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James Wierzbicki

(b Tel-Aviv, Jan 15, 1946). Israeli pianist. He moved to the USA in 1962 to study at the Juilliard School of Music with Edward Steuermann and Ilona Kabos. In 1967 he made his New York recital début and won the Young Concert Artists Award; the following year he performed Beethoven's Piano Concerto no.4 in a nationally televised concert with Bernstein and the New York PO. After winning first prize in the Leventritt Competition (1969), he made his European début with Previn and the LSO in 1970. Since then he has maintained an active career as a recitalist and soloist, appearing with the Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago SO, Boston SO, Berlin PO, LSO and LPO and the Israel PO, and in Japan, Australia and Latin America. He has performed regularly with the violinist Jaime Laredo and the cellist Sharon Robinson since 1976, and in 1981 the three officially formed the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio; together with the Guarneri Quartet they presented Brahms's complete works for piano and strings in New York in ...

Article

Uri Toeplitz

(b Odessa, Nov 17, 1903; d Tel-Aviv, Oct 14, 1972). Israeli composer and violinist. The son of the Jewish actress Esther Rachel Kaminska, he grew up in Warsaw. After working as a violinist he studied composition in Berlin with Friedrich Koch (1922) and in Vienna with Gál. On his return to Warsaw he was made leader of the Polish RO and he founded the Warsaw String Quartet, which won the Marshal Pilsudski Competition in 1934. In 1937 Kaminski was invited by Bronislav Huberman to become one of the leaders of the Palestine Orchestra (later the Israel PO), then in its second year. He settled in Tel-Aviv and stayed with the orchestra until his retirement in 1969. His creative work was influenced by a range of sources from Gregorian chant to the music of Richard Strauss, and including the oriental elements of Israeli folk music.

The best of Kaminski’s work is found in the progressive Triptych for piano and two concertante pieces: the witty Trumpet Concertino and the Violin Concerto, a more powerful and dramatic work although its last movement is lighter, with a Jewish theme and Sephardi dance rhythms. Kaminski played the solo part at the work’s première in ...

Article

(b Rosenberg, Hungary [now Ružomberok, Slovakia], Nov 27, 1882; d Tel-Aviv, Jan 14, 1962). Israeli educationist and pianist of Hungarian birth, active mainly in Germany. After studying the piano with Kullak and Busoni and composition with Felix Draeseke in Berlin, he made frequent appearances as a concert pianist and began teaching at the Stern and Klindworth-Scharwenka Conservatories in Berlin. From his student days his political and cultural activities had developed his ideas about the role of music in education and had also equipped him with the organizational experience to put them into practice. In 1918 he became musical adviser to the Prussian Ministry of Science, Culture and Education, becoming in 1922 director of the newly established music department of the Central Institute for Education and Teaching. The institute organized in May 1921 a school music week, the first of eight annual events held in different German towns, where Kestenberg’s music reforms were explained and discussed. In the same year Kestenberg’s ...

Article

Alma Kunanbayeva

(b Erbol [now in Kokchetav province], 1831; d 1894). Kazakh traditional composer and singer. He was born to the family of Turlybai and began composing songs at the age of ten. He belonged to a special category of artists in Kazakh society known as sal and seri, masters of the art of song who usually functioned as part of a group which included those skilled in wrestling and horse-racing, dömbra players, storytellers, jewellers and masters of wit. Birjan was a talented aqyn (poet-singer) and took part in numerous aitys (contests), the most famous of which was with Sara Tastanbekova. He travelled throughout Kazakhstan and became well known. Many of his songs became widely popular, notably Birjan-sal (an autobiographical song), Leyailam-shrak (a girl's name meaning ‘my dear flame’) and Zhonïp aldï (literally ‘polished’, ‘shaved’). He also composed two songs based on verses by Abai Kunanbaev, in whose household he was on occasion a guest. Birjan's songs were characterized by a number of features including melodic originality, indissoluble unity of text and music, and the inclusion of his own name in the texts of his songs, many of which were autobiographical. Several legends concerning the creation of his songs also became well known. In ...

