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(b Frankfurt, Sept 11, 1903; d Brig, Switzerland, Aug 6, 1969). German writer on music and philosopher. The son of a businessman of Jewish extraction, Oscar Alexander Wiesengrund, and a professional singer of Catholic Corsican origin, Maria Calvelli-Adorno della Piana, he adopted his mother's name in the 1920s, initially as Weisengrund-Adorno, dispensing with the hyphen in 1938. In 1937–8 he also wrote briefly under the pseudonym Hektor ‘Rottweiler’.

Strongly influenced by Ernst Bloch's Vom Geist der Utopie and Georg Lukács's Theorie des Romans while still at school, and having had a musical upbringing, with piano, violin and composition lessons from an early age, in 1921 he went on to study philosophy (with Hans Cornelius) at the University of Frankfurt with musicology, sociology and psychology as subsidiary subjects, continuing composition studies with Bernhard Sekles and piano with Eduard Jung. During his student years he became friendly with the philosopher Max Horkheimer and the literary critic Walter Benjamin, who both had considerable influence on his development. Three years after starting university he took the doctorate with a dissertation on Husserl (...

Article

(b Paris, Nov 30, 1813; d Paris, March 29, 1888). French pianist and composer. His real name was Morhange. He was one of the leading piano virtuosos of the 19th century and one of its most unusual composers, remarkable in both technique and imagination, yet largely ignored by his own and succeeding generations.

Of Jewish parentage, Alkan was the eldest of five brothers, all of whom, with an elder sister as well, became musicians under the assumed name Alkan; Napoléon Alkan, the third brother (1826–1910), taught solfège at the Paris Conservatoire for over 50 years. Valentin Alkan’s career at the Conservatoire started brilliantly with a premier prix for solfège at the age of seven. When Alkan was nine Cherubini observed that he was ‘astonishing for his age’ and described his ability on the piano as ‘extraordinary’. He won a premier prix for piano in 1824, for harmony in ...

Article

John Beckwith

(b Budapest, April 12, 1919; d Kingston, ON, February 24, 2012). Canadian composer, conductor and pianist of Hungarian birth. He studied with Kodály at the Budapest Academy (1937–41). As a young man he spent a period with other Jewish youths in a forced-labour contingent of the Hungarian Army; his later war experiences – escape, then concealment by friends during the winter of 1944–5 – are described in the memoirs of the novelist Theresa de Kerpely (Teresa Kay). After a season as assistant conductor at the Budapest Opera (1945–6), he went to Paris for further studies in piano (Soulima Stravinsky), conducting (Fourestier) and composition (Boulanger), remaining there for three years. He moved to Canada in 1949 (taking Canadian nationality in 1955), and for three years held a Lady Davis Fellowship and an appointment as assistant professor at McGill University. There he founded the electronic music studio and served for six years as chair of the department of theoretical music. He held grants for electronic music research from the Canada Council (...

Article

Helen Metzelaar

(Marie Clémence)

(b Maastricht, Dec 1, 1905; d Brunssum, March 1, 1982). Dutch composer and pianist. After gaining a teaching certificate in 1927, she studied the piano with Maria Gielen and composition with Henri Hermans. She made her début with the Maastricht city orchestra (conducted by Hermans) in 1928, both as a soloist in Mozart's Piano Concertok488 and as a composer with her Drie schetsen for chamber orchestra. From 1929 to 1942 and from 1944 to 1947 she regularly performed with this orchestra. During World War II she refused to sign a ‘non-Jewish declaration’, and consequently resigned from the Maastricht city orchestra. In 1932 she was appointed teacher of theory and piano at the music school in Heerlen, where she worked until 1972. She travelled to Paris each summer from 1930 to 1937 to study with Milhaud.

Some of Bonhomme's compositions are late Romantic in style, showing the influence of Franck, others are French Impressionistic in harmony and instrumentation, reminding one more of Ravel and Roussel than of Milhaud. Her earliest works, such as the ...

Article

Marija Đurić Speare

(b ?Venice, ?Nov 1680; d London,Jan 14, 1783). Italian cellist and composer. He was of Sephardi Jewish origin. Nothing is known about his life in Italy, though Burney referred to him as a Venetian. He arrived in England probably in early 1738, when he became a member of the Royal Society of Musicians: he was an important member of a group of London-based Italians who brought the solo cello into favour in England. Although his playing was technically brilliant, his tone, according to Burney, was ‘raw, crude and uninteresting’. The first reliable record of his playing is of a concerto at Drury Lane (22 November 1742); he continued to play there regularly until about 1774/5. According to his son James's obituary, Cervetto ‘led the band’ there. He played in numerous subscription concerts at Hickford's Room, the Great Room, the King's Theatre and the New Theatre in the Haymarket. He also played in the orchestra at Vauxhall and took part in private concerts, for example in the Burney household. At some point in the early 1760s Cervetto seems to have relinquished his solo career in order to make way for his son, also a cellist. Marsh recorded Cervetto's presence at a concert at the Salisbury Festival in ...

