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William Y. Elias

Opera in two acts (16 scenes) by Josef Tal to a libretto (in Hebrew) by Israel Eliraz; Hamburg, Städtische Oper, 9 November 1971 (in German).

Inspired by an ancient Talmudic legend, and an allegory about totalitarianism, the opera is set in an idyllic, peaceful country. The King (lyric baritone) hates the Queen (mezzo-soprano), whom he married only to prevent war with her father, and is in love with the Landlady (soprano). In Act 1, the devil Ashmedai (tenor) appears one night to the King and suggests that if he, Ashmedai, could rule as king for a year, he could turn the peace-loving citizens into bloodthirsty savages while the King could live happily with the Landlady. The King has such faith in his people that he agrees to the bet, but as soon as Ashmedai assumes the physical traits of the King and ascends the throne the citizens turn into intolerant, aggressive killers. A terrible war breaks out, causing total destruction. In Act 2, Ashmedai has won his bet, but the real King refuses to reclaim the throne because his faith in his people has been shattered. Ashmedai changes into a rooster and is devoured, unknowingly, by the Queen and her entourage. The King returns to his throne but refuses to continue the war, despite the advice of his Son (tenor), the commander of the army, and is lynched by the furious masses. Ashmedai appears to the people but they refuse to believe the truth. In an apocalyptic scene the physical world disintegrates, leaving only the King’s naked body with his anguished, faithful Daughter (soprano) leaning over him....

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Elizabeth Forbes

(b Bucharest, c 1952). Israeli soprano of Romanian birth . She studied in Tel-Aviv and in Zürich, where she made her début in 1977 as the Queen of Night; in 1978 she sang the same role at Glyndebourne. Engaged with the Deutsche Oper, Berlin, from 1980, she has also sung in Hamburg, Munich, Vienna and Cologne and at La Scala. In ...

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Thomas L. Gayda

[Will; Williams, Hugh; Milos, André]

(b Vienna, Aug 11, 1894; d New York, Dec 10, 1939). Austrian composer, pianist and conductor. Born into a Jewish family of jewellers, he studied with the operetta composer Richard Heuberger, Robert Fuchs, the musicologist Guido Adler and Franz Schreker. After he left the Vienna Music Academy in 1919, his Zwei phantastische Stücke was given its first performance by the Vienna PO. The following year he received a doctorate in music from Vienna University. While he remained initially faithful to the late-Romantic, Impressionist line, he became the first Austrian composer to introduce jazz idioms into his music. His grotesque ballet-pantomime Baby in der Bar (1928) marked him as one of the prime exponents of the Zeitgeist of the Weimar era.

In 1927 Grosz moved to Berlin and became the artistic director of the new Ultraphon record company, quickly building up its catalogue as a conductor, arranger and pianist. He formed a well-known piano duo with Wilhelm Kauffman and toured Europe as a highly-sought accompanist and conductor. When the National Socialists seized power in ...

Article

Christopher Smith

(b Paris, Jan 1, 1834; d Paris, May 8, 1908). French librettist . He belonged to a distinguished Jewish family; his uncle was the composer Fromental Halévy, and his father, Léon, was respected in literary circles. On leaving the renowned Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris he had little difficulty, despite an unimpressive academic record, in obtaining civil service appointments. Plainly he had both ability and the benefits of patronage. His interests, however, lay in the theatre. Initially he adopted the pseudonym Jules Servières, and later, in 1858, when working with Crémieux on the libretto for Orphée aux enfers (with which Offenbach was to have such a significant success), he is said to have insisted that the credit and the royalties should go to his collaborator; at a time when his prospects in colonial administration were especially promising, he was afraid his reputation might be blighted by association with opéra comique...

Article

Fritz Spiegl

(b Berlin, March 22, 1925; d London, Sept 28, 1959). British artist, illustrator, musician and humorist. Of German birth and Jewish parentage, he was a refugee from Nazi Germany. Educated at Hornsey and Harrow Schools of art, he taught art briefly before devoting himself to a career as a freelance cartoonist. He was a contributor to Lilliput, Tatler and Punch magazines, among other publications. His early drawings suggest an influence of the German illustrators Wihelm Busch (especially his musical cartoons) and Walter Trier. In particular they feature musicians and their instruments, transfigured by Hoffnung’s distinctive imagination, high spirits and sense of fun. His paintings to Ravel’s opera L’enfant et les sortilèges, for which the librettist Colette wrote a special text, were exhibited at the Festival of Britain (1951) and subsequently published. A series of books of musical cartoons appeared almost yearly until Hoffnung’s death, since when five further collections have been published. In the mid-1960s, Halas & Batchelor produced seven animated cartoon films based on these drawings....

