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December 26, 1986 - Image 20

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-12-26

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4 o 4 t 10 1 0W 11 0 00, W101

PURELY COMMENTARY

Encyclopedic Anthology Of Musicians

Continued from Page 2

tides along with pictures of the
Jewish composers Mendelssohn,
Meyerbeer, Gustav Mahler, Jac-
ques Offenbach, Arnold Schoen-
berg, and others, retouched to
make the facial expressions ap-
pear sinister. Set in bold type were
quotations from Hitler, such as
"The Jew possesses no culture-
building power whatsoever."
The Nazis drove countless
Jewish musicians out of Europe
and banned performances of
works by Jewish composers. How-
ever, in the late 1930s the Nazis
made a terrifying discovery: the
nineteenth-century Johann
Strauss family of Vienna — the
most famous waltz composers in
history and the very symbols of
Austro-German culture — were of
Jewish origin! Johann Strauss I,
whose great grandfather was a
Hungarian Jew named Wolf
Strauss, tried to keep the family's
Jewish past a secret. He succeeded
so well that it was not till genera-
tions later that the fact was dis-
covered by a handful of people.
But in 1939, German cultural offi-
cials, having already lost many
other popular Jewish composers
and fearful of losing the Strauss
family, falsified the parish register
of Saint Stephan's Church in Vie-
nna so that no one would know
about the family's origin. Hence, it
was not till well after World War II,
when the Hitler influence was
buried, that the public became
aware of the Strausses' Jewish
connection.
The lengthy quotation is a necessity
for a summary of historical experiences.
They combine analyses of uphill battles for
recognition. The facts related introduce
the reader to a number of the large-scale
biographies of the notables in music.
Accounting for the difficulties at-
tained even in the emancipation era, the
author of this informative volume traces
the anti-Semitic trends.
Touching upon the legacies of notables
like Ernest Bloch, Abraham Zvi Idelsohn,
Abraham Goldfaden and a score of others,
Darryl Lyman thereupon comments upon
the "Who is a Jew" test and states:
In selecting musicians for
entry in this book, I had to face the
familiar question, Who is a Jew?
Many reference sources include
people whose Jewish connections
were extremely remote. In some
cases the Jewish lines existed only
as rumors. Even in recent times the
non-Jewish composers Georges
Bizet, Maurice Ravel, and Camille
Saint Saens have been listed as
Jews. The rumor regarding Bizet
was fed by the fact that he married
a daughter of the Jewish composer

-

Carnegie Hall

Continued from Page 2

Hall for his thunderous appeals for justice
in his leadership for the redemption which
resulted in the rebirth of the State of Israel.
It was in Carnegie Hall that Dr. Wise
introduced Nahum Goldmann into leader-
ship of the World Jewish Congress. Louis
D. Brandeis addressed gatherings there in
behalf of Zionism.
Great significance attaches to Car-
negie Hall, in music and Jewish activism.
Isaac Stern is properly blessed for having
given it new life.

Julius Chajes

Jacques Halevy. The confusion
about Ravel stemmed partly from
the similarity between his surname
and that of some French Jews and
partly from his friendships with
many Jews. Popular belief had it
that Saint-Saens's mother was a
Jew, a supposed proof being her
hooked nose; but genealogical evi-
dence shows no Jewish connec-
tion.
In this book, I have followed
the definition established by
Jewish law; a Jew is anyone who
was born of a Jewish mother or
who converted to Judaism. The
fact that the person later defected
and joined a Christian church
would not matter; according to
Jewish law the subject still is a
Jew.
The above definition forces the
exclusion of many musicians who
have some Jewish elements in
their backgrounds and who are
often listed as Jews elsewhere.
Examples include the conductor
Josef Krips, the singer Olivia
Newton-John, the film composer
Max Steiner, and the pianist Paul
Wittgenstein.
The opposite situation also oc-
curs. That is, a person not gener-
ally listed as a Jew (and perhaps
not regarded by himself or herself
as a Jew) can technically be in-
cluded here because of having a
Jewish mother, as in the case of
Rise Stevens.

