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Article

William Y. Elias

(b Berlin, Jan 17, 1925). Israeli musicologist of German birth. He settled in Palestine in 1937, and studied music at the Paris Conservatoire (1949–53) and under Corbin at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (diploma 1961). He then attended the musicology institute at the Sorbonne, where he studied with Chailley and in 1963 took a doctorat de 3ème cycle with a dissertation on learned musical practice in several Jewish communities in 17th- and 18th-century Europe. Concurrently, he was head of the Hebraica-Judaica section at the Bibliothèque Nationale (1950–63). He returned to Israel to become the director of the music department and national sound archives at the Jewish National and Hebrew University library in Jerusalem (1963–9), and was subsequently director of the library (1969–71). In 1964 he founded the Jewish music research centre at the Hebrew University and was its director (...

Article

Marie Rolf

(Hans)

(b Mannheim, March 4, 1928). American composer and conductor of German birth. Both of his parents were musical, his father being a cantor and composer of Jewish liturgical music. The family came to the USA in 1939 and Adler attended Boston University (BM 1948) and Harvard University (MA 1950). He studied composition with Aaron Copland, Paul Fromm, Paul Hindemith, Hugo Norden, Walter Piston and Randall Thompson; musicology with Karl Geiringer, A.T. Davison and Paul A. Pisk; and conducting with Sergey Koussevitzky at the Berkshire Music Center. In 1950 he joined the US Army and organized the Seventh Army SO, which he conducted in more than 75 concerts in Germany and Austria; he was awarded the Army Medal of Honor for his musical services. Subsequently he conducted concerts and operas, and lectured extensively throughout Europe and the USA. In 1957 he was appointed professor of composition at North Texas State University, and in ...

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Natan Shahar

(b Yekatrinoslav [now Dnepropetrovsk], Dec 5, 1894; d Tel-Aviv, April 2, 1982). Israeli composer and singer. He emigrated to Palestine from the Ukraine in 1906. He studied at the Teacher's Seminary in Jerusalem where his teachers included Abraham Zvi Idelsohn. During World War I he moved to Egypt and enlisted in the British Army. After the war he returned to Palestine and, while earning his living as an accountant, took singing lessons with Jehuda Har-Melaḥ. A countertenor with a phenomenal ability to improvise, he travelled to the USA in 1923 to further his singing studies; there he specialized in improvisation and distinctive vibrato singing, similar in style to Arab-Bedouin singing or ululation. Commissioned to write an orchestral accompaniment for songs improvised in a Bedouin style, he enlisted the compositional assistance of Lazar Seminski, who encouraged him to continue to compose. His first songs, Ya leil (‘Oh night’) and ...

Article

(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

Noël Goodwin

[Georgy]

(b Leningrad [now St Petersburg], May 13, 1932; d Cologne, Oct 31, 2002). Israeli conductor of Soviet birth. He studied at the Leningrad Central School of Music and the Leningrad Conservatory, and also with Natan Rakhlin and Kurt Sanderling. In 1956 he was appointed conductor of the Saratov PO; he also taught at the conservatory there and conducted his first operas. The next year he became conductor at Yaroslav, remaining there until his appointment as chief conductor of the Moscow RSO in 1964; his guest engagements included appearances with the Bol′shoy Ballet. Ahronovich left the USSR in 1972 and became an Israeli citizen. After concerts with the Israel PO he began touring, appearing in London with the RPO and with the New York PO in the USA. He made his operatic début in the West with Otello at Cologne, where he was conductor of the Gürzenich Concerts from ...

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Article

Jehoash Hirshberg

(Heinz)

(b Berlin, Aug 9, 1915). Israeli composer of German birth. His studies at the Stern Conservatory were halted in 1936 as a result of the Nazi persecution, and in the same year he emigrated to Palestine. There he studied composition with Wolpe and the piano with Irma Wolpe-Schoenberg and Ilona Vince-Kraus. As a student he made his living as a café jazz pianist in Jersualem and established himself as an excellent improviser. From 1945 until his retirement he was a professor at the Rubin Academy of Music, Jerusalem. A highly versatile musician, he taught the piano, the harpsichord, theory, composition and improvisation. He also lectured in the musicology departments of Tel-Aviv University, the Hebrew University, the Institut Jaques-Dalcroze, Geneva, and New York University.

One of the diverse group of composers who emigrated from Europe to Palestine during the 1930s, Alexander experienced the tension between the ideological pressure to create a new national style with a nebulous Middle Eastern and folklike orientation, and the urge to keep abreast of current Western music. This tension is reflected in the contrast between the post-Romantic chromaticism of ...

Article

Nathan Mishori

(b Tel-Aviv, Oct 19, 1930; d New York, Oct 4, 1994). Israeli composer. She studied at the Tel-Aviv Music Teachers’ College (1948–50) and at the Israel Academy of Music (1950–52), where her principal teachers were Oedoen Partos (composition) and Ilona Vincze-Kraus (piano). Later, she was composer-in-residence at the Bar-Ilan University (1975–6).

