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Noel B. Zahler

(b Buenos Aires, March 4, 1934). American composer of Argentine birth. He studied the violin as a child and began to compose at the age of 13. Subsequently he studied composition, theory and history in Buenos Aires, where his principal teacher was Graetzer. In 1958 he studied at the Berkshire Music Center with Copland and met there Babbitt, who encouraged him to move to New York to work at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center. He has taught at the University of Michigan (1964), the Instituto Torcuato di Tella of Buenos Aires (1965), the Manhattan School (1968–9), Yale University (1969–70) and City College, CUNY (1968–80). His association with Columbia University began in 1960 with his appointment as associate director of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center and ended with his tenure as professor of music (1981–93). In 1993...


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 ...


Véronique Roelvink

[Gheerken, Gerit, Gerrit, Gerryt, Gheeraert, Geerhart, Gerard, Gerart],[die Hondt, die Hont]

(fl 1521–47). South Netherlandish composer, born in Bruges, probably around 1495. He was the son of the Bruges tegheldecker (roofer/tiler) Jacob de Hondt, who originated from a family of Bruges city roofers, living in the parish of St Jacob. We have no information on Gheerkin’s musical education, in Bruges or elsewhere. The first trace of Gheerkin de Hondt as zangmeester is found in the archives of the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft, where he became coraelmeester on 3 June 1521. He left the church in 1523, and returned for the period from 1 August 1530 to March 1532. On 13 July 1532 he is mentioned as zangmeester of his home church St Jacob in Bruges, where he served until the end of 1539. On 31 December 1539 he received his first payment as zangmeester of the Illustre Lieve Vrouwe Broederschap (‘Confraternity of Our Illustrious Lady’) in ’s-Hertogenbosch, a joint position with the chapter of the church of St Jan, for which he had probably already applied in ...


(b Troyes; fl c1160–90). French trouvère, writer and poet. He was the author of the Arthurian romances and the earliest lyric poet in Old French. Although best known as the author of Perceval and Lancelot, he is also the earliest of the trouvère poet-composers whose name has come down to us. Some scholars have speculated that he was a converted Jew, owing to his unusual name and taking into account the presence of a large Jewish community in Troyes in the 12th century. He received a clerical education in Troyes, and later spent at least some time at the court of Henry I, Count of Champagne, where his presence is documented in the year 1172. Henry’s wife was Marie de Champagne, daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine by her marriage to Louis VII of France; it was probably in Marie’s ‘court of love’ that Chrétien was active, and the themes of some of his romances were inspired by her. Because of the prominence of the ‘matière de Bretagne’ in Chrétien’s works, and the family connections of the court in Champagne with England, it has been suggested that Chrétien visited England, but this cannot be documented....


Jos Wouters

revised by Leo Samama

[Zwaap, Alexander]

(b Amsterdam, Sept 10, 1919; d Amsterdam, July 1, 1988). Dutch composer. He studied medicine at Amsterdam University, but as a Jew he was forced to interrupt his studies during World War II. Van Delden was self-taught as a composer. Between 1947 and 1982 he was music editor of the daily paper Het Parool, and published many articles in Dutch and foreign periodicals. He held several administrative posts in Dutch musical life, including chairmanships of the Society of Dutch Composers (GeNeCo) and the Office of Music Copyright (BUMA). The first of van Delden’s works to attract attention was the cantata Rubáiyát, awarded the Music Prize of the City of Amsterdam in 1948. His Harp Concerto and Impromptu for solo harp were awarded prizes by the Northern California Harpists’ Association in 1953 and 1956. Many of his compositions were commissioned by the Dutch government, the City of Amsterdam and Dutch radio. Van Delden expresses his strong social concern in his works: ...


Fritz Hennenberg

(b Hamburg, Dec 19, 1894; d Königs Wusterhausen, June 28, 1979). German composer and conductor.