Article

J.B. Steane

(b Vienna, March 23, 1895; d New York, 15 Dec. 1974). Austrian soprano . She studied in Vienna and made her début at Frankfurt in 1917, appearing in small roles and achieving a first notable success in Il barbiere. After a season at Darmstadt she sang at the Volksoper in Berlin where her parts included Konstanze in Die Entführung and Violetta in La traviata. In 1926 she became principal soprano in Munich at the Bavarian Staatsoper. She enjoyed a spectacular success at Monaco as Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos and also became a favourite at Salzburg. Guest appearances at the Vienna Staatsoper in the 1930s seemed about to lead to a substantial career but as a Jew she found her way blocked, and after a heroic period with the Jewish Theatre in Berlin left Europe for America, where she married the writer Jack Siegel and gave up her public career. A delicately clear and beautiful voice combined with remarkable agility and an imaginative style help to place her few recordings among the most delightful of the period....

Article

Andrew Lamb

(b Paris, March 5, 1827; d Saint Germain-en-Laye, May 22, 1905). French composer. He entered the Paris Conservatoire in October 1841, gaining second prize for harmony in 1846, first prize in 1847 and the second Grand Prix in 1849. From 1847 to 1866 he was professor of solfège at the Conservatoire, and from 1859 professor of harmony for military bands. He became director of music at the Portuguese synagogue, and published a collection of Hebrew tunes in 1854. He was an early contributor to Offenbach's Bouffes-Parisiens with the one-act operetta Le duel de Benjamin (1855), followed by Le roi boit (1857) and several more. Les deux arlequins (1865) and Le canard à trois becs (1869) gave him success abroad, and their production at the Gaiety Theatre, London, led to a commission for the three-act Cinderella the Younger (1871), later produced in Paris as ...

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Kapelye  

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Barry Millington

(Petrovich)

(b Yaroslavl’, 17/Sept 30, 1917). Israeli director of Russian origin. He began his career as an actor in Moscow, first with the Second Studio of the Moscow Arts Theatre, and then at the Vakhtangov Theatre, with which he toured Europe in 1957. From 1964 to 1984...

Article

Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(d Kensington, London, bur. Aug 28, 1784). English soprano, actress and dancer. The daughter of a Jewish merchant (or tavern keeper) she made her début as Polly in The Beggar’s Opera at the newly opened Covent Garden Theatre in December 1732, with a run of 20 nights in succession. She played Deidamia in Gay’s posthumous ...

Article

O.W. Neighbour

(b Pressburg [now Bratislava], 1882; d Vienna, 1966). Austro-Hungarian writer and librettist . She came from a prosperous Jewish family and studied medicine, qualifying as a specialist in skin diseases in 1910. She married a psychiatrist, Hermann Frischauf. A convinced socialist by 1930, she joined the outlawed Austrian communist party but emigrated to Paris before the Anschluss and escaped to Mexico in 1940. In 1947 she returned to Vienna, where she continued to practise medicine until 1952.

As early as 1906 Pappenheim had published verses in Karl Kraus’s journal Die Fackel. Her importance in music is as the librettist of Schoenberg’s monodrama Erwartung (1909). After this collaboration she remained in touch with Schoenberg’s circle. She published a novel (1946) and a volume of poetry (1962).

E. Weissweiler: ‘“Schreiben Sie mir doch einen Operntext, Fräulein!”: Marie Pappenheims Text zu Arnold Schönbergs “Erwartung”’, NZM , Jg.145 (1984), no.6, pp.4–8...

Article

Bradford R. Devos

(b Constantinople [now Istanbul], Jan 6, 1903; d Long Island City, ny , Feb 28, 1974). American composer of Austrian descent. He studied at the Vienna Conservatory and later in Berlin with Schreker before emigrating to the USA in 1940. Settling in New York, he taught at the School of Sacred Music at Hebrew Union College and served as music director of the Free Synagogue in Flushing. He composed orchestral, chamber and vocal music, including three one-act operas. Isaac Levi, to a libretto by Ray Smolover, was first performed on 11 Dec 1956 in White Plains, New York. In a declamatory style with Romantic elements, it deals with problems facing contemporary Jewry, such as renunciation of faith, intermarriage and the Creator’s goodness. Satan’s Trap, to a libretto by Charles Levy after Gottfried Keller’s novel Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe, had its première in New York on 26 November 1961...