Article

Catherine Wojtanowski

(b Samakand, Tajikstan [Uzbekistan], Dec 28, 1920). Bukharan Jewish singer. From an early age, she immersed herself in Bukharan Jewish traditions, first under the influence of her father, a cantor, who died when she was six. Her original surname was changed to Kuinova in an attempt to avoid anti-Semitic persecution by the Soviet government. She began vocal lessons at the age of 14, performing first in her school choir and on Soviet radio. Renowned for her expertise in traditional music, she toured the Soviet Union widely, performed for foreign dignitaries and at state functions, and earned the award of Honored Artist of the Soviet Union. Kuinova also became an expert in shashmaqam, a traditional music of Central Asia which features texts that date from 15th century. In 1980, she immigrated to the United States, settling in Queens, New York, becoming an active member of the Bukharan Jewish musical community, and participating in the Soviet Jewish Community Cultural Initiative. She has performed in a variety of settings, often supported by two or three instrumentalists. In ...

Article

Miri Gerstel

(b Riga, Dec 22, 1903; d Haifa, March 24, 1967). Israeli composer and conductor of Latvian birth. He studied in Riga, at the Leipzig Conservatory, and privately with Scherchen and Glazunov. After working as an opera conductor in Saarbrücken (1926–8), he became the musical director and conductor of Rudolf von Laban's dance theatre in Berlin. He went on to conduct the Berliner SO (1929–32) and the Riga Opera (1932–4). In 1935, with the ascent of Nazism, he emigrated to Palestine. Between 1941 and 1947 he conducted the Palestine Folk Opera and Palestine Orchestra, and from 1950 to 1958 he was director of Kol Zion LaGola, an Israeli Radio Broadcast for the Diaspora. He settled in Haifa as an honorary citizen in 1962. As well as writing oratorios, chamber works and orchestral music, he composed many popular songs and incidental scores for theatre productions....

Article

Ury Eppstein

(b Tel Aviv, Jan 13, 1936). Israeli composer and conductor. He studied at the New Jerusalem Academy of Music (1951–3), including conducting with Eitan Lustig, and composition privately with Ben-Haim (1956–60) and at Columbia University, New York, where he specialized in electronic music with Ussachevsky (1961–2, 1964–5). In addition he studied architecture and urban planning at the Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa (BA 1960), and at Columbia (1961–2), and philosophy at Tel-Aviv University (MA 1974). He was a founder and conductor of the Israel National Youth Orchestra (1953–7, 1970–4), the Tel-Aviv Municipality Youth Orchestra (1956–60) and the Technion SO (1958–60). He was also chairman of the Israel League of Composers and the ISCM Israel section (1970–4, 1981–8) and taught at the Jerusalem Rubin Academy of Music and Dance (1972–3...

Article

Margaret Campbell

(b Riga, Jan 10, 1948). Israeli cellist of Latvian birth . He had his first lessons at the age of eight, attended Children's Music School and Riga Conservatory and in 1965 moved to Leningrad. In 1966 he won a major prize in the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, after which he studied with Rostropovich at the Moscow Conservatory. In 1970 he was imprisoned for 14 months in a labour camp near Gor′kiy, and in 1972 left the USSR for Israel. From this time he followed an increasingly successful solo career: his US début was at Carnegie Hall in 1973, and his London concerto début with the RPO in 1976, followed in 1977 by a recital début with Lupu at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Maisky later established a duo with Martha Argerich, with whom he has made many recordings, among them outstanding performances of the complete Beethoven sonatas and the sonatas by Franck and Debussy. His recording of Brahms's Double Concerto with Gidon Kremer and the Vienna PO under Bernstein is also notable, though his recordings of the Dvořák and Shostakovich cello concertos have been criticized for their idiosyncrasy and rhythmic wilfulness. Rostropovich has said of Maisky's playing that it ‘combines poetry and exquisite delicacy with great temperament and brilliant technique’. He plays a Domenico Montagnana cello dated ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Haifa, July 2, 1949). Israeli soprano. She studied in Italy and in 1976 sang Leonora (Il trovatore) in Stockholm. She also sang Leonora with the WNO (1977) and the First Lady at Glyndebourne (1978); at Wexford (1978–9) she sang Marta (...

