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Florinela Popa

(b Sighet, Aug 20, 1922; d July 29, 2014). Romanian composer and conductor. He began his study of music at the Lyra Conservatory in Bucharest (1940–42), but was forced to suspend his studies due to restrictions imposed on Jews and to study in private with Alfred Mendelsohn (harmony) and Eduard Lindenberg (orchestral conducting). After the war, he studied at the Bucharest Conservatory (1949–53) with Leo Klepper (composition), Constantin Silvestri (orchestral conducting), and Theodor Rogalski (orchestration). He worked as, among other jobs, artistic adviser to the Bucharest Philharmonic (1971–7) and instructor of choral ensemble performance and conducting at the People’s School of Art in Bucharest (1978–83). He worked as a conductor for several Romanian Philharmonics (Bacău, Ploiești, and Botoșani). He wrote choral, chamber, and symphonic music and concertos in a ‘moderate modern’ style. If his choral writing is characterised by the employment of tonal-modal consonant sounds, his instrumental writing often draws on such techniques as the ison, heterophony, and controlled aleatoricism, as well as elements of dodecaphony and electronic music. He was awarded the composition prize of the ...


Christian Poché

(b Nazareth, Dec 12, 1934; d Berlin, Aug 10, 1998). German ethnomusicologist and composer of Palestinian birth. He studied piano and theory at the Haifa Conservatory and composition at the Israel Academy of Music, Tel-Aviv, with Alexander Boscovich. In 1964 he received a scholarship from the Deutscher akademischer Ausauschdienst which brought him to Berlin, where he studied ethnomusicology at the Free University with Kurt Reinhard and obtained the doctorate with a dissertation on Arab music theory. From 1969 until its closure in 1997, Tūma worked for the Institute for Traditional Music, which published many of his short articles, reviews and interviews in its journal World of Music. He was also able to pursue private academic projects and study trips in south Turkey, Iraq and Bahrain. He initially analysed the maqām technique of improvisation, developing a theory of the non-temporal ‘tonal spatial component’ in its organization; later in life, he studied the contemporary role of the Arabic musician as well as the Moroccan ...


(b Medicina, nr Bologna, c1660; d after in or 1699). Italian composer. He came from a Jewish family, but he converted to Christianity and entered the Carmelite monastery in Bologna. According to the title-pages and dedications of his works, he was maestro di cappella of Ravenna Cathedral from 1691 to 1699. The statement (in EitnerQ) that he was maestro di cappella at Medicina in 1692 may stem from a misreading of the title-page of op.2. Vannini's extant music consists of sacred polyphonic works for voices and instruments; they reveal him as a composer of moderate significance and skill.


Theodore van Houten

(b Brussels, Jan 16, 1904; d Laren, nr Hilversum, Aug 9, 1976). Dutch composer. He studied with Henri Geraedts in The Hague and, from 1926 to 1927, with Dukas in Paris, where he was directly influenced by Roussel. He settled in The Hague, where he taught at the conservatory, was active as a pianist and choral conductor, and founded the Modern Music Study Circle. From 1936 to 1940 he was back in Paris as musical correspondent of the Nieuwe Rotterdamsche courant and AVRO Radio. Because of his Jewish background he fled in 1941 to Batavia (now Jakarta), where he was interned by the Japanese. During this period he took part in musical activities arranged for his fellow internees. Several of his earlier works seem to have been confiscated or destroyed by the Nazis. Among Vredenburg’s lost scores is the orchestral prelude to a Palestinian open-air play (successfully performed in The Hague before the war). From ...


Erik Ryding and Rebecca Pechefsky

(b Berlin, Sept 15, 1876; d Beverly Hills, CA, Feb 17, 1962). American conductor and composer of German birth. Born into a middle-class Jewish family, Walter attended the Stern Conservatory in Berlin, initially planning to become a concert pianist. Around 1889, however, he resolved to pursue a conducting career after hearing Hans von Bülow direct an orchestra. He obtained a position as vocal coach in Cologne, making his conducting début there in 1894 in a performance of Lortzing’s Der Waffenschmied. From 1894 to 1896 he worked in Hamburg under Mahler, who profoundly influenced Walter’s artistic development. Impressed by his protégé, Mahler found employment for him in Breslau in 1896, though the director there requested that Bruno Schlesinger change his name, ostensibly because Schlesinger was too common a name in Breslau, the capital of Silesia.

After appointments in Pressburg, 1897–8, Riga, 1898–1900 (where he met the soprano Elsa Korneck, his future wife), and Berlin, ...