Alotin shared her teachers' ideal of combining Western, Eastern and Jewish music traditions with contemporary ideas. In general, her works are based on Baroque and Classical forms, but in conjunction with an individual language of fluidly changing metre and rhythm, already evident in Yefeh nof (‘Beautiful Landscape’, 1952). The theme of the Passacaglia (1954) for piano is a Bukharian song, elaborated through extended tonality, while the influence of biblical cantillation is felt in the Cantata (1956) and in the vital and spontaneous Sonata for violin and piano (...

Article

Natan Shahar

(b Warsaw, Aug 8, 1909; d Yakum Kibbutz, Israel, Dec 18, 1993). Israeli composer and teacher of Russian descent. He received his early musical education in Moscow. In 1924 he emigrated with his family to Palestine, where he continued his musical studies with Shlomo Rozovsky (1928–9). He began to compose in 1930. From 1934 to 1936 he studied music education at Trinity College, London, and composition with Bantock and Rowley; at the same time he also studied at Tonic Sol-fa College, London. With the formation of the Israeli Army, he was appointed First Officer for music, founding the orchestras of both the army and the cadets. In 1949 he became the central inspector for music education at the Ministry of Education, a post he held until his retirement in 1975.

Amiran was one of the Ereṣ Yisrael composers who developed the character of what became known as typical Israeli folksong. His vast number of songs (around 600), many of which set biblical texts, were published in a wide array of pamphlets and song books. The most notable of these include: the nursery songs ...

Article

Leonidas Economou

(b 1938; d London, England, April 2, 1989). Greek Roma singer. He was born in a caravan between the cities of Kavala and Drama in Greece, orphaned at an early age, and worked hard to make a living for himself and his family. He made his first recordings in 1956 and became widely known in 1958 with the Indian-style song ‘Magala’. In the following years, he cooperated with some of the best laiko creators, had many hits, performed in the best nightclubs, and appeared in numerous films. His bass but tender voice and his highly ornamented vocal styles, his repertory of orientalist songs and socially sensitive texts, and his bold public assertion of his ethnic and social identity, were warmly received by working-class audiences. He became a social hero for the Roma and one of the most popular laiko singers of the late 1950s and the 1960s. From the late 1960s his career declined, due to the general change of commercial policies, the political environment, and popular taste, but he continued to cooperate with important creators and to record hits like ‘...

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

Talila Eliram

[Abramovich, Aleksander ]

(b Moscow, Oct 26, 1914; d Tel Aviv, Sept 27, 1995). Israeli popular music composer. His family name was Abramovich, but he changed it to the Hebrew name Argov in 1946, 12 years after emigrating to Israel. He was known as Sasha. His mother was a professional pianist and his father a dentist. Argov began to play the piano at the age of three and a half, and when he was six he began composing songs which his mother wrote down for him. He had no formal training in music, and in his adult life music was not his main source of income – he worked as a bank clerk and later owned a bookshop – but composing was always his mission in life.

He wrote approximately 1200 songs including songs for military and civilian entertainment troupes, and songs with piano accompaniment. He accompanied some performances of his songs, and emphasized that in his music the piano plays an important part in creating an atmosphere and illustrating the meaning of the text; he ascribed considerable importance to the relationship between text and music, and attempted to represent words in music using frequent changes of rhythm and metre. He also composed several musicals and film scores; his most famous musical was ...

Article

Larry Stempel

[Arluck, Hyman]

(b Buffalo, NY, Feb 15, 1905; d New York, April 23, 1986). American composer. The son of a cantor, he sang in the choir at his father’s synagogue as a child, and at the age of 15 played the piano in local movie houses and on excursion boats on Lake Erie. Smitten by the new and distinctively American popular music of the post-World War I period, he organized his own band, the Snappy Trio, and later joined another which (as the Buffalodians) went to New York in the mid-1920s. He made some band arrangements for Fletcher Henderson but worked mostly as a pianist and singer on radio, in theatre pit orchestras and in dance bands; he recorded as a singer with Benny Goodman, Red Nichols and Joe Venuti. In 1929 he began a songwriting collaboration with the lyricist Ted Koehler and achieved his first success with the song ‘Get Happy’, which appeared in the ...

Article

Jean Gribenski

(b Düsseldorf, Aug 16, 1930). Israeli and French ethnomusicologist . After studying the french horn with Jean Devémy at the Paris Conservatoire (1951–4), he was first horn in the Israel Broadcasting Authority SO in Jerusalem (1958–63). In 1963 he founded the Musée National Boganda at Bangui in the Central African Republic, and was its director until 1967, and on returning to Paris he undertook musicological studies with Chailley at the Sorbonne (1968–73). He entered the CNRS in 1968 and his subsequent career has been with that institution. In 1993 he was appointed lecturer at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris. He was an associate professor at Tel-Aviv University (1979–83) and music director of the Israel Broadcasting Authority (1980–82). He has been awarded the Grand Prix International du Disque de l’Académie Charles Cros (1971, 1978 and ...