His grandfather, Moses B. Dessau, was cantor in the Hamburg synagogue. Dessau began violin lessons at the age of six and appeared as a soloist at the age of 11. In 1909 he moved to Berlin, where he studied the violin at the Klindworth-Schwarwenka Conservatory with Florian Zajic. When Zajic advised him to discontinue his violin studies, he decided to become a composer and conductor, studying privately with Eduard Behm and Max Loewengard. In 1912 he became a répétiteur at the Hamburg opera house. Thanks to his cousin Jean Gilbert, who had built up an operetta empire, he was appointed Kapellmeister at the Tivoli Theatre in Bremen in 1914. He began to establish his reputation as a composer in 1915 when his piano sonata was given its first performance by Bruno Eisner in Berlin. After serving in World War I, he gained more experience in the theatre at the Hamburg Kammerspiele, where he worked as both a composer and a conductor. He went on to hold posts as an opera conductor in Cologne (...


Paul Griffiths

revised by Jeremy Drake

(b Vienna, Nov 17, 1892; d Paris, Nov 22, 1982). French composer, teacher and conductor of Austrian origin. He studied at the University of Vienna (1910–15) and with Schoenberg (1913–20), also serving in World War I. During the 1920s he worked as a theatre conductor in several European countries and composed large orchestral scores for Pabst’s Die freudlose Gasse and Der Schatz. In Berlin in 1923, following the example of Schoenberg's Verein für Musikalische Privataufführungen, he founded an orchestra for private performances. He moved to Paris in 1924, and there gave the French premières of works by Schoenberg, Webern and Berg (including the Kammerkonzert in 1927). He also founded Le Miroir Jiddish, a Jewish theatre ensemble, which gave concerts in England. In 1934 he took up a chair at the University of Madrid, where he was musical director for the Casa Cinematográfica Aranjuez, but the civil war forced his return to Paris the next year. He then worked as a pianist and revue composer before volunteering for service in the French Foreign Legion (...


William Y. Elias

(b Odessa, Aug 3, 1940; d Los Angeles, June 7, 2006). Israeli composer of Ukrainian birth. He studied at the Odessa Conservatory (1958–65) with Starkowa (piano) and Kogan (composition) and at the Gnesin Institute (1968–71) where he completed the doctorate. In 1973 he moved to Israel, where he was appointed to a post at Tel-Aviv University. Though the works he wrote in the USSR were influenced by early 20th-century Russian music and by Hindemith, in Israel he turned to graphic notation and to specifically Jewish subjects.

(selective list)

Principal publisher: Israel Music Institute


Nathan Mishori

(b Warsaw, Jan 1, 1896; d Tel-Aviv, Dec 14, 1973). Israeli composer and teacher of Polish birth. He was brought up in his grandfather’s Hassidic home, where he absorbed Jewish folk and liturgical music and learnt to play the violin. A period in cosmopolitan Russia (1913–22) caused him to doubt the significance of his Jewishness, but back in Warsaw he regained his faith through Zionism. He taught music in Hebrew high schools and the Janusz Korczak orphanage, conducted the Hashomer Hatza’ir Choir, for which he arranged Jewish folksongs and composed, and founded the Hevrat Dorshei Musika Ivrit (Society for the Promotion of Hebrew Music) in 1928. In the previous year he had graduated from the State High School of Music, where he studied composition with Szymanowski, though the violin was his principal subject. He moved in 1929 to Palestine. In Tel-Aviv he worked as a teacher and choir director at the Lewinsky Teachers’ Seminary until ...


Ury Eppstein

(b Cranz, Sept 3, 1915; d Tel Aviv, Oct 30, 2003). Israeli composer of German birth. After initial studies in Germany, he went to Zagreb to study with Václav Huml at the academy of music (1934–8). In 1939 he settled in Israel, studying composition at the Jerusalem Academy of Music with Shelomo Rosovsky until 1944. Ehrlich taught in various Israeli institutions from 1940; in 1964 he was appointed to the staff of the Israel Academy of Music, which was incorporated into Tel-Aviv University in 1966, and from 1972 to 1983 he was professor of theory there. His works from before 1953 are in a late Romantic style, influenced by the melody and rhythm of Middle Eastern folk music in a manner typical of the Israeli ‘Mediterranean’ style. Later Ehrlich went beyond this by employing oriental elements such as micro-intervals, rhythmic structures, contrasting timbres and heterophony. In the late 1950s he began to use serial procedures, a development that was stimulated when he attended courses given by Stockhausen and Pousseur at Darmstadt in ...