Ronit Seter

(b Tel-Aviv, Oct 23, 1953). Israeli composer. After studying composition with Schidlowsky and Sadai at the Rubin Academy at Tel-Aviv University (BM 1979), he studied the piano at Northwestern University (MM 1980). He started teaching at the Open University, Tel-Aviv, in 1979, and the Rubin Academy, Tel-Aviv, in 1994. Weidberg initiated and organized ‘Music Now’, a series of Israeli music concerts at Tel-Aviv Museum of Art (1988–95), chaired the Israeli Composers' League (1995–7); he became the musical director of Musica Nova Consort in 1997. Influenced by Schidlowsky, Weidberg began his career as an avant-garde composer, but in 1980 he changed his style radically and adopted a witty and richly tonal style, influenced by Poulenc, Weill, Prokofiev and the neo-classical works of Stravinsky, epitomized in his Variations on a Theme by Mozart (1991). His gift for orchestration and contrapuntal skills are particularly evident in the concertos for piano (...


Charlotte Erwin

revised by Michael Meckna

(b Vienna, Feb 6, 1881; d New York, Aug 11, 1949). Austrian composer, naturalized American. After graduating from the Vienna Music Academy in 1902, he studied composition with Zemlinsky and musicology with Adler at the University of Vienna (PhD 1904). He served as a rehearsal conductor for Mahler at the Vienna Hofoper (1904–06) and taught at the Vienna City Conservatory (1918–28), before becoming professor of theory and composition at the University of Vienna in 1930. In 1938, with the annexation of Austria by Hitler, Weigl, who was Jewish, found that his works could no longer be performed. He left Vienna for the USA, where, after considerable difficulty, he obtained teaching positions at the Hartt School of Music (1941–2), Brooklyn College (1943–5), the Boston Conservatory (1946–8) and the Philadelphia Musical Academy (1948–9) among other institutions. He became an American citizen in ...


J. Bradford Robinson and David Drew


(b Dessau, March 2, 1900; d New York, April 3, 1950). German composer, American citizen from 1943. He was one of the outstanding composers in the generation that came to maturity after World War I, and a key figure in the development of modern forms of musical theatre. His successful and innovatory work for Broadway during the 1940s was a development in more popular terms of the exploratory stage works that had made him the foremost avant-garde theatre composer of the Weimar Republic.

David Drew, revised by J. Bradford Robinson

Weill’s father Albert was chief cantor at the synagogue in Dessau from 1899 to 1919 and was himself a composer, mostly of liturgical music and sacred motets. Kurt was the third of his four children, all of whom were from an early age taught music and taken regularly to the opera. Despite its strong Wagnerian emphasis, the Hoftheater’s repertory was broad enough to provide the young Weill with a wide range of music-theatrical experiences which were supplemented by the orchestra’s subscription concerts and by much domestic music-making....


Vivian Perlis

(b Kiev, Oct 24, 1897; d New York, Jan 10, 1982). American composer, pianist and conductor of Ukrainian birth, father of Yehudi Wyner. In 1914 he emigrated to the USA, where he became an accompanist and coach to prominent singers in New York, while studying composition with Frederick Jacobi, Robert Russell Bennett and Joseph Schillinger. He also conducted several choruses, among them the Workmen’s Circle Chorus (1930–67). From 1930 to 1975 he was music director of the Central Synagogue, and in that capacity was responsible for first performances of compositions by Ernest Bloch, Darius Milhaud and Joseph Achron, as well as of his own works.

A leading exponent of Jewish music in the USA and an expert on Yiddish art song, Weiner taught seminars at Hebrew Union College, the Jewish Theological Seminary and the 92nd Street Y. He served as music director of the WABC weekly radio programme ‘The Message of Israel’ for 35 years (from ...


Richard Henninger

revised by Elaine Keillor


(b Toronto, March 11, 1913; d Toronto, Aug 24, 2006). Canadian composer. He was one of the first Canadians to employ and champion 20th-century compositional techniques. His piano piece Spasmodia (1938) represents the first use of a 12-note series by a Canadian composer. Born to Polish-Jewish immigrants with little musical background, Weinzweig received instruction on the mandolin at the Workman’s Circle Peretz School before beginning piano lessons. At the age of 17 he joined the school orchestra at Harbord Collegiate Institute playing the mandolin, tenor saxophone, sousaphone, tuba, double bass and piano. He also worked as a freelance musician. He pursued his musical interest further at the local library where he engaged in score study, particularly of the works of Wagner.

In 1934 Weinzweig entered the University of Toronto where he studied counterpoint and fugue with Healey Willan, orchestration with Ernest MacMillan and harmony with Leo Smith...