Article

Stephen Plaistow

(Davidovich)

(b Gor′kiy [now Nizhniy Novgorod], July 6, 1937). Russian pianist and conductor, naturalized Icelandic. He was born into a musical Jewish family and entered the Moscow Central School of Music in 1945; his teacher there for the next ten years was Anaida Sumbatyan. His first major recital, devoted entirely to Chopin, was in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory in April 1955, and later that year he gained second prize at the fifth Warsaw International Chopin Competition. In 1956, now a pupil of Lev Oborin at the Moscow Conservatory, he was awarded first prize at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels. While still a student he made his first tour outside the USSR the following year, to East and West Germany. After graduating, it was inescapable that he should be groomed for the second International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1962 (the American Van Cliburn having won the first), and he duly restored national honour by carrying off a shared first prize (with John Ogdon). His London début followed in ...

Article

Michal Ben-Zur

( b Haifa, Nov 17, 1933). Israeli conductor . She studied the piano at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem, and subsequently studied conducting in Europe and the USA with Franco Ferrara, Celibidache, Hans Swarowsky and Boulez. From 1954 to 1960 she taught piano at the Rubin Academy of Music. Atlas won several international conducting awards, including the Dimitri Mitropoulos Competition (1964), the Leopold Stokowski Prize (1978) and the Eugene Ormandy Award (1980). In 1981 she was appointed associate professor and director of musical studies at the Technion in Haifa. She is the founder and principal conductor of the symphony orchestra and choir of Technion, the Israel Pro Musica Orchestra and the Atlas Camerata. She has also appeared as a guest conductor with the RPO in London, the Royal Liverpool PO and the Stockholm PO, among others. Atlas has given the first performances of works by the Israeli composers Amy Maayany and Zvi Avni, and has recorded Stravinsky's ...

Article

Arthur Jacobs

(b Budapest, July 30, 1931). Israeli conductor. His family settled in British-mandated Palestine in 1944 and he followed Israeli custom in changing his original surname to the present Hebrew form. Having studied the piano and horn, he graduated from the Tel-Aviv Academy of Music in composition and conducting (1962) and was encouraged by Antal Dorati to pursue a conducting career. In London, where he studied at the GSM, he won the school's conducting prize in 1963, followed in 1964 by the first prize at the international conducting competition sponsored by the Royal Liverpool PO. In 1967 he conducted the Vienna PO at the Salzburg Festival. From 1969 to 1971 he was chief conductor of the Sydney SO, and in 1972 he became chief conductor of the NDR SO and of the Basle SO. After a spell in Tokyo as musical adviser for the Tokyo Metropolitan SO (...

Article

William Y. Elias

[Loewenstein, Herbert]

(b Danzig [now Gdánsk], May 25, 1908; d Magen, Sept 16, 1994). Israeli musicologist. He studied musicology, literature and art history at the universities of Leipzig, Munich, Frankfurt and Königsberg (Kaliningrad), where he took the doctorate under Wilhelm Warringer in 1931 with a dissertation on Minnesang. He was prevented from pursuing an academic career in Germany, and turned to publishing Jewish art in Berlin (1932–6). In 1936 he settled as a publisher in Palestine, where research in musicology had barely begun, and he had to carry on his musicological work independently, publishing articles mostly in foreign periodicals. Urged to adapt himself to the demands of a country under war conditions, he developed a chemical production process and worked as a technical manager in industry (1941–8) before joining the Israel Air Force research department. He left the service with the rank of major to take up a research fellowship in musicology at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem (...

Article

(b Stanislav, Jan 6, 1908; d Tel-Aviv, Aug 5, 1995). Israeli composer of Russian birth. His mother was a cousin of Mahler; his adopted surname combines the word ‘Avi’ (‘father of’) with the initials of his children's names. He studied at the American University in Beirut and at the Paris Conservatoire, where his teachers included Rabaud. In 1925 he emigrated to Palestine, where, in addition to his work as a composer, he served as a music critic, secretary general of the Israel PO (1945–52), chair of the Israel Composers' League (1958–71) and general director of ACUM, the Israeli performing rights society (1955–80).

In the late 1930s, after writing early works in an Impressionist style, Avidom turned towards atonal composition. While studying in Beirut and during a four-year stay in Egypt, however, he became deeply influenced by Mediterranean and Asian folk music and French culture. These influences found their expression in arrangements for the Yemenite singer Bracha Zefira (...

Article

Eliyahu Schleifer

(b Jerusalem, Sept 15, 1941). Israeli composer and conductor. He studied at the Rubin Academy of Music (teacher's diploma 1967, BMus 1972) and at the Salzburg Mozarteum (1976). From 1968 to 1973 he served as the director of Renanot, the Institute of Jewish Music, Jerusalem. In 1971 he joined the music department at Bar-Ilan University, where he founded an electro-acoustic laboratory in 1995. He has conducted numerous concerts in Israel, as well as national television and radio broadcasts. In 1973 he helped establish the Natanya SO, with which he has performed concerts of contemporary Israeli music. An award-winning youth orchestra conductor, he became music director of the Jerusalem Youth Orchestra in 1987.

Avitsur's compositions express a deep commitment to Jewish and Israeli culture. Many of his works are large-scale vocal compositions based on scenes from recent Jewish history. Much of his music, such as the Symphony no.2 ‘Shirat Hadorot’ (‘Generations’ chanting’, ...