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Article

Miri Gerstel

(b Jerusalem, Jan 22, 1954). Israeli composer. He studied composition at the Guildhall School in London (1978–9), with Mark Kopytman at the Rubin Academy in Jerusalem (graduated 1983), and with George Crumb and Richard Wernick at the University of Pennsylvania (PhD, 1987). Since 1987 he has been teaching at the Rubin Academy. He was the chairman of the Israeli Composers' League (1994–5).

His compositions tend to amalgamate different styles, for example aleatory means and proportional notation in Rubaiyat (1982) and atonal, extreme chromaticism with heterophony in the Sinfonia cromatica (1993). In the latter, each of the three movements represents a family of colours (magenta, aquamarine and white light) and the chromatic scale is developed as an important motif. In the Elegy for Anna Frank he uses a metalphone, an instrument of his own invention made of 11 gongs of different sizes, to evoke the sound of a railway. Ben-Shabetai's compositions have been performed in Europe and in the USA....

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 ...

Article

Jehoash Hirshberg

(b Breslau, Jan 18, 1922; d Tel Aviv, August 27, 2014). Israeli composer. His parents settled in Palestine in 1923. After studying at the Israel Academy of Music with Alexander Boskovitch, among others, he was appointed to teach there when it merged with Tel-Aviv University in 1966. In 1975 he completed the MA in classical studies at the University, and studied Gregorian chant with Dom Jean Claire at Solesmes. He served as a jury member for prizes in Gregorian chant at the Conservatoire National Supérieur, Paris (1990, 1996, 1997).

In his early works Braun adopted the ideology of a national Israeli music, merging folklike dance patterns with cantillation motifs and modal chromaticism, as in his transparent Piano Sonata (1957). During the late 1950s and 1960s he composed several 12-note compositions, such as the Prelude and Passacaglia for harp (1967), retaining his predilection for simple melodic lines and consonant harmonies within the dodecaphonic context. Later works are more stylistically diverse. His Piano Trio no.1 (...

Article

Yehuda Walter Cohen and John Tyrrell

(b Prague, May 27, 1884; d Tel-Aviv, Dec 20, 1968). German-Israeli writer, translator, composer and librettist of Czech birth. He began piano studies at the age of six, and was then a pupil of Adolf Schreiber; later, after Schreiber’s suicide, Brod had some of his songs published and wrote his biography. He studied law and worked in Prague for a time as a state employee. He was a fine pianist and a composer (mostly of songs); his first published volume of verse (1907) earned the approval of Rilke, his first novel (1909) brought him notoriety. Thoughts on music are woven into his novels and poetry: his final book (1962) was a novelistic defence of Karel Sabina, librettist of Smetana’s The Bartered Bride, who was discovered to be a police informer. Brod was a friend of other German-Jewish writers in Prague such as Kafka and Werfel, and did much to promote their careers, becoming Kafka’s biographer and literary executor. His own talents and wide sympathies enabled him to become a prominent music and theatre critic (for the ...

Article

Alla Vladimirovna Grigor′yeva

(b Moscow, Feb 25, 1952). Russian composer. He graduated from the Moscow Conservatory where he studied composition with Khrennikov; he completed his postgraduate studies in 1981 and had become a member of the Composers’ Union in 1979. Notable landmarks in his career were the premières of his ballets Optimistichskaya tragediya (‘An Optimistic Tragedy’) and Ukroshcheniye stropivoy (‘The Taming of the Shrew’) at the Stanislavsky–Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre in Moscow (1985, 1996) and the performance of the Yevreyskiy rekviem (‘Jewish Requiem’) in Germany in 1994.

Bronner writes music predominantly for the theatre and makes extensive use of theatrical elements in other genres: the monumental examples of this can be found in Yevreyskiy rekviem for soloists, chorus and orchestra in which he sets a poem by Chaim Byalik in Yiddish alongside prayers, the address of Maimonid in Tvrit, lines from the diary of Anne Frank, lyric poetry from the Song of Songs...

Article

(b Rostov-na-Donu, 30 Oct/Nov 12, 1905; d Moscow, May 9, 1981). Kazakh composer. He developed a serious interest in music while serving in the Red Army, which he left in 1922 to spend a year at the Moscow Conservatory; in 1926 he entered the Leningrad Conservatory, where he studied with Steinberg, graduating in 1931. In 1933 he settled in Alma-Ata, where he began work in the research department of the Kazakh Music and Drama Technical College, studying Kazakh folksongs and kyui (programmatic fantasias for the dömbra, a plucked-string folk instrument); his folksong arrangements provided material for later compositions. From 1934 to 1938 Brusilovsky, who was of Jewish descent, was artistic director of the Kazakh Music and Drama Theatre (later the Abay Opera and Ballet Theatre), for which he composed works that laid the foundations of Kazakh national opera. In addition, he created the first Uzbek national ballet, ...

Article

Pier Paolo Scattolin

(b Bologna, between 1536 and 1539; d Bologna, probably on Dec 22, 1613). Italian composer and singer. He was a Minorite and was of Jewish origin. He is first heard of at Padua, where documents (in I-Pca ) show that on 2 May 1567 he was employed by the Cappella del Santo as a singer; this appointment was reconfirmed on 7 May 1569. He then moved to Bologna as maestro di cappella at the church of S Francesco and lived in the monastery attached to it. His presence there is sporadically documented between 1573 and 1590. A document dated 30 November 1591 registers his discharge from the monastery because ‘he had taken no pleasure in his service’. It also states that during his absences from Bologna he was active at Iesi, Faenza and Ripatransone (near S Benedetto del Tronto). By 26 October 1594 he was back at Bologna, but only in ...

