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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

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 ...

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Alan Blyth

(b Buenos Aires, Nov 15, 1942). Israeli pianist and conductor. He was first taught by his parents and made his début as a pianist in Buenos Aires when he was seven. In 1951 the family moved to Europe where he played at the Salzburg Mozarteum, and thence to Israel. Back in Salzburg in 1954, he met Edwin Fischer and Furtwängler, both major influences on his future career. Studies at the Accademia di S Cecilia in Rome and with Boulanger completed his education.

Barenboim made his British début as a soloist in 1955 and his American début two years later, and first conducted, in Israel, in 1962. From 1964 he worked for some years with the English Chamber Orchestra as conductor and pianist, recording with them symphonies by Mozart and Haydn, and a series of Mozart piano concertos. Meanwhile he began an international career as a conductor. He directed the South Bank Summer Festival in London (...

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David Fanning

(b Moscow, April 3, 1948). American pianist of Russian birth. He studied at the Moscow Conservatory with Lev Oborin from 1965 to 1971, and took part in the Russian premières of works by Ligeti, Berio, Stockhausen and Cage, as well as the first performances of Denisov’s Ode and Schnittke’s ...

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 ...

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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

Bryce Morrison

(b Rio de Janeiro, April 22, 1948). Brazilian pianist of Russian-Jewish extraction. He studied with Jacques Klein (a student of William Kapell) in Rio de Janeiro and later with Bruno Seidlhofer and Dieter Weber in Vienna. In 1972 he won first prize in the Busoni International Competition and made his début at the Wigmore Hall, London. Wary of instant acclaim, however, he declined Deutsche Grammophon's offer of a contract and in 1976 returned to Brazil, where he gave concerts and taught maths and physics. A decisive change of direction came in 1981, when he replaced Martha Argerich at a concert in the Netherlands; his success in Bach's First Partita, Chopin's Four Ballades and Prokofiev's Seventh Sonata prompted his return to Europe. Cohen's distinctive elegance and dynamism create their own ambience, especially in the music of Liszt, several of whose works, including the rarely heard Grande fantaisie sur Les Huguenots...

Article

(fl Mantua, c1577–93). Italian harpist. He was one of a small number of Jewish musicians active in Mantua in the late 16th century. He appears to have been the grandson of Abramo dall’Arpa (not his nephew, as sometimes claimed) and, as his name implies, to have excelled as a harpist. His service for the Mantuan court may be dated from about 1577 to 1593. His name appears on payrolls from 1577 and 1580, though as Abramo. In 1587 he participated in a ‘water music’ entertainment to mark the baptism of a newborn member of the ducal family. In the same year, he accompanied the ill-disposed Duke Guglielmo Gonzaga to Goito, where he comforted him with his playing. In his Trattato dell’arte (1584), the poet and painter Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo referred to Abramino, his grandfather Abramo and Giovanni Leonardo dall’Arpa (from Naples, d 1602) as the three most prominent harp players of their time....

Article

Don Harrán

(d 1566). Italian musician. From his name it can be assumed that he excelled as a harpist. He is probably identifiable with the moneylender Abraham Levi, a prominent member of the Mantuan Jewish community. In 1542 he participated in a dramatic production at the Mantuan court, playing the part of Pan. He appears to have served the court under Duke Guglielmo in the 1550s and 60s. About ...

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

Kay Edwards

[Blue Butterfly ]

(b Madison, WI, June 4, 1959). American composer and flutist of Mohican descent (enrolled member of Stockbridge Band of Mohican Nation). He earned degrees in music composition from Northern Illinois University (BM 1981) and Arizona State University (MM 1990) and a separate degree in American Indian Religious Studies from Arizona State University (MA 1992). Davids merges his classical training in Western music with Native American elements that have been nurtured by many visits to Stockbridge Munsee Reservation, where his father was raised; in many of his pieces, native percussion can be heard alongside European instruments to create a colorful musical tapestry. Davids is also a concert flutist, famous for performing on his signature handmade quartz crystal flutes, as well as standard flute and native wooden flutes. He has written commissioned works for the National Symphony Orchestra’s 60th anniversary, Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion, Chanticleer, Zeitgeist, the Kronos Quartet, the Miró String Quartet, and the Joffrey Ballet. He has received awards from In-Vision, Meet the Composer, Bush Foundation, McKnight Foundation, and Jerome Foundation, among others. In ...