Oldřich Pukl

(b Prague, Feb 13, 1862; d Prague, April 4, 1944). Czech composer and folksong collector. He studied in Prague at the conservatory (1873–8) and the organ school (1878–81) and privately with Fibich. He was organist of St Štěpán and choirmaster at the main synagogue of Prague (1881–2), a teacher at the music school of the Moravan choral society in Kroměříž (1882–3), a violinist in the National Theatre orchestra, Prague (1883–6) and conductor of the Švanda Theatre Company in Prague and Brno (1886–7). Subsequently he edited the monthly Hudební květy (1895–9), conducted the Academic Orchestra (1898) and worked as an accompanist (1896–1904), mainly for the violinist František Ondříček. From 1896 to the end of his life he gave most of his attention to collecting and arranging folksongs, particularly those of the Chodsko region, south Bohemia. Weis’s large and varied output was influenced mostly by Smetana and Dvořák and included three operas in Czech, two in German and six German operettas. His only work to have stood the test of time, however was the 15-volume collection ...


Bruce Saylor


(b Ivançice, nr Brno, Oct 13, 1912; d Long Island, NY, March 11, 1997). American composer of Czech birth. One of America’s most important composers of operas and large-scale song cycles, the literary merit of his works, their original vocal style, and their serious attention to musical and dramatic detail mark a significant contribution to these genres.

At least four generations of cantors and composers were present in Weisgall’s family’s background. His father was his earliest and strongest musical influence; Adolph Joseph Weisgal, a composer of synagogue music (b Scheps, nr Płock, Poland, 13 Dec 1885; d Baltimore, 15 Nov 1981), had sung opera professionally before entering the cantorate. From an early age, Hugo Weisgall absorbed both central-European Jewish musical traditions and the standard opera and song repertory. His family emigrated to the USA in 1920, settling in Baltimore; Weisgall became a naturalized American citizen in ...


Andrew D. McCredie

(b Berlin, Feb 22, 1922; d May 3, 2012). Australian composer of German origin. He received his early musical training from his father Boaz Bischofs Werder, a composer and conductor at a Berlin synagogue, and the Schoenbergian Arno Nadel. Following the rise of anti-Semitism in Germany, the family moved in 1934 to London, where Werder completed a patchwork education embracing music and architecture. In 1941 father and son were deported to Australia as voyagers on the notorious refugee ship ‘Dunera’; while interned at Tartura, Werder was able to work as a composer and arranger (the First Symphony would appear to stem from this period). After military service, he was active as a carpenter, music arranger, teacher in schools, and then lecturer for the council of adult education in Melbourne. As the most interdisciplinary literate of his generation, he became a lively and provocative force in public education and criticism. In ...


Helen Metzelaar

[Rosalie] (Marie)

(b Amsterdam, Feb 19, 1888; d Laren, May 27, 1949).Dutch composer. After gaining a piano teaching certificate in 1912 from the Koninklijke Nederlandse Toonkunstenaars Vereniging, she studied composition with Bernard Zweers and Sem Dresden. She also taught the piano and solfège at the Amsterdam Muzieklyceum. Deeply concerned about the social circumstances of the working classes, she gave piano lessons to poor children, conducted a children’s chorus in a working-class neighbourhood and financially supported a number of families. She also conducted the Jewish women’s chorus of the Religieus Socialistisch Verbond in Amsterdam. During World War I her song Neutraal was popular. She began her career writing mainly songs and choral works and after encountering the works of Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky her music became increasingly Impressionistic. In 1929 she moved to Paris, where she studied with Louis Aubert. Until 1935 her home in Paris was a meeting-place for many composers, including Elsa Barraine, Arthur Honegger, Jacques Ibert, André Jolivet and Messiaen. After spending a year in Vienna, where she studied counterpoint with Karl Weigl, she went to the USA, where some of her works were performed by the Composers’ Forum Laboratory in New York. In ...


David Charlton

(b Berlin, Sept 1, 1768; d Potsdam, July 11, 1826). German composer. He came from a cultured Jewish family whose circle included Lessing, Moses Mendelssohn and K.W. Ramler. After studying music with J.A.P. Schultz he went to Hamburg to produce his cantata (on Ramler's text) for the coronation of Friedrich Wilhelm II in 1787; Ramler also wrote the text for Sulamith und Eusebia, Wessely's cantata on the death of Mendelssohn the previous year. Wessely was appointed second music director of the Berlin Nationaltheater in 1788 and eight years later Prince Heinrich of Prussia made him Kapellmeister at Rheinsberg. When the prince died in 1802 Wessely abandoned his musical career for family reasons and became a government official at Potsdam, where in 1814 he was co-founder of a society for classical music, which he conducted until his death. He was recognized by his contemporaries as an able pianist and composer. His works, according to Härtwig, were endeared to a wide public by having the clarity of Gluck or Mozart. He published a comparison of these composers in ...