Article

Margaret Campbell

(b Moscow, Oct 30, 1957). Israeli violinist, viola player and conductor of Russian birth . He studied in Israel with Ilona Feher from 1964 to 1973, and made his début with the Israel PO under Zubin Mehta in 1968. In 1973 he went to the USA for his Carnegie Hall début and to study with Dorothy DeLay at the Juilliard School. In 1977 he made a major European tour, appearing with leading orchestras and conductors, and he has subsequently followed an international career as a soloist and chamber music player. He has given recitals with the pianists Itamar Golan and Georges Pludermacher, and as a member of the Golan-Mintz-Haimovitz Trio. He was music director of the Israel Chamber Orchestra from 1989 to 1993, and has also conducted the Israel PO and the Rotterdam PO; in 1994 he was appointed music director of the Limburg SO in Maastricht. Mintz has recorded both violin and viola repertory, and has been awarded the Grand Prix du Disque on several occasions. In ...

Article

William Y. Elias

[Ödön]

(b Budapest, Oct 1, 1907; d Tel-Aviv, July 6, 1977). Israeli composer, string player and teacher of Hungarian origin. Born to an assimilated Jewish upper middle class family, he was a child prodigy and studied the violin with Ormandy. Hubay heard him play the violin at the age of eight and took him as a pupil at the Budapest Academy of Music, where he also studied composition with Kodály. After graduating from the academy in 1924, he was leader of the Lucerne Stadtsorchester (1924–6) and the Budapest Konzertorchester (1926–7). In 1927 he moved to Germany, working as a soloist, and in 1933 he became first violinist of the Jewish Cultural Centre. At the end of that year he returned to Hungary, moving then to Baku to teach the violin and composition at the conservatory (1935) and returning to Budapest as leader of the Konzertorchester (...

Article

William Y. Elias

(b Prague, Sept 24, 1910; d Haifa, Dec 20, 1968). Israeli harpsichordist, pianist, composer and educationist of Czech birth . He made his public début as a pianist at the age of 12. He studied first at the Prague Academy of Music and later at Prague University (1929–31). In 1936, at the invitation of Bronisław Huberman, he settled in Israel. After gaining a distinction in the 1939 Geneva International Competition he became sought after as a performer; following an engagement at the 1947 Prague Festival he made lengthy annual tours abroad, appearing under, among other conductors, Klemperer, Paray, Dorati, Celibidache, Solti, Fricsay and Bertini. In 1939 Pelleg was among the founders of the Institute for Jewish Music Research, and in 1949 he became director of the music department of the Ministry of Education and Culture in the new state of Israel. In 1951 he moved to Haifa, where he was among the founders of the Haifa SO and its music director until his death; he was also music director of the Municipal Theatre from its establishment in ...

Article

Tully Potter

( b Tel-Aviv, Aug 31, 1945). Israeli violinist . He initially taught himself to play, first on a toy fiddle and then on a child's violin. At four he was stricken with poliomyelitis which left him permanently disabled. During a year's convalescence he continued to practise and he then entered the Tel-Aviv Academy of Music to study with Rivka Goldgart. By the time he gave his first solo recital, at ten, he had already made a number of appearances with the Ramat-Gan and Broadcasting Orchestras. In 1958 he played twice on the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ on television in New York and decided to remain there, making a nationwide US tour and entering the Juilliard School of Music to study with Dorothy Delay and Ivan Galamian. He made his Carnegie Hall début in 1963 and the following year won the Leventritt Memorial Award. In 1965 he toured his native country and in the ...

Article

Motti Regev

(b Kiriat Haim, Dec 25, 1950). Israeli singer, composer, guitarist and bouzouki player. During the 1970s he played in various rock bands which performed mainly at weddings. One of these bands became known as Benzeen in the early 1980s, when Poliker established what was to become a fruitful and long-lasting creative partnership with the lyricist and critic Yaakov Gilad. Benzeen became highly successful with its hard rock sound, but disbanded in 1984 after the release of its second album. In 1985 Poliker made two albums of rock-oriented interpretations of Greek songs, with Hebrew lyrics by Gilad; these recordings widened Poliker’s popularity beyond the young audiences of rock and marked his shift towards a sound based on Mediterranean and Middle Eastern elements. In 1988 he recorded Ashes and Dust, in which he and Gilad explored their experiences of growing up in Israel in the 1960s as sons of survivors of the Holocaust, and this album is widely considered Poliker’s masterpiece. His later albums, two of which are purely instrumental, include virtuoso performances on guitar and ...