Article

(b Paris, July 4, 1694; d Paris, June 15, 1772). French organist, harpsichordist and composer. Descended from a family of intellectuals of Jewish origin, the son of Claude Daquin and Anne Treisant, Louis-Claude was an infant prodigy. After taking some harpsichord lessons from his godmother Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, and composition lessons from Nicolas Bernier, he was capable of playing before Louis XIV at the age of six and of conducting his own Beatus vir in the Sainte-Chapelle at the age of eight. In 1706 he was appointed organist at the convent of Petit St Antoine and was able to play on the organ of the Sainte-Chapelle. On 12 July 1722 he married Denise-Thérèse Quirot; they had only one child, Pierre-Louis D'Aquin de Châteaulion (c1722–97), whose Lettres trace the brilliant career of a father greatly admired by Parisian society. Louis-Claude's marriage contract tells us that at the time he was ...

Article

Gerald Abraham

(b Goldingen, Courland [now Kuldīga, Latvia], 3/March 15, 1838; d Moscow, 14/Feb 26, 1889). Russian cellist, composer and administrator. The son of a Jewish doctor and amateur violinist (Davidhoff), he studied mathematics at Moscow University, graduating in June 1858. He then went to Leipzig to study composition with Moritz Hauptmann. Moscheles and Ferdinand David happened to hear him play, and he was invited to perform his own B minor Concerto with the Gewandhaus Orchestra on 15 December. In the following year he succeeded Friedrich Grützmacher as principal cellist of the orchestra and cello professor at the conservatory; against his will, he was obliged to recognize his vocation as a cellist rather than as a composer. Despite his notorious distaste for intensive practising he was soon acclaimed as one of the greatest players of his day, superb as a soloist, perhaps even finer in chamber music....

Article

Jonathan Powell

(Yevgen′yevich)

(b Odessa, 14/May 26, 1890; d Moscow, Oct 22, 1962). Russian pianist and composer. His parents were of Jewish origin, and in 1894 they moved from Odessa to Moscow. There Feinberg entered the conservatory, where he studied the piano with Gol′denveyzer, graduating in 1911. He also took private composition lessons with Zhilyayev. Over the next few years he started performing as a pianist and continued to compose. Around this time he played to Skryabin, who declared Feinberg’s performance of his Fourth Sonata the most convincing he had yet heard. In August 1914 he was sent to the Polish front, but he fell seriously ill and was sent to a military hospital, where he contracted typhus. He returned to Moscow and convalesced there for the rest of World War I. In 1922 he was appointed professor of piano at the Moscow conservatory. He also became a member of the circle which met at Pavel Lamm’s flat; musicians he encountered there included Myaskovsky and Anatoly Aleksandrov, both of whom wrote works for him. During the second half of the 1920s he achieved significant success abroad, giving concerts in Italy, Austria and Germany, and taking part in the ...

Article

Wesley Berg

(Joel)

(b Boston, June 30, 1942). Canadian composer and pianist of American birth. He studied at Boston University (BMus) and Michigan State University (MMus; PhD), and has taught at the University of Western Ontario, Acadia University, the University of Alberta (chair, 1986–9) and Queen's University, where he was director 1990–97. His compositional style has been described as post-Schoenbergian, employing a chromaticism controlled both by a limited number of pitch class sets and a sense of tonal hierarchy (Lewis, 1993). Many of his works are confessional. His fascination with the Canadian North has resulted in compositions such as Cry Wolf (1977), after a Cree Indian legend. In 1980 he began to explore themes from Jewish culture and history in works such as Morning: Peniel (1980), Zakhor: Remember (1983) and Small Worlds (1984). Several of these interests come together in Six Fantasy Pieces...

Article

Efrim Fruchtman

revised by Valerie Walden

(b Neuberg, Feb 15, 1768; d Berlin, c1857). German cellist, baryton player and composer. A member of a musical family, he received his general musical education from Hofmusikus Simon. His first position was as a court musician in Mannheim, where he studied the cello with Peter Ritter. Friedl was equally respected as a baryton player, and following a performance at Schwetzingen was given by Prince Carl Theodore of Mannheim an inlaid and bejewelled instrument made by Joachim Tielke. In 1793, on returning from a concert tour in the Netherlands, he performed at Frankfurt for an audience which included Friedrich Wilhelm II, who then engaged him for the Royal Chapel in Berlin. He subsequently studied the cello with Jean-Louis Duport, to whom he dedicated his three cello sonatas op.1 (Offenbach, 1798). Friedl was pensioned in 1826; his name appeared in the Berlin Address Calendar until 1857.

Very little is known of Friedl's compositions. Eitner's ...