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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 ...

Article

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

Kathleen Dale

revised by Axel Helmer

(Emanuel)

(b Stockholm, Jan 19, 1860; d Stockholm, Jan 20, 1938). Swedish composer, organist and conductor. He attended the Swedish Royal Academy of Music (1882–6), studying counterpoint and composition with J. Dente, and was a pupil of Franck in Paris (1887–8). In Stockholm he was coach at the Royal Opera (1888–90), organist at the synagogue (1890–1928), music teacher at Norrmalm’s grammar school (1895–1923) and teacher at Richard Anderssons Musikskola (1897–1909). From 1886 he conducted several choirs, including the Bellman Choir (1895–1926), which he also founded, and the Philharmonic Society (1900–03). Åkerberg’s compositions often approach the style of Swedish folk music, especially the ballads Kung Svegder and Prinsessan och Svennen. They are technically sound but conventional.

MSS in S-Skma, Svenska Tonsättares Internationella Musikbyrå

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

(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

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

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

Don Harrán

(b Cesena, 1515; d Padua, 1611). Italian grammarian, poet and rabbi. He refers to music in his treatise on Hebrew grammar, ‘Arugat ha-bosem’ (‘Bed of spices’), which survives in both a manuscript ( GB-Lbl Add.27011) and a printed source (Venice, 1602). Subjects of special relevance to music include accentuation, metres and poetical forms. Under accentuation, Archivolti describes the biblical accents (ta‘amei ha-miqra), or melodic formulae used in cantillating the scriptures for marking the syntax and word stresses. Their purpose is to elucidate and embellish the text, thus increasing its hold on the soul. Referring to poetry, Archivolti draws a sharp distinction between the biblical (prose or psalmodic) texts for cantillation and the metric poetry for singing piyyutim, or post-biblical sacred hymns. His preference is for cantillation, which he calls ‘excellent music’ (ha-nigun ha-meshuba ), for it is adapted to the words in their structure and content. By comparison, the music for ...

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

Miri Gerstel

(b Saarbrücken, Sept 2, 1927). Israeli composer of German origin. He studied composition with Erlich, Ben-Haim and Seter, and the piano with Pelleg, graduating from the Israel Academy of Music, Tel-Aviv, in 1958. From 1961 to 1975, Avni served intermittently as the director of the AMLI Central Music Library. Between 1962 and 1964 he continued his studies in the USA: at the Columbia–Princeton Electronic Music Center with Ussachevsky and in Tanglewood with Copland and Foss. Avni later taught composition and served as director of the electronic music laboratories at the Jerusalem Rubin Academy of Music and Dance (1971–95); he was appointed head of the department of theory and composition there in 1976. From 1968 to 1982 he also served as editor of Guitite, the bi-monthly publication of the Israeli Jeunesses Musicales, and from 1978 to 1980 he was chairman of the Israeli League of Composers. Avni was appointed chairman of the jury of the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in ...

Article

Nicholas Temperley and Nigel Burton

(b Bedford, 1/July 15, 1802; d Leckhampton, April 16, 1890). English composer. E.F. Rimbault (Obituary, MT, xxxi, 1890, p.285) is alone in giving his date of birth as 1 July 1802. Barnett's father, Bernhard Beer, was a Prussian diamond merchant of Jewish extraction who is said to have been a cousin of Meyerbeer; on settling in England he changed his surname to Barnett. His mother, a Hungarian, died while he was a child. As a small boy John ‘sang like a bird’; in later childhood his fine alto voice attracted much attention. At the age of 11 he was articled to S.J. Arnold, proprietor of the Lyceum Theatre, London, making his first stage appearance in The Shipwreck on 22 July 1813, and he continued to sing on the stage until 1818. He studied the piano with Ries, Pérez and Kalkbrenner, and composition with William Horsley and C.E. Horn....

Article

John Snelson

(b London, Aug 1, 1930; d Hammersmith, April 3, 1999). English composer, lyricist and librettist of Austrian-Jewish descent. He studied at St Martin's School of Art and then became a graphic artist and scene painter. In the mid-1950s, as a member of the skiffle group the Cavemen, he wrote songs for its lead singer Tommy Steele, and also for Cliff Richard and Billy Fury. His subsequent songs for films starring Steele and Richard produced several hit numbers including Living Doll and Little White Bull. He worked on musicals for Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop at Stratford East, from where Fings Ain't Wot They Used t' Be, with lyrics inspired by cast improvisations, transferred to become his first West End success. In Oliver! (1960) he combined a Jewish modality (‘Who will buy?’, ‘You've got to pick a pocket or two’ and ‘Reviewing the Situation’), music hall (‘Consider Yourself’), overt sentiment (‘Where is love?’, ‘As long as he needs me’) and comic word play (‘That's your funeral’) to produce one of the most successful of all British musicals. The spectacular ...

Article

Jehoash Hirshberg

(b Munich, Oct 1, 1897; d Tel-Aviv, Jan 14, 1984). Israeli composer of German birth. After serving in World War I, he graduated from the Munich Academy of Music (1920) where his teachers included Friedrich Klose (composition). He went on to hold the posts of choral director and vocal coach at the Bayerisches Staatstheater under Bruno Walter and, in 1924, became Kapellmeister of the Augsburg Opera. He was also active as a pianist. His early compositions, written during these years, include the String Trio (1927), which demonstrates his fondness for stylistic pluralism in its juxtaposition of extreme chromaticism and jazzy rhythms, and works that display the influence of Orientalism ( Pan , 1931) and neo-classicism (Concerto grosso, 1931). His friendship with the Jewish composer and organist Heinrich Schalit (1886–1976) led to the composition of a number of a cappella motets on biblical texts, culminating in a setting of Psalm cxxvi ‘Wenn der Herr’ (...