Article

Jehoash Hirshberg

(b Russia, 1899; d Tel Aviv, 1968). Israeli critic, choral conductor and composer of Russian birth. In 1925, soon after his emigration to Palestine, he was appointed music critic of the newly founded socialist daily Davar, a position he retained throughout his life. He changed his surname from Rabinowitz to the more Hebrew Ravina in 1930. His frequent and detailed reviews, which insisted on a high standard of performance and programming, and sought a genuine Jewish musical style, were highly influential. In an attempt to bring music to the people, he collaborated with David Shor on an ambitious education project that included public lectures, the publication of popular music appreciation booklets and song anthologies, and the establishment of a nation-wide network of amateur choirs. He was also a strong supporter of contemporary music in Palestine. His many songs (around 60), mostly written for young children, were intended as part of a newly composed folksong repertory....

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 (...

Article

William Y. Elias

revised by Irina Boga

(b Iaşi, April 17, 1929; d Jerusalem, 9 May, 2009). Romanian-born Israeli conductor, composer, and violinist. He studied the violin (with Garabet Avakian) and conducting (with Constantin Silvestri) at the Bucharest Academy of Music (1945–7). In 1957 Rodan pursued advanced studies in conducting and chamber music at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary. He made his début with the Romanian RSO in 1953. In 1961 he moved to Israel and conducted the Israel PO, becoming chief conductor and music adviser to the Israel Broadcasting SO (1963–72). As a conductor he preferred post-Romantic and less extreme contemporary music. In 1965 he founded the Jerusalem Chamber Orchestra and, as its permanent conductor until 1969, toured with it to Europe, East Asia, Australia, South Africa, and the USA. Rodan appeared as a guest with various European orchestras and frequently conducted at the Israel and Arthur Rubinstein festivals, with such soloists as Rubinstein himself, Barenboim, Rampal, Perlman, and du Pré. In ...

Article

Richard Wigmore

(b Rochovot, Israel, Jan 14, 1960). South African bass-baritone of Israeli birth. The son of an Israeli father and an English mother, he emigrated to South Africa with his family in 1966. After studying singing at the RNCM in Manchester and at the University of Toronto, Saks made his professional début in 1982, in the title role in The Mikado at Stratford, Ontario. He learnt his operatic craft in Germany, singing with the Gelsenkirchen Opera from 1985 to 1988 and the Bielefeld Opera from 1988 to 1991. From 1992 to 1994 he was principal bass-baritone with Scottish Opera. Although he was admired in roles such as Leporello, this period was marred by clashes with the management over the company’s style of productions. He made his Covent Garden début, as Mr Flint in Billy Budd, in 1995 and the following year sang his first major Wagner role, Daland (...

Article

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

Michal Ben-Zur

[Kar’el]

(b Heidelberg, Nov 13, 1897; d Jerusalem, Jan 15, 1974). Israeli composer, conductor, singer and keyboard player of German birth. He studied the organ with Philipp Wofrum and composition with Richard Strauss. From 1920 to 1926 he held the position of conductor at the Hamburg Neues Stadt-Theater, and from 1931 to 1932 was baritone and stage director at the Deutsche Musikbühne. He emigrated to Palestine in 1933, where he was appointed programme director of the newly founded Palestine Broadcasting Service (PBS, later Kol Israel [‘The Voice of Israel’]), a position he held until his retirement in 1962; he founded the PBS Orchestra (later the Kol Israel Orchestra) in 1938.

Many of Salomon’s early works were destroyed. His music from 1933 is tonal with modal inflections, combining European traditions with folk influences to create a light, accessible style. The Sepharadic Suite (1961) incorporates Spanish melodies; popular material is also used in the Second Symphony ‘Leilot be’Cna’an (‘Nights of Canaan’, ...