Born in Argentina, Susana Weich-Shahak lives in Israel since 1958.
After having obtained a license and a master’s degree in musicology and piano at the Conservatorio Nacional de Buenos Aires and the music academy of the Tel Aviv University, she obtained in 1986 a PhD in musicology at the Tel Aviv University. Her PhD, which was a study of the music of four Indain tribes of the Peruvian forest : « Yagua, Campa, Mashco and Orejón » was made with the help of field recordings of music and mythical stories gathered on the spot, thanks to grants from the Tel Aviv University.
Since 1973, Susana Weich-Shahak focused her work on the Sefardi musical tradition, a work that she has, for the most, done as part of the Jewish Music Research Center of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. For many years, she did a remarkable field work. Collecting many recordings and testimonies, she built a true catalogue, enriched with analysis, presenting the three main genres of the Judeo-Spanish traditional repertoire, which are the romances, coplas and cantigas. These three poetic and musical genres testify of the vitality, richness and variety of this repertoire. Her field work brought her to travel in the various Sefardi communities throughout the world, in Bulgaria (1993, 1995), Belgium (1995), France (1995), Greece (1992), Macedonia (1993), Morocco (1987), Peru (1975), Spain (1993, 1995, 1997), Turkey (1996) and in Israel (1973-2002). All her recordings are now catalogued at the National Audio Library of Israel in Jerusalem.
Throughout her long carreer, she taught in Israel at the Tel Aviv University (department of musicology), at the music teachers’ seminary, at the Alcalá University (department of Spanish studies, situated in Israel), at the Haifa University (Music department) and Bar Ilan University (Salti Centre, for the studies in Judeo-Spanish).
From 1987 to 2003, she was responsable of music education, in the Ministry of culture and education (Tel-Aviv district).
From 1992 to 1997 and in 2004, she obtained, in particular from the Spanish Ministry of culture and science, a grant for her research in the CSIC (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas) in Madrid.
She did, from 1998 to 2006, all over Spain, an important field work, blending many inter-disciplinary projects throughout several universities and research centers, giving classes and conferences on the subject of Sefardi oral tradition, for which she would receive, in 2006, the prestigious Samuel Toledano Award (Premio Samuel Toledano) for her work made of research, conferences and preservation of the musical and poetic traditional Sefardi repertoire. In 2016, she received the Order of Civil Merit (Órder del Mérito Civil), given by the Spanish Ministry of foreign affairs.
Susana Weich Shahak is the author of many publications (books, articles and discs).
Her disc releases:
– Ventanas altas de Saloniki – Sefardi songs, coplas and ballads from Thessaloniki
– Judeo-Spanish Songs for the Life Cycle in the Eastern Mediterranean / Cantares Judeo-espanoles del Ciclo de la Vida en el Mediterraneo Oriental
– Traditional Sephardic Songs and Ballads from Morocco, CD. Recordings and notes. Madrid: TECNOSAGA, S.A., 1991.
– Traditional Sephardic Songs and Ballads from the Balkan Countries, CD. Recordings and notes. Madrid: TECNOSAGA, S.A.,1993.
– Los Cantes de Ester – Drama Musical para Purim en Salónica, Cassette: Recording and Production. Jerusalem: Renanot, 1994.
– Romancero Sefardí: Twin Ballads in the Sephardic Oral Tradition from Eastern and Western Mediterranean – (Variantes gemelas en la tradición oral sefardí del Mediterráneo Oriental y Occidental), CD, Serie La tradición Musical en España, Research and production (Investigación y realización), Madrid: Tecnosaga, S.A., WKPD-10/2026, 1998.
– Judeo-Spanish Moroccan Songs for the Life Cycle, Anthology of Music Traditions in Israel,5, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jewish Music Research Center, 2001.
– Selección de Romances Sefardíes de Marruecos, CD, Serie La tradición Musical en España, Research and production (Investigación y realización), Madrid: Tecnosaga, S.A., WKPD-10/2068, 2002.
– Cancionero Sefardí de Turquía – Judeo-Spanish Cancionero from Turkey from Bienvenida Aguado Mushabak’s repertoire, collected and commented by S.Weich-Shahak. Madrid: Serie La Tradición Musical en España, Tecnosaga, S.A., WKPD-2085 2004.
– Voces sefardíes de Sarajevo (Sephardi Voices from Sarajevo), collected and commented by Susana Weich-Shahak, with articles on literary, linguistic and historical aspects by S.G.Armistead, A. Quitana and E.Papo. Serie La tradición musical en España. Madrid: Tecnosaga S.A., WKDP-2101, 2007.