Maurice Ohana


Maurice Ohana (12 June 1913 – 13 November 1992) was a French composer. Ohana's output includes choral works, string quartets, suites for ten-string guitar, a Tiento for six-string guitar, and operas.

Life and career

Ohana was born in Casablanca, Morocco (during the French protectorate). His father, an Andalusian of Sephardic Jewish descent, had been born in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, while his mother had Andalusian-Castilian origins.[1][2] Ohana inherited British citizenship from his father.[1] He originally studied architecture, but abandoned this in favour of a musical career, initially as a pianist. He studied under Alfredo Casella in Rome, returning to France in 1946. Around this time he founded the "Groupe Zodiaque", which fought against prevailing musical dogma. His mature musical style shows the influence of Mediterranean folk music, particularly the Andalusian cante jondo. In 1976 he took French citizenship.[1]

Ohana's output includes the choral works Office des Oracles and Avoaha (1992), three string quartets (1963, 1980, 1989), and two suites for ten-string guitar: Si le jour paraît... (1963)[3] and Cadran lunaire (1981–2),[4] as well as a Tiento for six-string guitar (1957).[5] He also wrote operas entitled Syllabaire pour Phèdre and La Celestina.

He is also known for his extensive use of microtonality; for example, third- and quarter-tones in pieces like Le Tombeau de Debussy and Si le jour paraît.... He was influenced by the use of microintervals in the cante jondo.[6]

Ohana rarely composed for large symphony orchestra: Synaxis (1966), Livre des Prodiges (1979) and T'Harân-Ngô (1974). He composed two cello concertos, one piano concerto and a guitar concerto (1958; dedicated to Narciso Yepes).[7][8]

Ohana died in Paris.


  1. ^ a b c Rae, Caroline. "Ohana, Maurice". Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, Oxford University Press. Retrieved 17 March 2014. (subscription required).
  2. ^ Rae (2000), p. 2.
  3. ^ Si le jour paraît... Archived 2006-11-27 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Cadran lunaire Archived 2007-06-07 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Tiento Archived 2007-06-07 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Jedrzejewski, Franck (2003). Dictionnaire des musiques microtonales ("Dictionary of microtonal music"), Paris, L'Harmattan, ISBN 2-7475-5576-3; Bayer Francis (1981). De Schönberg à Cage: Essai sur la notion d'espace dans la musique contemporaine, Paris, Klincksieck, ISBN 2-252-02329-5.
  7. ^ Halbreich, Harry (1997). An Andalusian from Paris to New Orleans, liner notes of CD-release 1C1039 on Timpani Records.
  8. ^ Liner notes to the Narciso Yepes recording.

Abbonizio, Isabella. "Maurice Ohana (parte III). Il Tiento" (Maurice Ohana: The Originality of a Musical Idiom. Tiento (third part)), Il Fronimo n. 133, January 2006, pp. 36-46 (in Italian).

Abbonizio, Isabella. "Maurice Ohana (parte II). Un profilo estetico e l’opera per chitarra" (Maurice Ohana: The Originality of a Musical Idiom. Aesthetics and Guitar Works (second part)), Il Fronimo n. 132, October 2005, pp. 24-36 (in Italian).

Abbonizio, Isabella. "Maurice Ohana. L’originalità di un linguaggio – (parte I) Cenni biografici e riferimenti culturali" (Maurice Ohana: The Originality of a Musical Idiom. Biography and Culture (first part)), Il Fronimo n. 131, July 2005, pp. 31-42 (in Italian).


  • Rae, Caroline (2000). The music of Maurice Ohana. Ashgate. ISBN 978-0-7546-0288-0.

External links

  • Official website of Les Amis de Maurice Ohana (in French)
  • Composer entry at Gérard Billaudot Éditeur
  • Maurice Ohana at IMDb
  • Excerpts from sound archives of Ohana's works.