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Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music

Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music

the first Yiddish

the first Yiddish theatrical performance in the UnitedStates, and had then gone on in effect to found Yiddishtheater in America—introduced Secunda to the young,still undiscovered George Gershwin. Thomashevsky suggestedthat they might form a team to compose for hisprestigious National Theater, since he had just fallen outwith his resident composer, Joseph Rumshinsky (1881–1956), and was eager to find a replacement. Secundarejected the idea, citing—at least for the record—hisinability to relate to Gershwin’s jazz, rather than classicalor Jewish, orientation. But it is tempting to fantasizeabout the course Second Avenue might have takenhad Secunda been amenable. Meanwhile, he becameacquainted with Ernest Bloch’s music, and, struck by thelevel to which Jewish music could be elevated, he tooksome lessons with Bloch for about a year.star—as opposed to repertory—system. Without everabandoning Second Avenue altogether, he began turninghis attention to serious Yiddish poetry, with a viewto writing art songs. After an unsuccessful attemptto break into Hollywood, he accepted an additionalposition as music director of the Brooklyn radio stationWLTH, which programmed Jewish popular andfolk music and cantorial selections. There he alsowrote jingles, including some for Manischewitz, andinaugurated a children’s program, Feter sholom (UncleSholom). In 1932 he moved to WEVD (named after thefamous socialist leader Eugene V. Debs), which hadNew York’s largest Yiddish-speaking radio audience(“the station that speaks your language”).Cast of Señorita at the Rolland Theater in Brooklyn,1928. Music director Secunda, bottom row, fifthfrom left.In 1921 Secunda worked in Philadelphia for three yearsin order to qualify for New York union membership.Moshka, his first operetta with his own orchestration,was produced at the Hopkinson Theater in Brooklyn in1926. His children later recalled that by 1930 he wasalready becoming increasingly disillusioned with thebanal and unelevated level of much popular Yiddishtheater and with its artistically counterproductive8.559432 6Secunda conducting from the pit of the Yiddish ArtTheater, 1938.Between 1935 and 1937 Secunda wrote scores for atleast seven shows. He also began to experiment withincidental music for Maurice Schwartz’s Yiddish ArtTheater. It was for one of those plays that he adapteda Polish song to a Yiddish version—Dona, dona, whichbecame internationally famous, especially much later,in the 1960s, when it was recorded in English as afolk-type ballad by such singers as Joan Baez andTheodore Bikel.In the late 1930s Secunda began a rewarding artisticassociation with Cantor Reuben Ticker, who subsequentlybecame the international superstar opera

tenor Richard Tucker and reigned for many years atthe Metropolitan Opera House. Secunda arranged andcomposed a considerable amount of Hebrew liturgicalmusic for Tucker’s cantorial recordings and concerts, aswell as for his ongoing synagogue services, which hecontinued until his death. And Tucker became the principaladvocate of Secunda’s synagogue music.performances and on television broadcasts by RichardTucker. Secunda made no secret of his hope that hemight be remembered primarily for those classicallyoriented accomplishments rather than as a Yiddishtheater composer. That hope, however, in view of hisoverriding fame on Second Avenue, will probably gounfulfilled.In 1945 Secunda became the music director of theConcord Hotel, one of the two leading upscale resortsin the foothills of the Catskill Mountains (north of NewYork City) that catered to a Jewish clientele. He heldthat position for twenty-eight years, conducting holyday synagogue services and weekly summer concertswith full orchestra. Despite its popular and sometimescoarse “Borsht Belt” connotation, it was a serious musicalopportunity, especially when Tucker became theConcord’s cantor.By the 1940s, when Secunda had returned more fullyto the theater, Second Avenue audiences were beginningto shift from an immigrant-based to a nostalgiaorientedgroup, which led to increasing amountsof English interspersed with the Yiddish. Secunda’sscore for Uncle Sam in Israel (1950) reflects that trend.Although he claimed to have concluded his SecondAvenue career after The Kosher Widow, in 1959, he stillwrote for Yiddish shows in the 1960s. His final Yiddishmusical—produced as late as 1973, long after the thrivingdays of Yiddish theater had become memory—wasShver tsu zayn a yid(It’s Hard to Be a Jew), a musicalversion of a well-known Sholom Aleichem play thathad first been presented in New York in 1921.From the 1960s on, Secunda accelerated his energiestoward serious concert music. His aggregate output—in addition to more than eighty Yiddish operettas andmusicals, many dozens of independent songs, anddozens of cantorial-choral settings—includes a stringquartet, a violin concerto, and an orchestral tonepoem, all recorded for the first time by the MilkenArchive. His two major cantatas, If Not Higher, on afamiliar story by Yehuda Leib Peretz (also recordedfor the Milken Archive), and Yizkor, were sung at liveALEXANDER OLSHANETSKY (1892–1946) was also among the mostprominent and prolific SecondAvenue composers and conductors,and one of the musicallymost sophisticated exemplars ofthe Yiddish theater. He was bornin Odessa, the Ukraine, where hehad both a traditional Jewish anda modern Western-oriented gymnasiumeducation. As a boy, hesang in synagogue choirs and began violin studies atthe age of six—learning several other instruments aswell. He then played in the Odessa Opera orchestraand toured with them throughout Russia and Siberia,after which he became the choral director for aRussian operetta company. While in the Russian armyas a regimental bandmaster, he traveled to Kharbin,Manchuria, in northeast China, where he encountereda Yiddish theater group whose conductor was PeretzSandler—later the composer of the famous song Eli, eli.When Sandler emigrated to America, Olshanetskyreplaced him in Kharbin and also began writing Yiddishsongs and music for Yitzhak Kaplan’s play Tsurik aheymkayn tsien (Going Back Home to Zion). After touringSiberia, Japan, China, and India with another Russianoperetta company, he returned to Kharbin in 1921 tofind all Yiddish theater gone.In 1922 Olshanetsky emigrated to the United States,where his uncle Hyman Meisel (eventually his fatherin-lawtoo, when he married his Yiddish actress-singercousin, Bella Meisel [Mysell]) already lived. Olshanetskyhad some initial involvement with the Yiddish Art Theaterand then traveled to Cuba to direct a theater companythere. When he returned to New York, he served suc-7 8.559432

Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - The Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Download Liner Notes PDF - The Milken Archive of Jewish Music