Article

Henry Sapoznik

(b Brooklyn, NY, Oct 4, 1912; d Plantation, FL, March 18, 2000) American klezmer clarinetist, saxophonist, and violinist. Though born in the United States, he was considered an equal of the great European klezmer clarinetists such as Dave Tarras and Naftule Brandwein.

Beginning his career at age 12 playing violin for silent movies, Epstein mastered the clarinet and later the saxophone, and played regularly on the Yiddish stage, on the radio, and in concert. The Epstein Brothers, including Max, Willie (trumpet), Isidore, or “Chizik” (clarinet) and Julie (drums), dominated the New York Jewish music scene for nearly three decades. They are best known for their playing in the Hasidic community in postwar New York, where they became the pre-eminent orchestra. They issued several recordings, including the classic LP Dukes of Freilachland (1958).

After a disastrous investment in a Yiddish theater, Max and his brothers abandoned New York for Florida, where they continued to play for weddings and parties. The number of people who requested the music they had mastered steadily diminished throughout the 1960s, however. The renewed interest in klezmer music in the 1970s brought them out of retirement. Their career was further enhanced when keyboard player Pete Sokolow (...

Article

Victor de Pontigny

revised by Paul Sparks

(b Heilbronn, 1802; d Styria, 1890). German jew's harp and guitar player. After an initial lack of success in his native country, he travelled through Switzerland in 1825–6, eventually arriving in Paris where he worked as a guitar virtuoso. In 1827 his op.1 (a set of 12 airs for solo guitar) was published by Richault in Paris, and in the same year he appeared in London as a guitarist and jew's harpist. He produced extremely beautiful effects by performing on 16 jew's harps, having for many years cultivated this instrument in an extraordinary manner. The patronage of the Duke of Gordon induced him to return to London in 1828; but he soon found that the iron jew's harp had so injured his teeth that he could not play without pain, and he therefore spent more time playing the guitar. At length a dentist devised a glutinous covering for his teeth, which enabled him to play his jew's harp again. He was very successful in Scotland and thence went to Bath (...

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

Annette Morreau

(b Kolomed [now Kolomyya, Ukraine], Nov 22, 1902; d New York, May 25, 1942). Austrian cellist, active in the USA. In 1909 his family moved to Vienna, where he studied with Anton Walter; he later continued his studies privately with Klengel in Leipzig (1917–19). At the age of 16, on Klengel's recommendation, Feuermann was appointed head of cello at the Cologne Conservatory, as well as cellist of the Gürzenich Quartet and principal cellist with the Gürzenich Orchestra. His successful career as a solo artist led him to resign his orchestral duties, and from 1923 to 1929 he toured continuously in Europe, including a recital tour in Russia with Artur Schnabel. In 1929 Feuermann succeeded Hugo Becker as professor of cello at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik, and with Hindemith and Joseph Wolfsthal (later replaced by Szymon Goldberg) he formed a string trio. As a Jew, he was dismissed from his position in ...

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

Ben Arnold

(b Florence, SC, May 23, 1917; d Boston, Feb 7, 1977). American pianist and teacher. He began his studies with Walter Goldstein in New Orleans. At the age of ten he entered the Curtis Institute, where he was a pupil of Isabelle Vengerova and David Saperton (diploma 1938). In 1940 he became the first winner of the Leventritt Award, and in 1941 he made his début with the New York PO in Carnegie Hall, performing Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto. He then embarked on an international career, making tours of the USA, Europe, Israel and Japan; in 1964 he performed 16 concerts in the Soviet Union. One of the first internationally renowned pianists to teach at an American state university, Foster held positions at Florida State University (1949–51) and then at Indiana University (1952–77), where he developed a reputation as an outstanding teacher. His playing was remarkable for its virtuosity and his repertory notable for including lesser-known works of the 19th and early 20th centuries. He made several recordings for the Musical Heritage Society, including two Mozart Concertos, Beethoven’s ‘Appassionata’ Sonata and Schumann’s ...