Article

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

Don Harrán

[Civita, Davit ]

(fl 1616). Italian composer. He was one of only a few Jewish composers of art music in the 16th and early 17th centuries. It is not clear whether the name Civita refers to his place of birth (Cividale) or his surname, although the latter seems more probable. He appears to have had connections with Mantua and may have lived there. This assumption is supported by the dedication of his only publication, Premitie armoniche (Venice, 1616; ed. D. Harrán, Fragmenta polyphonica judaica, Jerusalem, forthcoming), to the Duke of Mantua, Francesco Gonzaga, and the presence in Mantua of several other Civitas, possibly from the same family, as well as by an archival document that records the death of his daughter, aged six, in 1630. Civita’s name does not, however, appear in court registers. Civita wrote in the dedication to Premitie armoniche that he composed the work while still ‘a young man of little intelligence’. The collection consists of 17 three-voice madrigals, similar in style to canzonettas, but with continuo. Eight works set texts by Ansaldo Cebà, Guarini, Marino, Tasso and Rinuccini....

Article

[Sarah, Sarra]

(b 1592; d Venice, 1641). Italian poet and amateur singer. In 1614 she married Jacob Sullam, son of the Jewish Mantuan banker Moses Sullam, who, along with his parents, was Salamone Rossi’s benefactor. With her husband and parents, she aided Leon Modena, a relative, in his publications (Modena was the moving spirit behind Rossi’s collection of Hebrew works, Hashirim asher lish’lomo, 1622/3). Copio hosted a literary salon in her home, where she served as patron to aspiring young writers, among them the Christians Giovanni Basadonna, Baldassare Bonifacio and Numidio Paluzzi. After reading Ansaldo Cebà's epic poem Ester (1615–6), she exchanged letters with the author during the years 1618–22; Cebà broke off the correspondence when he realized that he was making little progress in his attempt to convert Sara to Catholicism. Cebà published 53 of his own letters, omitting Sara’s, in 1623. In one, he refers to the pleasure of listening to Sara sing the heroic lament of Andromache from his epic, saying that old age and infirmity prevented him from leaving his native Genoa to hear her. Sara seems to have accompanied herself, on what may have been a Spanish guitar; in this she belongs to the Renaissance tradition of female poets who sang and played, with one difference: she is the only known Jewish female poet to have done so in her own time. Of her own poems, a handful were published among Cebà's letters and 14, some with noticeable musical imagery, were edited in ...

Article

Ronit Seter

(b Haifa, Israel, 7 Dec 1957). Israeli composer.

She studied at the Rubin Israel Academy of Music, Tel Aviv University (BA 1982) with Abel Ehrlich and Yitzhak Sadai, in Berlin with Dieter Schnebel (1983–4), at Bard College (MFA 1987), where her teachers included Eli Yarden and Joan Tower, and at the University of California at San Diego (PhD 1993) with Roger Reynolds and Brian Ferneyhough. She has taught at the Darmstadt summer courses (1990–98, 2004, 2010), where she received the Kranichstein prize (1992), at the University of California, San Diego (1997–2006), at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna (2006–9), and at Harvard University (from 2009), where she became the first woman composer to serve as a senior professor of composition. Her honors include an Asahi Shimbun Fellowship for a year residency in Tokyo (...

Article

Ronit Seter

(b Haifa, Dec 7, 1957). Israeli composer, active in the USA. She studied at the Rubin Academy of Music, Tel-Aviv University (BA 1982) with Abel Ehrlich, Sadai and others, in Berlin with Schnebel (1983), at Bard College (MFA 1987), where her teachers included Eli Yarden, and at the University of California at San Diego (PhD 1993) with Roger Reynolds, Ferneyhough and others. She has taught at the Darmstadt summer courses (1990–98), where she received the Kranichstein prize (1992), and at the University of California, San Diego (from 1997). Her other honours include an Asahi Shimbun Fellowship for a year residency in Tokyo (1993–4), a year residency at the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart (1996), a Heinrich Strobel Stiftung Fellowship (1997–9) and a commission for Ensemble Intercomtemporain employing IRCAM technology (1998)....

Article

Nathan Mishori

[Avraham]

(b Berlin, Oct 17, 1929). Israeli composer of German birth. He moved to Palestine with his parents in 1934 and began studies of the piano in 1945 and the oboe in 1947. Blinded in the [Israel] War of Independence of 1948, he studied theory and composition privately with Hajos for three years, and he graduated from the Israel Academy of Music, Tel-Aviv, in 1953. Two years later he had a string quartet, a piano sonata and some songs publicly performed. Parts of these works showed a personal expressive quality, which reached a highpoint in the sombre orchestral Alei yagon va’nocham (‘Metamorphosis of Grief and Consolation’). Earlier tendencies toward fast chromatic modulations developed into atonal writing in the piano Capriccio, the String Trio and the Lea Goldberg Songs (1962); the influences of Prokofiev and Bartók gave place to those of Schoenberg. The dodecaphony ruling the Movimenti quasi sonata...

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....