Isabel Pope

revised by Tess Knighton

[Fermoselle, Juan de]

(b Salamanca, July 12, 1468; d León, late 1529 or early 1530). Spanish poet, dramatist and composer. He was born Juan de Fermoselle in Salamanca, where his father was a shoemaker; it has been suggested that he was of Jewish descent. One of at least seven children, he, like several of his brothers, pursued a career that brought him into contact with the higher echelons of society. Diego de Fermoselle was professor of music at Salamanca University from 1479 until 1522, and may well have taught his younger brother. Juan became a choirboy in the cathedral in 1484, where another of his brothers, Miguel, was a chaplain. By 1490, when he, too, briefly held a chaplaincy at Salamanca Cathedral (a position he was forced to resign as he was not ordained), he had adopted the name Juan del Encina, probably his matronymic, but also perhaps a conscious reference to the Castilian holm oak as well as the ilex of Virgil’s bucolic poetry which clearly exerted considerable influence over him. He would have coincided with the great Spanish humanist Antonio de Nebrija at Salamanca, where he studied law probably between ...


Edith Gerson-Kiwi

revised by Bret Werb

[Yuly Dmitrevich]

(b Berdyansk, Crimea, 4/April 16, 1868; d Tel-Aviv, Feb 11, 1927). Russian composer, critic, lexicographer and folklorist. He studied law at Kharkov University but soon turned to music, studying theory and composition with Taneyev and Ippolitov-Ivanov at the Moscow Conservatory (1893–7). From 1897 to 1919 he worked as a music critic for the newspaper Russkiye vedomosti. In 1901 his translation of Riemann’s Lexikon into Russian with newly written sections on Russian music was published in Moscow. Although an early opera, Esther, was performed in 1894, his work as a critic overshadowed that as a composer. Under the influence of the Russian nationalist music critic Vladimir Stasov, however, he turned his attention to Jewish folklore, collecting, arranging, performing and publishing the songs of eastern European Jews. In 1909 his first album of ten Jewish folksongs appeared in Moscow; a second volume followed later in the same year. Engel continued to promote his new interest with public lectures and a series of articles in ...


Andrew D. McCredie

[Wolf, Markus]

(b Lemberg [now L′viv], Dec 27, 1874; d Basle, July 19, 1951). German composer and conductor. He studied the piano with Herzogenberg in Berlin, and harmony and composition with Rheinberger and Thuille in Munich. After brief engagements as Kapellmeister in Saarbrücken (1906–7) and Lübeck (1910–11), productions of his ballet Rialon (Munich, 1911) and his opera Judith (Nuremberg, 1921) gained him recognition as a composer. He resumed his conducting career in Leipzig in 1920 and later conducted in Berlin (1929–33). In these years Ettinger showed a particular fondness for the Literaturoper, writing operas based on texts by Boccaccio, Friedrich Hebbel, Georg Kaiser, Goethe, Frank Wedekind and Emile Zola.

In 1933 the political situation in Germany forced Ettinger, a descendant of Eastern European Jews, to emigrate to Switzerland. There he began to compose Bekenntnis music in opposition to the Third Reich. Among these works are oratorios and cantatas on Jewish themes and texts, such as ...


William Y. Elias

(b Riga, July 1, 1928). Israeli composer of Latvian birth. She received her musical education at the Riga Music Academy and settled in Israel in 1972. That year she wrote a symphonic poem, Hakshev! (‘Listen!’), for mezzo-soprano and orchestra, setting a text of E. Narusi. In 1973 she founded the first music conservatory for new immigrant teachers in Holon and was its director for approximately ten years.

Feigin developed an innovative system for teaching children in groups and has frequently conducted workshops at music education institutions throughout Israel. She has specialized in writing piano and organ works (especially for four or six hands) for use in her group teaching of children, and numbers among her progressive studies arrangements of Israeli and feast songs. Her music inclines towards traditional harmonies, inspired by the Russian nationalist school, and incorporates a great deal of folk material. While still in Riga, she composed five ballets on Russian epics: ...


Jonathan Powell


(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 ...


