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Article

Irena Poniatowska

(b Kalisz, 1849; d ?Berlin, after 1890). Polish synagogue cantor and later operatic baritone. He went to Warsaw in 1867 and studied under L. Sterling for two years; he then moved to Vienna, where he studied at the conservatory under Salvatore Marchesi. He made his début as Don Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia in 1874 in Vienna. He then sang in Italy (Mantua, Novara, Venice, Turin, Milan and Ancona) and for a season at Covent Garden. His next engagement was in South America, where he sang at Caracas; on returning to Europe he sang at Bucharest, then for three years at Dresden, with guest appearances in Vienna, Leipzig, Wiesbaden and Munich. Under contract to the impresario Maini, he concentrated on the Italian repertory and sang in Warsaw from 1882; there he scored successes not only in Italian works but in Lohengrin, Tannhäuser, Robert le diable, Les Huguenots...

Article

Israel J. Katz

[Aladar]

(b Budapest, Feb 29, 1884; d Los Angeles, March 3, 1976). Hungarian-American opera conductor, composer and musicologist. He studied at the university and at the academy in Budapest (1901–5), his teachers including Driesch (philosophy) and Koessler (composition). Thereafter he worked as an opera conductor in Cologne (1905–7), Mülhausen (1907–9), Brno (1908–11), Philadelphia and Chicago (1911–12), Hamburg (1912–13), New York (Century Company, 1913–14), Berlin-Charlottenburg (1914–16), Vienna (Volksoper, 1916–18) and Leipzig (1918–24). He remained in Leipzig as conductor of the Leipzig SO (1924–32) and as a student of musicology at the university (1930–32), where he took the doctorate. In 1932 he was music director of central German radio, Berlin, and taught at the Klindworth-Scharwenka Conservatory. He began to collect materials for a history of Jewish music, but this work had to be continued in Paris, where he was a radio programme director (...

Article

Stephen Plaistow

(b Eger, March 28, 1903; d Guilford, VT, May 8, 1991). American pianist of Austrian birth. His father, a Russian Jew, had eight children and moved his family from Bohemia to Vienna in order that his gifted son could receive from the pedagogue Richard Robert ‘a very strict and limited upbringing as far as the piano is concerned’ (Serkin's own words). In 1920, at the age of 17, he was considered too old to take further lessons by Busoni, who advised him to follow his own path. In his teens he also made the acquaintance of Schoenberg and his circle, whose ideas were ‘like a kind of leprosy to the Viennese establishment’. Serkin thought Schoenberg the greatest musical mind he ever encountered, and for a while he was an enthusiastic performer of his music.

The influence of the violinist Adolf Busch (his future father-in-law), whom he met in ...

Article

Ronit Seter

(b Montevideo, Jan 1, 1959). Israeli composer and guitarist of Uruguayan birth. After emigrating to Israel in 1974, he studied the classical guitar with Menashe Baquiche and composition with Jan Radzynski. He obtained the BMus (1984) and MM (1986) at the Rubin Academy of Music, Tel-Aviv University, where his teachers included Leon Schidlowsky and Seter. He began to teach at the Rubin Academy in 1995. One of the foremost guitarists in Israel, his honours include two ACUM prizes (1992) and the Prime Minister Prize for composers (1994). As a composer, Seroussi has drawn inspiration from a variety of sources, including Luis Buñuel's films, Henri Matisse's paintings and the poetry of Pablo Neruda and Antonio Machado. His style, influenced by European avant-garde pitch content and Latin American orchestration, tends towards new complexity. His orchestral composition Lux: in memoriam Mordecai Seter (...

Article

Margaret Campbell

(b Champaign-Urbana, IL, Feb 19, 1971). American violinist. He studied at the Rubin Academy in Jerusalem with Samuel Bernstein, and made his orchestral début with the Jerusalem SO at the age of ten, playing with the Israel PO under Mehta the following year. In 1982 he took first prize in the Israeli Claremont Competition, which provided a scholarship to study with Dorothy DeLay and Hyo Kang at the Juilliard School in New York. His subsequent solo career brought him engagements with the New York PO, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the LSO, the Berlin PO, the Frankfurt RSO, the Orchestre de Paris and others; in 1989 he caused a sensation when he replaced, at short notice, an indisposed Perlman, playing the Bruch and Sibelius concertos with the LSO at the Royal Festival Hall, London. He made his London recital début at the Wigmore Hall the following year. Shaham has also made a number of recordings, including an outstanding disc coupling the violin concertos of Barber and Korngold. He is possessed of a dazzling technique allied to a rich, colourful tone reminiscent of earlier generations of great violinists; but he also has the intellect and dramatic flair to transcend routine interpretations. He plays a Stradivarius dated ...

