Ze’ev Shteinberg, the first viola of the same orchestra, in a world premier performance of the Trio for flute,viola and guitar by the Israeli composer Yosef Mar-Chaim.

In 1965 Matanya immigrated to the USA and became a naturalized American citizen in 1970. Teaching the guitar in the mid60s was not a good way to pay the rent and buy groceries, so he got a day job flying airplanes commercially, beginning with Mohawk Airlines, which then became Allegheny which then became Usair now known as US Airways.

The guitar was always there.

In the early 1970s Matanya joined a small chamber music group in Concord, New Hampshire, playing lunch time concerts in various locations. The Boccherini quintets, the Schubert-Matiegka quartet, the Kreutzer Trio and the rest of those things with a green cover from Zimmermann. That was not quite enough, so he started looking in libraries for more. Since then, he had the good fortune to discover a great deal of unknown music, a lot of information about some composers guitarists never heard of and by the sheer force of perseverance, he learned from his mistakes as he went along. He discovered, in the writings of Blaise Cendrars, one small saying which changed his life: "One does not need much talent or knowledge. All that is required is a love for that which is true, a deep curiosity and a sense of being.” He became a historian-musicologist. His many articles have appeared in leading guitar journals throughout the world and in many languages. His research into the repertoire of chamber music with guitar and the history of the guitar in Russia have been notable contributions to public knowledge. He is recognized, among others, for bringing to light the music, the biography and the accomplishments of François de Fossa, Jan Bobrowicz, Antoine de L’Hoyer, Andrei Sychra, Johann Dubez, Ivan Padovec, Leonhard Schulz, Giulio Regondi and a few others. Besides his interest in early nineteenth century guitar music, Matanya also relentlessly sought out high-level guitar music by contemporary composers. He brought to light the music of Eli Magen (grandson of Alexander Scriabin!), Roberto Sierra, Marilyn Ziffrin, Carlos Barrientos, Mark Delpriora, Nikita Koshkin, and Jan Freidlin, to mention a few names.

In 1978 Matanya established, while still in New Hampshire, the publishing company Editions Orphée. Eventually it moved with him to Boston and later to Columbus, Ohio, where it has been based since 1984. The company is recognized internationally as a leading publisher of guitar music and books, having won numerous awards for the graphic excellence of its editions and the approbation of important music critics around the world. In 1988 Matanya retired from aviation, and now devotes his full time to music and the guitar. He is a fearless researcher of guitar history, an occupation he still maintains on a daily basis, and (as Matanya says), much to the consternation of his many supporters and detractors, he knows no compromise as a public figure in the International guitar world.

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