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Jehoash Hirshberg


(b Romny, Ukraine, Feb 7, 1891; d Tel-Aviv, 1981). Israeli cellist, composer and scholar. His father was a klezmer musician. Stutschewsky studied the cello at the Leipzig Conservatory (1909–12). After returning to Russia, he was soon smuggled to the border to avoid forced conscription. A difficult period as an impoverished cellist in Paris and Jena followed. In 1914 he moved to Zürich where he met Joel Engel and became active performing Jewish music. He settled in 1924 in Vienna, where he became for a time the cellist in the celebrated Kolisch Quartet, which gave first performances of works by Schoenberg, Berg and Webern. He published articles in Jewish periodicals, mostly Die Stimme, corresponded with colleagues in Jerusalem and was involved with the founding of the World Centre for Jewish Music in 1937. A dedicated pedagogue, he also wrote a treatise on cello playing.

In 1938, immediately after the Nazi Anschluss, Stutschewsky and his wife Julia, a soprano, emigrated to Palestine. He was appointed inspector for Jewish music by the general council that ran the Jewish autonomy under British mandate. Despite the dismal economic situation, he organized concerts of Jewish folk and art music in Tel-Aviv, which he funded himself. He also presented lecture-recitals throughout the country, using his travels to collect and transcribe Hassidic tunes. He founded a string quartet with Kaminsky, leader of the Palestine Orchestra, and performed piano trios with Taube....


Alexander Knapp

(b Hohenems, March 30, 1804; d Vienna, Jan 17, 1890). Austrian cantor and composer. He was the first musician since Salamone Rossi to raise the standards of composition and performance in the synagogue. Three outstanding qualities made him legendary among Jews of the western world. First, his baritone-tenor voice drew admiration not only from the Viennese community whom he served as Obercantor from 1826 until 1881, but also from scholars, musicians (including Meyerbeer, Schubert, Schumann and Liszt), and even the aristocracy; in 1868 he became Knight of the Order of Franz Joseph. Second, his fiery temperament created a vogue among contemporary cantors, who tried to imitate both his singing style and his everyday deportment. Third, and most significant in the development of Jewish music, his compositions became the models upon which almost every newly emancipated congregation based its synagogue ritual covering the entire year. Schir Zion (music for the synagogue service), published in two separate volumes (...


William Y. Elias

(b Łódź, March 13, 1890; d Tel-Aviv, Feb 23, 1972). Israeli conductor and composer of Polish birth . After childhood studies in the violin, flute, piano and cello, he attended the Leipzig Conservatory, then moved to Cologne to study the piano with Neitzel, composition with Strässer and conducting with Abendroth. In 1918 he founded the Concert Society at Bad Godesberg and in 1920 was invited as a guest conductor to Frankfurt, Berlin and Cologne. At Leo Blech’s instigation he joined the Berlin Städtische Oper (now the Deutsche Oper) in 1924, and when Bruno Walter took over the direction of the company Taube remained with him for five years. At Berlin in 1926 he founded a chamber orchestra and choir, with which he presented rarely performed or little-known works, and some written for the ensemble. In 1935 he settled in Israel where he helped to build the orchestra that later became the Israel PO; together with Toscanini, Dobrowen and Steinberg, he was one of its principal conductors from its inception in ...


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 ...


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, ...


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 ...