Article

Michal Ben-Zur

(b Tel-Aviv, Oct 15, 1950). Israeli conductor. He studied in Tel-Aviv with Noam Sheriff and in Vienna with Hans Swarowsky. Since his first success in 1980 conducting Mahler's Third Symphony with the Vienna SO, he has conducted such leading orchestras as the Berlin PO, the London SO, the Israel PO and the San Francisco SO; he has also appeared at many of the major European festivals and has conducted at leading opera houses, including Vienna, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf and the New Israeli Opera. He was musical director of the Düsseldorf SO, 1987–93, and was appointed musical director of the Jerusalem SO in 1992 and the Luxembourg PO in 1997. Shallon's repertory is wide-ranging, and he has given a number of premières, notably von Einem's Jesu Hochzeit (1980, Berlin). Several Israeli composers, among then Noam Sheriff, have dedicated works to him. Among his recordings are viola concertos by Bartók, Hindemith, Schnittke and Mark Kopytman, with his long-time partner, Tabea Zimmermann....

Article

Steven Johnson

(b Philadelphia, March 12, 1921; d Chicago, June 13, 2002). American composer and conductor. Raised in Philadelphia by Russian Jewish immigrant parents, he studied the violin with Emmanuel Zetlin (1937–42) and composition with Stefan Wolpe (from 1938). At the age of 16 he was selected as the youth conductor of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra. He graduated from public high school in 1939, but received no other formal education. During the early 1950s he taught at the Third Street Settlement Music School, New York and from 1956 to 1959 worked at the MacDowell Colony. At the invitation of Rochberg, he accepted a part-time position at the University of Pennsylvania in 1963. The following year he joined the composition department at the University of Chicago, a position he retained until his retirement in 1992. He also founded and directed Chicago University’s Contemporary Chamber Players and guest conducted such ensembles as the Chicago SO and the London Sinfonietta....

Article

Ronit Seter

[Arik]

(b Kibbutz Affikim, nr Tiberias, Nov 29, 1943). Israeli composer. He studied with two of the most influential Israeli composers at that time, Oedoen Partos and Mordecai Seter, at the Rubin Academy at Tel-Aviv University (BM 1968), but did not follow either stylistically. He turned instead to an extreme, politically motivated avant-garde style, influenced by Webern, Stockhausen, minimalism and the electro-acoustic music of the 1960s and 70s, an artistic direction which has led to his marginalization in Israel. A composer mainly of electro-acoustic music, Shapira is also an established private composition teacher. He was awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Composers (1986), and, more controversially, the Israel Prize (1994), only the fifth such award to an Israeli composer in 40 years. He started teaching part time at the Open University, Tel-Aviv, in 1986 and at the Rubin Academy, Tel-Aviv, from 1990 to 1995...

Article

Natan Shahar

(b Kherson, 13/Jan 26, 1901; d Afiquim, June 22, 1979). Israeli composer and violinist of Russian birth . He emigrated to Palestine with his family at the age of five. After studying at the Shulamit Conservatory in Tel-Aviv with Hopenko and Karchevski, he joined the ‘Ein Ḥarod Kibbutz, where he formed the Valley Quartet. In 1926 he moved to the Yagur Kibbutz. During 1929–30 he studied choral singing with F. Jöde in Germany. Upon his return to the kibbutz, he wrote many songs on texts by Rachel Blovshtain (1890–1931) and Chaim Nachman Bialik, as well as on versicles from the Bible and prayer books. In addition to songs marking the Israeli agricultural tradition, he wrote sermons for Jewish festivals, the most famous of which is a version of the Passover legend. Sharet's best-known works are the eight Anot collections (1937–9) which predominantly contain new Israeli songs. The final part of the collection includes 80 European choral songs, many of which were reset to Hebrew texts....

