Marc Lavry was born in Riga, Latvia and received his formal musical education at the Riga and Leipzig conservatories under teachers Scherchen and Glazunov. Lavry’s early career included conducting posts in Riga and Saarbrucken and a position as the director of the Laban Dance Ensemble in Berlin. In 1929, Lavry was hired to conduct the Berliner Symphony Orchestra, and three years later in 1932 received a post as conductor of the Riga Opera. In response to the rise of the Nazi party and the induction of the Nuremburg Laws, Lavry emigrated to Palestine with his wife in 1935. Between 1941 and 1947 Lavry conducted the Palestine Folk Opera and Palestine Orchestra. In 1950 Lavry was invited to head the Kol Zion La Gola, the World Zionist Organization's broadcast to the Diaspora. While working for the radio station, Lavry established a permanent choir to perform live for the broadcasts.
Lavry was also a prolific composer of Israeli art music, with a large corpus of oratorios, chamber and orchestral works, popular songs, and theater music. Perhaps his most well known piece, one which typified the emerging Mediterranean style of early Israeli folk and art musicians, was his symphonic poem Emek (1937). This piece is considered the first symphonic hora, imitating the short metrical phrases and duple meter characteristic of the traditional folk dance. His Opera, Dan ha’shomer (1945) was the first of its kind to be produced and performed in Israel and made use of liturgical melodies, Israeli folk songs and Chasidic dance and musical idioms. Lavry is recognized as one of the pioneers of Israeli art music, not only for the quality and influence of his compositions, but also his contribution as a conductor of the advancement of early musical life in Israel.