James Freeman

(b Leningrad [now St Petersburg], May 15, 1936). Russian composer, active in the USA. After studying at Leningrad’s Institute of Naval Architecture (1953–9), Finko entered the Leningrad Conservatory (MM 1965), where his teachers included Vadim Salmanov. He emigrated to the USA in 1979, eventually settling in Philadelphia. His teaching appointments have included positions at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Texas, El Paso, Yale University and Swarthmore College, among others. In 1991 he became composer-in-residence for the Delaware Valley Opera Company. Among his commissions are works for the Fromm Foundation, the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and Orchestra 2001.

Finko’s Russian-Jewish heritage is an important aspect of his music, often providing the subject matter (especially for his operas and tone poems) as well as motivating the thematic content. Musorgsky and Shostakovich, the music of the Russian Orthodox Church and Jewish folksong and synagogue music are all clear influences on his style. He has been especially interested in exploring the possibilities of the concerto and has composed numerous works for solo instrument, or instrumental ensemble, and orchestra. His Viola Concerto (...


Wesley Berg


(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...


Jehoash Hirshberg

(b Haifa, 1946). Israeli composer and musicologist. She studied at the Music Teachers’ Training College (Tel-Aviv), the Rubin Academy (Jerusalem), New York University (MA 1975), and Bar-Ilan University (PhD in musicology 1995). She also studied Arabic language (classical and spoken dialects), culture, and history, and Hebrew linguistics at Tel-Aviv University (BA 1969–72). In 1996 she was appointed to a post at the Music Teachers’ Training College.

Fleisher is a very prolific and diverse composer. The ideology of East-West synthesis, which has concerned many Israeli composers, has been deeply ingrained in Fleischer’s personality. Her admiration for the qualities of Arabic poetry has found its expression in a series of settings that smoothly alternate between Western and Arabic idioms, as in the Ballad of Expected Death in Cairo. The trilingual Oratorio 1492–1992, written in commemoration of the expulsion of Jews from Spain, shifts freely between atonal and tonal harmonies, monophonic cantillation, and patterns borrowed from Spanish folk music. Her aesthetic attitude is best represented by her Hexaptichon, six versions of settings and interpretations of ‘I’m Sick of You’, a powerful Arabic poem by Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, ranging from a vocal performance in pure Arabic style (especially as recorded by the superb vocalist Etti ben Zaken) to a Western, two-piano version, and mixed East-West versions for string quartet, a cappella choir, and baroque ensemble....


Myriam Soumagnac

(b Asnières, Dec 19, 1947; d Paris, July 4, 2004). French composer. Before completing university courses in natural science, literary Arabic and ethnomusicology, he entered the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied with Olivier Messiaen and Pierre Schaeffer, receiving additional instruction from Antoine Duhamel. He won the Lili Boulanger composition prize in 1978, which was followed, from 1980 onwards, by further prizes from the SACEM and the Institut de France. During the 1970s he undertook 14 field trips to Africa, and between residencies at the Villa Medici, Rome (1979–81), and at the Casa Velasquez in Madrid and Palma de Mallorca (1983–5), he was a visiting lecturer at Kenyatta University College, Nairobi (1981–2). Appointed to a professorship in ethnomusicology at the Lyons Conservatoire in 1985, he subsequently extended his studies of oral traditions to the West Indies, Polynesia, Egypt and Israel. He was elected to the Académie des Beaux-Arts in ...


Sophie Fuller

(b Vienna, Oct 3, 1936). British composer. She came to England as a refugee at the age of three. Fox won a scholarship to the RCM, where she studied the piano with Angus Morrison and composition with Bernard Stevens; she later continued her composition studies with Jeremy Dale Roberts and briefly with Birtwistle. Her highly individual music is influenced by the traditional music of Hungary and Romania as well as ḥasidic niggun and Jewish liturgical chant. She has written for a wide variety of ensembles, from solo works such as Nick’s Lament (1984) for guitar to powerful orchestral music such as Osen Shomaat (1985). Her quartet Kaleidoscope (1983) won the Finzi Award. Her works have often been closely linked to music theatre: her puppet music drama The Bet, to a libretto by Elaine Feinstein, was performed at the Huddersfield Festival and in London at the South Bank and the Almeida Theatre. Her opera ...