Achron, Joseph


Joseph Achron, born May 13, 1886, Lodzdzieje, Poland (now Lasdjaj, Lithuania). Died, April 29, 1943, Los Angeles. Violinist, teacher and composer. His brother Isador was a pianist. A child prodigy and a concert soloist. He studied composition in Russia under Anatoly Ljadov. Toured widely, giving more than 1000 concerts between 1919-1922. Served as Head, and gave Violin Master classes in Leningrad’s Artist Union. He joined the Society for Jewish Folk Music in 1911. In 1922 established a publishing company called “Jibneh” in Berlin. Traveled to Palestine in 1924, staying only a few months. In 1925, Achron emigrated to the U.S. and settled in New York. Worked for a short time rearranging Yiddish theater music for Maurice Schwartz. Taught violin at the Westchester Conservatory. In 1934, he moved to Hollywood, composing film music. As Albert Weisser points out in his landmark work The Modern Renaissance of Jewish Music, Joseph Achron in the United States was between two worlds: his Jewish compositions were generally too sophisticated for Jewish audiences of the day, and his Jewish ethnic music not of interest for general classical audiences that understood modern music. Weisser states: “Since his death his reputation has fallen into somwhat of an eclipse; however it is just about due for a revival.” Some 50 years after Weisser wrote those words, Achron’s revivial seems to be finally happening. The pianist Jascha Nemtsov has taken up the charge and produced some brilliant recordings of his works. As example: Ingolf Turban (violin) and Jascha Nemtsov (piano) play Hebrew Melodies which contains Achron’s Hebrew Melody, Dance Improvisation, Hebrew Cradle Song, Fairy Tale(Agada), Scher, Canzonetta, Suite “Stempenyu“. (Hänssler CLASSIC / SWR 2001). See also Nemtsov’s CD’s Edition Abseits / MDR 1999 and Edition Abseits / MDR 2000. Concerts in New York, Boston, London and Israel, to name a few, have also focused on the St. Petersburg composers, including Achron. Beth Hatefutsoth (Diaspora Museum) released a recording in 1998, (BTR 9801).