|POLYDOR: Music from Three-Groschen Opera (Klemperer).|
"Here is a real Palestinian composer!" --OSSIP GABRILOWITSCH
JACOB WEINBERG, an important voice in modern Hebrew music, was born in Odessa, Russia, on July 1, 1879. "I have lived three lives," he informs us, "under three different cultures: Europe ( Moscow), Asia ( Jerusalem), and America ( New York). Needless to say I have been vitally influenced by each one of them."
His family was intimately connected with the leading literary and musical circles of Moscow. One of his uncles, a poet and professor of history, was a famous translator of Shakespeare and Heine into Russian; another uncle was married to the sister of Anton Rubinstein, the well-known composer. Jacob, therefore, moved during his childhood in an intellectual environment. After graduating from high school he began music study seriously at the Moscow Conservatory, studying the piano under Igumnov, and counterpoint with Taneiev. Simultaneously with his music instruction he followed the study of law at the University of Moscow. However, music soon acquired sufficient importance in his life for him to give up all legal study and to devote all of his efforts to his artistic development.
Completing his course of study in piano and composition at the Conservatory, Weinberg left for Vienna to acquire the final polish in his piano-playing under Leschetizky. He returned to Moscow two years later as a concertpianist, receiving praise for his technical grasp and his musicianly performances. In 1913-1915Weinberg wrote two scientific works, Encyclopedia of Piano Technic and Course in Musicology, an altogether new point of view in the science of musical language. In 1915 he was appointed professor of piano at the Odessa Imperial Conservatory, where he remained for six years. The revolution finally drove him out of his native country and he settled temporarily in Jerusalem. His stay in Jerusalem was of far-reaching importance in his artistic development, for it is at this time that he turned to the composition of Palestinian music in large symphonic mould, in which he has produced his most important works to date. This music includes his poignant Hebrew songs, his music to Richard Beer- Hoffman's Jacob's Dream for orchestra, performed with unique success in Palestine, music to Uriel Acosta performed in Warsaw, and his folk-opera the Pioneers.
The Pioneers--which was awarded the first prize at the International Music Contest of the Sesquicentennial Association in Philadelphia in 1926, and portions of which have been performed by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under Ossip Gabrilowitsch and over the radio by Erno Rapee--is, without doubt, Weinberg's most important achievement to date. Built on melodic material drawn from Palestinian and Arabian sources, it is the first native Palestinian opera to reach publication. Discussing the strength and weakness of this unusual work, a critic writes in the Musical Courier: "The Pioneers impresses deeply. Built about a drama, naive and ingenuous, which was written by the composer himself . . . the music rises far above