(b Yekatrinoslav [now Dnepropetrovsk], Dec 5, 1894; d Tel-Aviv, April 2, 1982). Israeli composer and singer. He emigrated to Palestine from the Ukraine in 1906. He studied at the Teacher's Seminary in Jerusalem where his teachers included Abraham Zvi Idelsohn. During World War I he moved to Egypt and enlisted in the British Army. After the war he returned to Palestine and, while earning his living as an accountant, took singing lessons with Jehuda Har-Melaḥ. A countertenor with a phenomenal ability to improvise, he travelled to the USA in 1923 to further his singing studies; there he specialized in improvisation and distinctive vibrato singing, similar in style to Arab-Bedouin singing or ululation. Commissioned to write an orchestral accompaniment for songs improvised in a Bedouin style, he enlisted the compositional assistance of Lazar Seminski, who encouraged him to continue to compose. His first songs, Ya leil (‘Oh night’) and ...
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 ...
(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 ...
(b London, Sept 7, 1731; d London, Feb 9, 1765). Soprano and composer of Italian descent. She was a daughter of Charles Gambarini, counsellor to the Landgrave of Hessen-Kassel. She took the second soprano part at the first performance of Handel’s Occasional Oratorio in 1746, and in the Covent Garden revival a year later assumed most of Duparc’s role as well. She created the Israelite Woman in Judas Maccabaeus in 1747, and probably sang Asenath in Joseph and his Brethren the same year. Her name appears in the performing scores of Samson and Messiah, but it is not certain when she sang in these works. Her voice seems to have been a mezzo with a regular compass of d′ to g″, extended occasionally down to b and up to a″. About 1748–50 she published some harpsichord pieces and songs in Italian and English, including a setting of ‘Honour, riches, marriage-blessing’ from ...
Michael Dubiaga Jr
(b Verona, Dec 30, 1741; d Verona, Jan 4, 1809). Italian composer and singer. He entered the choir school at Verona Cathedral in March 1755 where, in addition to the academic curriculum, he studied plainsong and counterpoint under the maestro di cappella Daniel dal Barba. After his ordination he joined the chapter choir as cappellano and from 1775 was a bass in the cathedral choir. In addition to clerical duties at a local church, he probably served as apprentice to Dal Barba. In December 1779 Giacometti assumed full teaching responsibilities at the choir school and was accorded rights of succession to the cathedral position on Dal Barba’s death. From 1789 he was the leading composer at the cathedral, where he continued in service until the end of his life.
Of special interest among Giacometti’s compositions are an expressive Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel and the virtuoso lectiones for Holy Week in which simple recitative sections alternate with florid solo passages. A small instrumental complement of two violas and violone is often used in his choral music; full orchestral ensembles were used only in pontifical celebrations. A facile declamatory style with little melodic inventiveness prevails in many works, especially his responsories, but occasionally contrasts of key and metre create striking effects. Giacometti’s compositions retained popularity into the 19th century; in Spagnolo’s opinion he ‘was justly considered the most skilful composer of his time’....
(b Kiev, June 1, 1898; d Tel-Aviv, Jan 27, 1964). Israeli cantor and composer of Ukrainian birth. Born into a family of cantors (both of his grandfathers were cantors, as was his father), he made his cantorial début in Kiev at the age of eight. At the age of 14 he became the choir director at his father's synagogue, where he helped to introduce the 19th-century polyphonic repertory. He studied the piano and theory at the Totovsky Conservatory and later counterpoint and composition with Glière. In 1920 he moved to Chişinău, now in Moldova, where he served as cantor and continued his studies with Abraham Berkowitsch (known as Kalechnik), an authority on cantorial recitatives. After emigrating to the USA in 1926 he served as cantor for congregations in New York and Los Angeles. His extensive recordings with Asch and RCA Victor made him famous in Ashkenazi Jewish communities. In ...
(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 ...
(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 ...
(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’, ...
(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 (...