Sunday, November 29, 2015

Weinberg’s Yemenite Rhapsody: Heḥalutz

Symphonic Entracte perform Jacob Weinberg’s “Yemenite Rhapsody,” which is from the opera, Hehalutz (“The Pioneers”) at the Khan Theater in Jerusalem, Israel, on February 7, 2013. This is an arrangement for a string quartet, clarinet and piano by J.Weinberg with Ilya Swartz (clarinet), Marina Swartz (violin), Dina Pinson (violin), Amos Boason (viola), Yana Donichev (cello), and Uri Brener (piano). Shirelle Dashevsky is the artistic director and David Ben-Gershon the producer.

Jacob Weinberg [1879-1956] was a Russian-Jewish composer who composed one of the earliest operas in Hebrew; Wikipedia writes:
With the advent of the Bolshevik Revolution, Weinberg spent two months in prison and then fled with his wife Theresa (née Bernstein) and his only child, a son, Walter, in 1922 to Palestine (now Israel). There he composed the first Hebrew opera, The Pioneers (Hechalutz). It won First Prize in an international composition contest, sponsored by the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial. There was a performance in Jerusalem in April, 1925. With the prize money of $1500, he took his family to New York.[4]
Weinberg produced concert versions of his opera The Pioneers at Carnegie Hall in 1941 and 1947, and at the Mecca Temple (now New York City Center) in the 1930s. In addition, there was a performance in Berlin, Germany in the 1930s, by the Kulturbund, the soprano Mascha Benya in one of the leading roles. It was performed in a synagogue since the Nazis, coming to power, banned Jewish works, even masterpieces, from being performed in a proper concert hall.[2]
Such a little gem I discovered and now I can share it with you.

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