Helen Medwedeff Greenberg was born in Baltimore, where she received her initial musical education. She completed her bachelor of arts degree in English and secondary education at Goucher College there. She pursued private composition studies, chiefly with Oskar Morawetz, Edward Laufer, and Srul Irving Glick; and she has been active as a singer as well. She was a longtime member of the Reform movement’s Guild of Temple Musicians.
Greenberg has written a large amount of secular as well as sacred music, and she has shown particular interest in lieder in Yiddish, Hebrew, and English. In addition to her song cycle Froyen shtime, songs of which appear in Volume 9, her works include an a cappella song cycle for mixed chorus, based on Hebrew love poetry; Magic Breath, a cycle for high voice (soprano or tenor), which is a collection of settings of poems either for or about children; Royt Knopsn Oyfn Shney, commissioned by the Holocaust Rememberance Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto; and another cycle for low/medium voice (baritone or mezzo-soprano) to poetry by the American poet Kenneth Patchen.
Greenberg spent much of her life in Montreal and Toronto, where she contributed measurably to Canadian Jewish musical life. She passed away on May 17, 2011 after battling cancer for many years.
By: Neil W. Levin