Edwin Seroussi is the Emanuel Alexandre Professor of Musicology and Director of the Jewish Music Research Centre at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. From 2008 to 2013 he was the head of the newly-created School of the Arts at Hebrew University. He also occupied several other administrative and academic positions at the Hebrew University, such as Head of the Department of Musicology, board member of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Advanced Humanities, member of the Scholion Academic Committee and member of the Tenure and Professorship Committees in the Humanities and Social Sciences.
Seroussi was born in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1952 and immigrated to Israel in 1971. His M.A. cum laude was granted by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Thesis subject: “‘Old’ and ‘New’ in the Singing of Bakkashot among Moroccan Jews in Israel” (1981). He earned his Ph.D. at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dissertation subject: “Schir Hakawod and the Liturgical Music Reforms in the Sephardi Community in Vienna, ca. 1881-1925” (1988).
Held lectureships at the Department of Musicology of Tel-Aviv University and Levinsky Teachers' College in Tel-Aviv, before his full time appointment at Bar-Ilan University in 1990, where he was head of the Department of Music from 1994 to 1998 before moving to the Hebrew University. He was also a lecturer at the H. Miller Cantor's Institute of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in Jerusalem and New York. He was visiting professor at SUNY Binghamton (1992/3), UCLA (1999/2000), Universidad de Buenos Aires (2003), Wesleyan University (2007), Dartmouth College (2008, 2014), Institut für Musikwissenschaft in Zürich (2008, 2013), Moscow University (2009), University of California Berkeley (2010), Boston University (2011), and Harvard University (2013; Starr Scholar in Jewish Studies).
Besides his academic endeavors, he was President of the Israel Committee of the International Music Council (UNESCO), member of the board of Renanot - Institute of Jewish Music and Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra. Served as advisor to several institutions such as the Israel Music Project and the Center for the Encouragement of Folklore and Cultural Exchange in Israel and was member of the Public Board of the Israel Broadcasting Authority between 1995 and 1999. Between 1994 and 2003 he founded and directed the Mediterranean Musical Dialogue at Mishkenot Sha'ananim (Konrad Adenauer Center). This prestigious international event was revived in 2011 by the Jerusalem Music Center.
His publications cover a wide variety of topics, ranging from historical aspects of music of the Jews to present-day Israeli popular music. Among his publications are: Incipitario sefardí: the cancionero judeoespañol en fuentes hebreas (siglos XIV-XIX) (Madrid 2009) that was awarded the prestigious Maurice Toledano Prize, Spanish-Portuguese Synagogue Music in Nineteenth-century Reform Sources from Hamburg: Ancient Tradition in the Dawn of Modernity (Jerusalem 1996), Cancionero sefardí by Alberto Hemsi (Jerusalem 1995), and Mizimrat Qedem: The Life and Music of R. Isaac Algazi from Turkey (Jerusalem 1989) and more than fifty articles on diverse aspects of the Sephardic music traditions from the Ottoman Empire and North Africa. He also researched the popular music of Israel with substantial grants from the Israel National Academy of Sciences. His book Popular Music and National Culture in Israel (written with Motti Regev) was published by the University of California Press in 2004 and is internationally considered the standard text book on this subject. A Hebrew version was published by the Open University of Israel in 2013.
Seroussi contributed many articles for major music encyclopedias such as The Revised New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Diccionario de la música española e hispanoamericana, The Encyclopedia of the Jews in the Lands of Islam, and The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages. He founded and edits Yuval: Music Series of the Jewish Music Research Centre (nine volumes to date).
He edited and/or wrote notes for many CDs published by prestigious labels e.g. The Collection of Abraham Zvi Idelsohn (1911-1913) (Phonogrammarchiv of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, 2006) and Chants judéo-espagnols de la Mediterraneé orientale (Inedit, Paris 1994). His latest production is An Early Twentieth-Century Sephardi Troubadour, The Historical Recordings of Haim Effendi from Turkey (with Joel Bresler and Rivka Havassy, 2008) published in the series Anthology of Music Traditions in Israel that he produces at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 2009 he founded a new series, Contemporary Jewish Music, with three volumes published to date.
For his public activities and publications on Sephardic music, he received the Sephardic Music Heritage Award of the Sephardic House, New York (1992).