Article

Miri Gerstel

(b Tel-Aviv, Jan 7, 1935). Israeli composer and conductor. He studied philosophy at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem (1955–9). He started his musical training with Ze'ev Priel (conducting and piano), Horst Salomon (horn) and Paul Ben Haim (composition, 1949–57). He attended a conducting course with Markevitch in Salzburg (1955) and studied composition with Blacher at the Berlin Musikhochschule (1959–62). From 1972 to 1982 he was music director of the Kibbutz Chamber Orchestra. He taught at the Cologne Musikhochschule (1983–6) and was music advisor to the Israel Festival (1985–8). He was music director of the newly founded Israel SO from 1989 to 95, during which time he became the first Israeli conductor to include works by Richard Strauss in public concerts. He taught conducting and composition at the Rubin Academy in Jerusalem (1986–9) and from 1990 taught at the Rubin Academy in Tel-Aviv (director from ...

Article

Michal Ben-Zur

(b Kremenchug, Jan 22, 1905; d Tel-Aviv, Feb 20, 1990). Israeli composer and pianist of Ukrainian birth. While a student at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik, she studied the piano with Egon Petri and Artur Schnabel. She first travelled to Palestine in 1929, but decided to settle in Paris where she made contact with Arthur Honegger and Darius Milhaud, and studied composition with Nadia Boulanger, Edgard Varèse and Max Deutsch (1930–32). Her First Symphony (1935), originally scored for piano, was orchestrated in 1937 while she was participating in a course given by Enescu. After the German invasion of France, Shlonsky escaped to London, where she wrote her Piano Concerto in Two Movements (1942–4). She emigrated to Palestine in 1945. Considered an avant-garde composer, she found it difficult initially to have her works performed. As well as teaching the piano at Tel-Aviv University, she served as a music critic for several Israeli newspapers....

Article

William Y. Elias

(b Prague, Aug 6, 1908; d Tel-Aviv, Sept 30, 1980). Israeli conductor, composer and pianist of Czech birth. At the Prague Music Academy (1924–6) he studied the piano with Franz Langer and Ervin Schulhoff, and composition with Zemlinsky, winning a piano competition there in 1925. His début as an opera conductor was in 1926 at the Neues Deutsches Theater, Prague, with Kienzl’s Der Evangelimann. He conducted there until 1930, when he went to Hamburg to conduct the Staatsoper. In 1934 he returned to Prague, where he gave the first radio performance of the concert version of Dvořák’s first opera, Alfred. In 1939 he settled in Palestine and in December that year he first conducted the Palestine SO; he later became permanent guest conductor of this orchestra, and also of the Israel Broadcasting SO, the Israel Chamber Orchestra and the Haifa SO. He was among the founders in ...

Article

Robyn Holmes, Peter Campbell and Judith Crispin

[Lazarus]

Robyn Holmes and Peter Campbell, revised by Judith Crispin

(b Tianjin, China, Sept 10, 1934). Australian composer, pianist, and musicologist. Born to Russian-Chinese parents, he emigrated to Australia with his family in 1951. He studied the piano at the NSW Conservatorium of Music, Sydney, where his teachers included Winifred Burston (1952–8), and in San Francisco with Egon Petri (1959–61). On his return to Australia, he taught at the Queensland Conservatorium (1961–5) and lectured on contemporary composition at the University of Queensland. In 1965 he assumed the position of Head of Keyboard at the newly founded Canberra School of Music (now part of the Australian National University), where he became Head of Composition and Head of Academic Studies in 1978, and Professor Emeritus and Distinguished Visiting Fellow in 2005.

Sitsky first came to prominence as a composer at the inaugural Australian Composers’ Seminar (Hobart, Tasmania, ...

Article

Roksanda Pejović

(b Sombor, 1794; d Belgrade, 1870). Serbian composer and conductor of Jewish origin. He taught music in Šabac and held a conducting post in Novi Sad. Invited in 1831 to the court of Prince Miloš Obrenović, he founded and directed the prince’s Serbian Orchestra, which played in his Serbian Theatre in Kragujevac and Belgrade. In 1840 he moved with the court to Belgrade, where he was active until 1864. He was the outstanding figure of early Serbian stage life and composed and arranged music for several plays, containing overtures and vocal and instrumental numbers: many of the songs were influenced by Serbian or oriental folktunes and achieved wide popularity. Owing to its musical richness Ženidba cara Dušana (‘The Marriage of Tsar Dušan’; 1840, Kragujevac) is regarded as an opera, although Šlezinger conceived the music to accompany Atanasije Nikolić’s play.

