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date: 13 November 2019

Braslavsky, Solomon Gregoryfree

  • Ann Glazer Niren

(b (Mokraia) Kaligorka, Ukraine, 24 April 1885/1887; d Boston, 31 March 1975). Music director, composer, pianist, and organist. Braslavsky likely received early musical instruction from his father, Hersh, a cantor at the Great Synagogue in Uman, Ukraine. Braslavsky later served as a Lieutenant in the Russian army, where he conducted several military bands. He studied at the Kaiserlich-Königliche Akademie für Musik und Darstellende Kunst and the University of Vienna. In Vienna, Braslavsky taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary and conducted the Jewish Choral Society and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, which performed several of his compositions; these early works are unpublished.

In 1928, Congregation Mishkan Tefila of Boston hired Braslavsky to serve as its music director, where he conducted the choir, played organ, and composed Jewish choral works, some of which also remain unpublished. Braslavsky’s music exhibits a synthesis of eastern European synagogue music and Western traditional tonal idioms. Important works include the collection Shirei Shlomo: Songs of Solomon (1964) and the piece Un’saneh Tokef (1962), published by Leonard Bernstein’s company, Amberson. Bernstein first experienced Jewish music as a boy at Mishkan Tefila, and, later, he often included stylized Jewish music in his own compositions, likely influenced by Braslavsky.

Significant collections of documents pertaining to Braslavsky are held in the American Jewish Historical Society (Boston, Massachusetts), the Congregation Mishkan Tefila Archive (Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts), the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (Cincinnati, Ohio), and the Leonard Bernstein Collection in the Library of Congress (Washington, DC).


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Musical Times
Journal of the Society for American Music