Natan Shahar

(b Warsaw, April 17, 1910; d Tel-Aviv, Jan 2, 1997). Israeli composer of Polish birth . Through the Zionist youth movement Ha-shomer ha-sa‘ir he met Isaac Adel, who founded and conducted a youth choir that sang Hebrew songs. Adel had a huge influence upon Wilensky, directing him towards study in composition and conducting at the Warsaw State Conservatory. On the completion of his studies in 1932, Wilensky emigrated to Palestine. Working as a pianist in the Mandate (Broom) Theatre, he became acquainted with the Yemeni singer Esther Gamlilit. He wrote a few songs for her in a typical Yemeni style. He also composed music for the documentary film company Carmel. In 1944 he was appointed in-house composer of the Li-la-lo theatre company. There he met the singer Shoshana Damari, who subsequently became the distinguished performer of his songs. During the Independence War, Wilensky and Damari toured and entertained troops; after the war in ...


Jehoash Hirshberg

(b Tel-Aviv, March 4, 1960). Israeli composer. He studied composition at the Rubin Academy, Jerusalem, and at Cambridge University (MA 1994). He is profoundly attached to the socialist ideology of the founders of the secular Jewish community in Israel, to modern Hebrew poetry, and to an ardent belief in the educational and human properties of music. This led him to settle in the kibbutz Sdeh Boker, where he founded a regional music school. He has also taught at the High School of Sciences and the Arts (from 1991 on) and at the Rubin Academy in Jerusalem (after 1996).

By means of diverse stylistic strategies and richly connotative quotation, Wolpe delivers his ideological messages and comments. His highly individual idiom is exemplified in works such as the Trio (1996), in which dense dodecaphonic writing contrasts with a lyrical folk-like tune and ironic quotation of modern pop music, or in his ...


Burt J. Levy

(b Timişoara, May 26, 1937). Israeli-American composer of Romanian birth. He emigrated to Israel in 1951 where he studied with Boskovitch (1959–64). Soon considered one of Israel's leading avant-garde composers, a Fulbright Fellowship enabled him to pursue further studies at Brandeis University (MFA 1966), where his teachers included Arthur Berger and Ernst Krenek, and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (DMA 1974) where he studied with Salvatore Martirano, among others. His doctoral dissertation on the music of Ligeti and Varèse proved influential to his later compositional style. In 1970 he joined the composition department at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and in 1971 founded the Music from Almost Yesterday concert series, dedicated to the performance of contemporary music. He has appeared as a guest lecturer, composer and conductor at festivals and conferences in the USA, Europe and Brazil. While his creative roots are European, by the early 1980s his music had become increasingly American. His compositions favour a postmodern synthesis of elements of 20th-century modernism and a concern for the ‘here and now’....


Gerard McBurney

(b Tashkent, May 28, 1934). Russian composer. Born to Russian-speaking parents of partly Polish-Jewish extraction, he studied the violin and composition at the Tashkent Conservatory, graduating in 1957 and 1959 respectively. He pursued a career as a violinist for a while: firstly in the Uzbek State SO (from 1954) and later as a member of the Uzbek Radio String Quartet. In 1961 he was appointed to teach at the Tashkent Conservatory and subsequently became professor of composition there. His works immediately suggest that he is a composer of Western sympathies – he has written symphonies, string quartets, set Latin texts from the Catholic tradition and written an opera after Anouilh. But given that he has spent his life in Asia, this alliance is in fact unusual and not typical of his background. Although Western music exerted a strong appeal on Soviet composers during the period during his younger years, Yanov-Yanovsky was doubly isolated by his existence in the then musically provincial Tashkent. His creative reaction to this political and geographical isolation was not protest but a patient construction of very personal musical bridges which reach out towards the European and even Russian traditions to which he felt closest and from which he might otherwise be separated. The result is a language of subtle culture and emotional generosity, in which surface modesty and reticence mask impressive strength and commitment of utterance. His particularly muscular and passionate string writing reflects his experience of playing the symphonic and chamber music of the Austro-Germanic tradition. It would, however, be wrong to suggest that he has ignored the Asiatic traditions which surround him: he has set texts by Asian writers and, more importantly and generally, he has brought an Eastern perspective to his forays into the Western mind....


Oded Assaf

(b Hungary, Aug 16, 1947). Israeli composer of Hungarian birth. He studied at the Rubin Academy of Music, Tel-Aviv (graduated 1968) with Seter, Boskovitch, Partos and others, and at the Guildhall School of Music, London (1978–9). A lecturer at the Rubin Academy, he has also directed the Israel Contemporary Players. His style can be described as atonal, saturated with sharp chromaticism and using serial and post-serial techniques that echo the European avant garde. In early orchestral works, such as Prelude (1978), textural and formal elements show an affinity with Penderecki's ‘cluster’ pieces; later, he adopted a more motivic and transparent style sometimes alluding to Central European early Expressionism. Works such as Four Poems of David Vogel (1986) and the String Quartet (1989) balance chromatic writing with the suggestion of tonal centres and strict forms. His music has been performed by leading orchestras and ensembles in Israel and Europe. ...