S. Ðurić-Klajn: ‘Razvoj muzičke umetnosti u Srbiji’ [The Development of the Art of Music in Serbia], in ...

Article

Arthur Jacobs

revised by José A. Bowen

[György]

(b Budapest, Oct 21, 1912; d Antibes, Sept 5, 1997). British conductor of Hungarian birth. After giving his first piano recital at 12 he studied at the Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest, where his teachers included Dohnányi and Bartók for the piano, and Kodály for composition. After beginning his career as a pianist and accompanist he joined the Budapest Opera as a répétiteur, worked with Toscanini at the 1936 and 1937 Salzburg Festivals and made his début as a conductor at Budapest in 1938 with Le nozze di Figaro, on the night the Nazis marched into Austria. As a Jew he faced restricted professional activity in Hungary and left in 1939, spending the war years in Switzerland. Unable to gain a labour permit for work as a conductor there, he returned to the piano and won the 1942 Geneva International Piano Competition. In 1946 he was invited by the American military authorities to conduct ...

Article

Charles Barber

(b New York, Feb 12, 1945). Israeli conductor of American birth. After studying the violin from early childhood he studied at Tanglewood (1964) and the University of Indiana. He was leader at the Lyric Opera of Chicago from 1968 to 1970, making an unplanned conducting début in Don Giovanni when Ferdinand Leitner was taken ill in the second act. Further study in Berlin followed, including composition lessons with Boris Blacher. After working as a guest conductor in Europe, Steinberg served as music director in Bremen from 1985 to 1989, and was then appointed conductor of the Austrian RSO in Vienna (1989–96). He made his Salzburg début in 1990 with a concert performance of Krenek’s Orpheus und Eurydike and has been much admired for his conducting of opera at leading German houses and in Vienna, London, San Francisco and Houston. His recordings include several discs of light music and notably fresh, dramatic readings of ...

Article

Michael Steinberg

[Hans Wilhelm]

(b Cologne, Aug 1, 1899; d New York, May 16, 1978). American conductor of German birth. As a boy he composed and conducted (at 13 directing his own setting for chorus and orchestra of passages from Ovid’s Metamorphoses) as well as playing the piano and violin. He studied conducting with Hermann Abendroth at the Cologne Conservatory. After appointments at the Cologne Opera (as Klemperer’s assistant, then as principal conductor from 1924) and Prague (1925), he moved in 1929 to Frankfurt as music director; while there he conducted the premières of Schoenberg’s Von heute auf morgen and Antheil’s Transatlantic and an early performance of Weill’s Mahagonny. He also conducted regularly at the Berlin Staatsoper. After Hitler came to power, Steinberg’s activities were restricted to concerts for the Jewish Culture League in Frankfurt and Berlin. He emigrated in 1936 and was co-founder with Huberman of the Palestine Orchestra (later Israel PO) and, after the inaugural concert, conducted by Toscanini, became its first conductor. At Toscanini’s invitation he went to the USA in ...

Article

William Y. Elias

(Wolfgang)

(b Düsseldorf, Nov 27, 1918). Israeli composer and violist. He began to play the violin and to compose at an early age; during the years 1932–5 he wrote several works indebted to Reger, an influence which remained perceptible. In 1933 he studied under Eldering at the Cologne Academy, and in 1934 he settled in Palestine, where his studies were completed under Partos (1940–42). Steinberg joined the Palestine SO (later the Israel PO) as a violist in 1942; he has also appeared as a soloist and frequently as a chamber musician (he was a founder of the New Israel Quartet in 1957). From 1969 to 1972 he lectured on chamber music at the Tel-Aviv Academy. The Viola Sonata (1949) showed a first interest in Schoenbergian 12-note serialism, which came to dominate his work. (CohenWE)

Article

Michael Steinberg

[Eduard]

(b Sambor, June 18, 1892; d New York, Nov 11, 1964). American pianist and composer of Polish birth. His education as a pianist was with Vilém Kurz (Lemberg) and Busoni (Berlin). He was to have studied composition with Humperdinck, but was so shocked when asked whether he wanted to compose in the Brahmsian or the Wagnerian manner that he never went back. Busoni, therefore, sent him to Schoenberg. In 1912 he took part in the first performance of Pierrot lunaire, and he played in the premières of most of Schoenberg's later works. He was the pianist for the Verein für Musikalische Privataufführungen, founded in 1918 by Schoenberg, and introduced works by Skryabin and much new French music to Vienna. During his Viennese years (he emigrated to the USA in 1938), he was often the pianist for Karl Kraus’s readings and recitations. In 1952 the ISCM gave him its highest award, the Schoenberg medal....

Article

Jehoash Hirshberg

[Yehoyachin]

(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....