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Joseph Achron

Autograph by Achron
Autograph by Achron


Joseph Achron (1886-1943) received violin lessons from his father when he was five years old. His father was an amateur violinist and recited prayers at the synagogue. When Achron was seven years old he began the career of a child prodigy with his first public appearance in Warsaw, followed by concerts in all parts of Russia. In 1899 he joined the class of the legendary violin teacher Leopold Auer at the Conservatory in Petersburg where he also studied composition under Anatoly Ljadov.

He joined the Society for Jewish Folk Music in 1911 and from then on occupied himself in theory and practice with the Jewish music tradition. His first "Jewish" work "Hebrew Melody" became famous straightaway through the interpretation by Jascha Heifetz.

In 1922 Achron went to Berlin, where he, together with Michail Gnesin, ran the Jewish music publishing company "Jibneh". In 1924 Achron spent some months in Palestine before he emigrated to America.

Even though he achieved great success with his first violin concert (which he performed as soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Serge Koussewitzky) and the suite "Golem" for chamber orchestra (first performance at the 2. Festival of the International Society for New Music in Venice), he was unable to establish himself as a composer in the USA. Arnold Schönberg, a friend of Achron, described him in his obituary as "one of the most underrated modern composers".


© 24.12.2008 by Jascha Nemtsov. e-mail: feedback@musica-judaica.com