With the High Holy Days officially behind us and Hanukkah seemingly just moments away, we wanted to take a few minutes to celebrate the artists who have made Jewish music in America (and around the world) what it is today.
This month, we're spotlighting eight composers who were born in October:
Overview: Studied with several 20th century luminaries, including György Ligeti and Harold Shapero. Work spans a wide range of media and subject matter, from classical Greek and Indian mythology to contemporary literature of the Islamic world.
Overview: Studied with Max Helfman at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute. Completed a doctoral dissertation on the music of Leonard Bernstein. Became Bernstein’s assistant and publications director.
Born: October 13, 1912, Ivančice, Czech Republic | Died: March 11, 1997, Manhasset, New York
Genres: Chamber, Choral, Liturgical, Symphonic, Opera
Recommended Listening: Psalm of the Distant Dove, Esther
Overview: Earliest memory is of singing in a synagogue choir on Yom Kippur. Scion of a family of several generations of cantors and the Zionist leader and producer Meyer Weisgall. Completed a doctoral dissertation on primitivism in 17th century poetry. Highly esteemed composer of opera.
Overview: Family bought their first piano with reparations money from Germany (they had to choose between a piano and a car). Had to delay his musical education for military service in the Yom Kippur War. Composed a chamber opera on The Dybbuk in which Leah (the largely non-speaking female character) is the protagonist and Hanan (the dead male character) is a clarinet.
Overview: Directed Yiddish theater companies in China and Cuba, as well as the U.S. Was the first musical director of the Concord Hotel in the Catskill Mountains. Most famous song, Ikh hob dikh tsufil lib, has been covered by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Jan Peerce, and Carlos Santana.
Born: October 23, 1906, Greeley, Colorado | Died: June 18, 1996, New York, New York
Recommended Listening: Sacred Service
Overview: Studied with Roger Sessions and Lazare Saminsky. First Jewish work won the Ernest Bloch Choral Award (1947). Hugo Weisgall respected her work so much he recruited her to teach at the Jewish Theological Seminary and oversaw her completion of a doctorate in sacred music.
Explore: Artist Profile
Overview: Put Yiddish art song and choral music on par with its European counterparts. Was not particularly religious, despite spending decades as a synagogue music director and composing a considerable amount of liturgical music. Devotion to Yiddish poetry and music began with a chance encounter shortly after his immigration to New York.
Overview: Known for infusing classical and liturgical music with popular influences. Early proponent of the Moog synthesizer. Describes his creative world as a place where "Mozart dances with the Beatles and Carl Jung struggles to reconcile the opposites of our human soul.”