Article

Gerald Bordman

revised by Thomas S. Hischak

[Baline, Israel]

(b Mogilyov, May 11, 1888; d New York, Sept 22, 1989). American composer of Russian birth. The son of an impoverished Jewish cantor, he was taken to America at the age of five. His father died when he was 13, and a year later he ran away from home, rather than be a burden to his mother. He sang for pennies outside cabarets, became a chorus boy, a stooge in vaudeville, a song plugger and a singing waiter. Berlin had no formal musical training, but taught himself to play the piano, if only in one key, F♯. He began churning out songs, usually serving as his own lyricist, and finally caught America’s ear with Alexander’s Ragtime Band in 1911.

Berlin had three phenomenally successful careers: he was one of Broadway’s most melodic composers, he scored some of Hollywood’s most beloved film musicals, and he was a Tin Pan Alley songwriter with more singles hits than any other composer. It was as a Tin Pan Alley composer that he found early success, but throughout his life he wrote many songs outside the context of a show or film. Among his popular hits were ...

Article

William Y. Elias

(b Brichevo, Bessarabia [now Moldavia], May 1, 1927; d Tel Hashomer, Israel, March 17, 2005). Israeli conductor and composer of Russian birth. Taken to Palestine as a child, he began violin lessons at the age of six. He later studied at the Milan Conservatory (1946–7), in Israel, and at the Paris Conservatoire (1951–4) while taking further studies with Nadia Boulanger, Chailley, Honegger and Messiaen. In 1954 he returned to Israel and taught conducting at the Music Teachers’ College, Tel-Aviv, and later at the Rubin Academy of Tel-Aviv University, where he was appointed a professor in 1975. In 1955 he formed the Rinat Choir, which quickly acquired a wide reputation and became the Israel Chamber Choir. Bertini’s orchestral début was also in 1955 with the Israel PO, with which he first toured the USA and East Asia in 1960. His British début was in 1965...

Article

J.A. Fuller Maitland

revised by Robert Philip

(b Aachen, April 21, 1871; d Berlin, Aug 24, 1958). German conductor and composer. In Berlin he studied the piano under Ernst Rudorff, and composition under Woldemar Bargiel and later under Humperdinck. He was conductor at the Stadttheater, Aachen (1893–9) and then at the Neues Deutsches Theater in Prague (1899–1906), where his reputation as a conductor and composer of opera became well established. In 1906 he was appointed conductor of the Royal Opera House, Berlin, where he became Generalmusikdirektor in 1913. In 1923 he moved to the Deutsches Opernhaus, Berlin, as artistic director, and this was followed by a year at the Berlin Volksoper in 1924, and a year at the Vienna Volksoper in 1925. In 1926 he returned to Berlin as conductor of the Staatsoper on Unter den Linden, and remained there, achieving great success, until, being Jewish, he found himself unable to return from a guest engagement at Rīga in ...

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

(b Kolozsvár [now Cluj-Napoca], Aug 16, 1907; d Tel-Aviv, Nov 5, 1964). Israeli composer and music critic of Hungarian origin. He grew up in a highly religious family – some of his forebears were Hassidic rabbis – which originated from the Moravian town Boskovice. Educated at the Jewish lyceum Tarbut in Cluj during the period in which it briefly flourished before forced Romanization and repression of the Jews in Transylvania, he studied the piano with Hevesi Piroska and then in Vienna with Victor Ebenstein. In 1927 he took advanced studies in Paris with Lazar Levi (piano), Dukas (composition) and Boulanger, which shaped his predilection for French music, in particular Debussy and Milhaud. Back in Cluj, he became, in 1930, one of the conductors of the State Opera and founded a fine Jewish amateur orchestra named after Karl Goldmark. In 1937 he contributed to a volume on Jewish topics with a study of contemporary Jewish music, the revival of which he related to the Russian influence on music after Wagner. He followed Sabaneyev’s example in regarding the collection and publication of Jewish folksong as a prerequisite for the emergence of such a music, stressing the linear, non-harmonic nature of Jewish musical expression. Concurrent with the essay, he composed ...

Article

Ronald Crichton

(b London, March 20, 1774; d London, Feb 17, 1856). English tenor and composer. His origins are obscure: both parents (his father is variously described as a German or Portuguese Jew) died when he was young. At the Great Synagogue in Duke’s Place the boy’s voice attracted the attention of the singer Leoni (Meyer Leon) and of the financier Abraham Goldsmid. Leoni, sometimes described as Braham’s uncle, trained him and introduced him as a boy soprano at Covent Garden on 21 April 1787, when he sang Arne’s The Soldier, Tir'd of War's Alarms, from Artaxerxes, and later at the Royalty Theatre, Wellclose Square. When Leoni went to the West Indies and Braham’s voice broke, with Goldsmid’s help he became a piano teacher. After his voice had settled he spent three years at Bath studying with Venanzio Rauzzini. He made some appearances there, and met Nancy Storace, a former pupil of Rauzzini. As a result he was engaged in ...