The thumbnail sketches that follow
the major biographies will be judged by
many readers as having deserved chief
consideration. Such is the case of Ossip
Gabrilowitsch, who is sketched as follows:
(Born February 7, 1878, in
Saint Petersburg, Russia, now
Leningrad, the Soviet Union; died
September 14, 1936, in Detroit,
Michigan). Pianist and conductor.
In his late teens he began to tour
Europe and America as a pianist
and conductor. He gained particu-
lar fame for giving a series of his-
torical concerts (Europe, 1912-13;
America, 1914-15) illustrating the
development of various piano
genres. In 1909 he married the
American singer Clara Clemens,
daughter of the writer Samuel L.
Clemens (better known by his pen

Ossip Gabrilowitsch

name, Mark Twain). Immigrating
to the United States, Gabrilowitsch
served as principal conductor of
the Detroit Symphony Orchestra
(1918-35), raising it to a position of
international respect, and cocon-
ducted (with Leopold Stokowski)
the Philadelphia Orchestra (1928-
31). His pianism was noted for its
poetic qualities, with brilliance
being a secondary consideration.
He often appeared in joint recital
with his wife, who wrote a biog-
raphy of him: My Husband Gab-
rilowitsch (1938).

Numerous Detroit names belong in
the Lyman anthology. Regrettably, some
are missing. Seymour Lipkin certainly
earned a listing in Great Jews in Music.
the late Julius Chajes wrote indelibly
into the record and he is included among
the great Jews in music. His thumbnail
sketch is listed as follows in this volume:

(Born December 21, 1910, in
Lemberg, Galicia, now Lvov, the
Soviet Union). Composer and
pianist. In 1933 he won the piano
prize at an international competi-
tion in Vienna. The following year
found him in Tel Aviv, teaching
piano. In 1937 he immigrated to the
United States, where in 1940 he be-

came music director of the Jewish
Community Center in Detroit. His
compositions strongly reflect the
flavor of Jewish melos, and he fre-
quently quotes actual folksongs or
religious melodies. Chajes has
written a wide variety of instru-
mental pieces and vocal works, in-
cluding liturgical music. Among
his best-known compositions are
several cantatas on biblical sub-
jects, notably The Promised Land
(pub. 1951).
Abraham Goldfaden, as the founder of
the Yiddish theater, is among the un-
forgettable. He is recognized in the Lyman
volume as follows:
(Originally Abraham Golden-
fodim; born July 1840 in
Starokonstantinov, the Ukraine,
now in the Soviet Union; died
January 1908 in New York City,
New York). Playwright who
supplied music to his own plays.
Famed as the founder of the mod-
ern Yiddish theater (in Iasi,
Romania, in 1876), Goldfaden also
•had a musical impact. He could not
write music, but he adapted tunes
from such sources as synagogal
chants, Jewish folksongs, non-
Jewish folk and popular music of
eastern Europe, and French and
Italian opera arias. By touring
Europe with his troupe, he
popularized the tunes in their new
garb. His plays include The Witch
(1879), Shulamit (1880), and Son of
My People (1908). Goldfaden visited
New York City in 1887-89 and re-
turned to settle there in 1903.
Then there is the famous Ernest Bloch
legacies which enrich many aspects of
music with an emphasis on the Jewish
elements. Lyman introduces Bloch:
Ernest Bloch (1880-1959), com-
poser, evolved his personal style
through a mystical identification
with the Hebraic spirit. "It is the
Jewish soul that interests me," he
said, "the complex, glowing, agi-
tated soul that I feel vibrating
throughout the Bible" and "that I
strive to hear in myself and to
translate in my music."
The hundreds Of biographical sketches
in the Lyman volume, and his introduc-
tory, informative essay, form a fascinating
history of Jews in music. His Great Jews in
Music is a valuable contribution to histori-
caLdata about Jews and their share in
enriching the musical arts for mankind.

An Israeli soldier walks through a Gaza marketplace this month as Arab women don
plastic to protect themselves from the rain. The weather helped cool anti-Israel
demonstrations in the area.

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