Article

Watkins Shaw

In a general sense, one who leads the singing in church (the cantor in a synagogue). More specifically, in the English dissenting churches and in Scottish Presbyterianism, the minister or layman who strikes up the tune for the congregation in the absence of an instrument; in cathedrals, an important musical officer among the clergy: ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Liegnitz, Nov 22, 1921; d Heidelberg, Jan 15, 1989). Israeli bass of German birth. He studied in Berlin and Mannheim, making his début in 1961 at Gelsenkirchen as Iago. Engaged at Stuttgart, he sang regularly at Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf and Berlin, where he created Soroker in Blacher’s 200 000 Taler (1969). Though his vast repertory included Don Alfonso and Hans Sachs, he specialized in 20th-century opera; he sang Dallapiccola’s Ulysses, Morone (Palestrina), Duke Adorno (Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten), Busoni’s Faust, Satan (Penderecki’s Paradise Lost), Reimann’s Lear and Schoenberg’s Moses (he has twice recorded the role of Moses). He created Löwel Perl in Penderecki’s Schwarze Maske at Salzburg (1986). The role that best displayed his outstanding musical and dramatic gifts was Dr Schön in Lulu, which he sang at Covent Garden (1981), at the Teatro Real in Madrid (...

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Geoffrey Block

(b Hammels Station, Long Island, NY, June 28, 1902; d New York, Dec 30, 1979). American composer. He was the second son of Dr William A. Rodgers (originally Rogazinsky) and Mamie Levy, Russian Jews who had emigrated to the United States in 1860...

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William A. Everett

(b Nagykanizsa, July 29, 1887; d New York, Nov 9, 1951). American composer and conductor of Hungarian birth. He was born into a cultured Jewish household: his father was an amateur pianist who spoke four languages, while his mother was a respected writer of poetry and short stories. Romberg studied at various places in the Austro-Hungarian Empire before eventually going to Vienna, where his parents’ intent was for him to study civil engineering. Instead, Romberg focussed on music, working as a coach and accompanist at the Theater an der Wien, and studying composition and orchestration with operetta composer Victor Heuberger, thereby absorbing the world of Viennese operetta. In 1909, he arrived in New York City and found work as a pianist at various restaurants. He formed and conducted a small orchestra at Bustanoby’s, a venue frequented by the theatre world, where he came to the attention of the Shubert brothers who, in ...

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Cori Ellison

(b Kraków, Jan 27, 1895; d New York, Oct 17, 1985). American conductor of Polish birth. His musical studies were in Kraków and in Vienna with Schreker. He began his career in the opera houses of Darmstadt (1922–5) and Wiesbaden (1925–7). He spent one season at the Metropolitan Opera, where he made his début directing Lohengrin in 1929. Returning to Europe, he was music director of Mannheim Opera (1930–33) and of the Jewish Kulturbund in Berlin (1933–6) until he was compelled to flee Hitler’s Germany; he then conducted in Tokyo from 1937 to 1941. In 1948 he began a long association with New York City Opera, culminating in his appointment as general manager (1952–6). After conducting in Cologne, 1958–9, he returned to the Metropolitan (1961–8), directing 175 performances of 16 operas, chiefly works of Mozart, Strauss and Wagner....

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William Y. Elias

[Karl ]

(b Heidelberg, Nov 13, 1897; d Beit Zayit, nr Jerusalem, Jan 15, 1974). Israeli composer and conductor of German birth . A pupil of Richard Strauss at the Berlin Academy of Arts, he became a répétiteur at the Berlin Staatsoper, sang at the Hamburg Opera and conducted in Baden-Baden. After settling in Jerusalem in 1933, he became the first music director of the Jerusalem Broadcasting Service in 1936. In 1938 he founded the Israel Radio SO (now Jerusalem SO), and from 1957 to 1962 he was director of the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s Transcription Service. In Germany he was active in reviving Handel’s Rodelinda and in 1944 he organized the first Bach and Handel festival in Jerusalem.

On his arrival in Israel, Salmon became influenced by the folk music of the region, which resulted in such works as the Symphonic Suite on Greek Themes (1943) and the Sephardic Suite...

Article

Salome  

David Murray

Musikdrama in one act by Richard Strauss to Hedwig Lachmann’s German translation of Oscar Wilde’s play; Dresden, Hofoper, 9 December 1905.

After the mildly scandalous success of his second opera, Feuersnot, Strauss needed a new subject. Wolzogen, his collaborator on Feuersnot, worked hopefully at another raffish one-act comedy, drawn this time from Cervantes, but Strauss did nothing with it. Then a young Viennese poet sent him Wilde’s Salomé, proposing to adapt a libretto from it; the composer was cautiously interested (he imagined it, incredibly, as a possible pendant to Feuersnot). Though Wilde’s French original had been a failure in Paris, and in England the play was banned by the Lord Chamberlain, a German version had been well received in Breslau in 1901. Using a new translation, Max Reinhardt staged the play in Berlin the following year with spectacular success. Strauss saw it early in 1903 and swiftly decided to set this Lachmann version of the text as it stood, except for judicious trimming (mostly of subordinate clauses, though also of some marginal dialogue and one or two small roles). He began in earnest as he put the last touches to his ...