Joseph Achron

  • Four Improvisations, op. 63 (1927)

The Russian-born violinist Joseph Achron (1886-1943) earned an early reputation as a child prodigy and later found world fame as a concert soloist. Less remembered is that he was also an important twentieth-century Jewish composer. Born in the Russian shtetl of Lodzey (present-day Lithuania), the son...Continue Reading »

Leo Zeitlin

  • Five Songs from the Yiddish (ca. 1913-1921)

1. Eyli, eyli (My God, My God)
2. Iber di hoyfn (Over the Fields)
3. Patsh, patsh kikhelekh (Pattycake, Pattycake)
4. Shoyn nito der nekhtn (Last Night is Over)
5. Der kadish fun reb Leyvi-Yitskhok (The Kaddish Prayer of Rabbi Levi-Isaac Leo...Continue Reading »

Dmitrii D. Shostakovich

  • String Quartet No. 4 in D major, op. 83 (1949)

Dmitrii D. Shostakovich (1906-1975), the Soviet Union's greatest composer, was also a revered and controversial figure known equally for his passionate music and opaque politics. Though he was not Jewish, Shostakovich also strikingly advocated the idea of Jewish art music through supporting his Jewish...Continue Reading »

Michel Michelet

  • Elegie for String Orchestra, op. 4 (1923) Arr. by the composer for string quartet and piano

For decades Michel Michelet (1894-1995) was known in Hollywood as a leading film composer, responsible for more than a hundred film scores, including some of the classic film noir soundtracks of the 1940s and 1950s. What his movie music fans did not know was that the apparent Frenchman was actually...Continue Reading »

Aleksandr Zhitomirskii

  • Dem rebens nigun, op. 3 (1910) for string quartet

Today the composer Aleksandr Matveevich Zhitomirskii (1881-1937) is nearly absent from the history of classical music. But in his day he was an important figure in both the Jewish and Russian musical worlds as a composer and educator, respectively. Like many of his fellow Russian Jewish composers, he...Continue Reading »

Mieczsław Weinberg

Mieczsław Weinberg, also known as Moisei or Moyshe Vaynberg (1919-1996) is surely one of the twentieth century's most important and least known composers. He was born in Warsaw, the son of a violinist and Yiddish theater music director and graduated from the Warsaw Conservatory with a degree in piano...Continue Reading »

Sergei Prokofiev

Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was born in a small village in Russian Ukraine, the son of an agricultural engineer originally from Moscow. Beginning the study of piano at age three, he began to compose at six and produced his first opera when he was all of eight years old. He enrolled at the St. Petersburg...Continue Reading »

Szymon Laks

Szymon Laks (1901-1983) was born in Warsaw, studied mathematics for two years at the Vilnius University, and then entered the Warsaw Conservatory in 1921 as a violin and composition student. He left Poland in 1926 to continue his musical studies in Paris. In 1941, he was arrested by the Nazis and spent...Continue Reading »

Alexander Krein

  • Jewish Sketches, #2, op. 13 (1910)

Alexander Krein (1883-1951) was one of the leading modernist composers of the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s. He was born in the Russian city of Nizhni Novgorod into a family of traditional Jewish folk musicians. His father, Abraham, was a folk violinist, seven of whose ten children became professional...Continue Reading »

Osvaldo Golijov

  • The Dreams & Prayers of Isaac the Blind (1994)

Osvaldo Golijov (b. 1960) has emerged in the past decade as one of the most acclaimed and original composers in contemporary classical music. A Pulitzer Prize winner, he is highly regarded by critics and audiences across North America and Europe for his unique blend of traditional folk music materials...Continue Reading »

Joel Engel

  • The Dybbuk Suite, op. 35 (1922)

Joel Engel (1868-1927) was a composer, critic, and scholar widely regarded as the "father of modern Jewish music." Known in Russian as Iulii Dmitrevich and in Hebrew as Yoel, he was born on the Crimean coast of the Russian Empire, went on to receive a law degree from the University of Kharkov in 1890,...Continue Reading »

Mikhail Gnesin

  • Piano trio, "Requiem for Our Lost Children," op. 63 (1943)

Mikhail Fabianovich Gnesin (1883-1957) was one of the leading Jewish musical voices to emerge in early twentieth-century Russia and went on to occupy a prominent place among the first generation of Soviet modernist composers. Born in the city of Rostov-on-Don to a local rabbi, he came from a long...Continue Reading »

Solomon Rosowsky

  • Piano Trio "Fantastisher Tants," op. 6 (1914)

Solomon Rosowsky (1878-1962) was a pioneering composer in the Jewish national school who went on to have a huge influence in Israeli and American Jewish musical life, particularly as a scholar and pedagogue. A fourth-generation Jewish musician, Rosowsky had the distinction of being the son of one...Continue Reading »