Jack Gottlieb z”l

The American Society for Jewish Music sends out this sad announcement about the passing of Jack Gottlieb.
Dear Members and Friends:
It is with sadness that I share with you the news of Jack Gottlieb’s passing.

A prolific composer, especially of sacred songs and choral music for the synagogue, Jack worked actively on behalf of Jewish music and served as President of the ASJM for a number of years. Also a scholar and noted author, his acclaimed books, Funny, It Doesn’t Sound Jewish: How Yiddish Songs and Synagogue Melodies Influenced Tin Pan Alley, Broadway and Hollywood, and, most recently, his memoire Working with Bernstein, about his years as assistant to Leonard Bernstein, received rave reviews. A biography of Jack Gottlieb’s distinguished career is appended below.

As Jack wished for no public funeral, those in the New York area wishing to mark his passing are invited to attend the services at Congregation Emanu-El on March 11 and 12, 2011, which will be devoted to his music. At the Friday evening service on March 11th the sermon that Jack had been asked to deliver on Jewish music will be read. There are plans for a memorial concert marking his first yarhzeit.

May his memory be a blessing.

Michael Leavitt


Jack Gottlieb, born October 12, 1930, New Rochelle, NY, and lived in New York City. Gottlieb received his BA from Queens College, NY, an MFA from Brandeis University and a DMA from the University of Illinois. Synagogue composer Max Helfman, his first mentor, was the one to inspire him to write sacred music. Dr. Gottlieb also studied with Aaron Copland and Boris Blacher at the Berkshire Music Center. From 1958 to 1966, he was Leonard Bernstein’s assistant at the New York Philharmonic. In 1967 his sacred service, Love Songs for Sabbath, was given at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, MN, probably the first time a full-length synagogue service was ever heard under Catholic auspices (excerpts recorded on Naxos 8.599433 with six other choral works). From 1973-77 he was the first full-time professor of music at the School of Sacred Music, Hebrew Union College. In 1977 he joined the [now called] Leonard Bernstein Office, Inc., as publications director, and currently served as consultant for the Bernstein estate.

He had just been named by the New York Philharmonic as the Leonard Bernstein Scholar-in-Residence for the 2010-2011 season. Among artists who have performed his works are Bernstein, members of the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra; singers Jennie Tourel, Adele Addison, Lee Venora and John Reardon; the Gregg Smith Singers, and many other choral groups; and actresses Tovah Feldshuh and Felicia Montealegre. He is past president of the American Society for Jewish Music and had received numerous awards, most recently from the Zamir Choral Foundation “in recognition of his lifetime contributions to Jewish music.” Among these compositions is his Songs of Godlove, a two-volume set of 51 solos and duets (Transcontinental Music).

Some of his secular works are inspired by iconic movies. Among them are Downtown Blues for Uptown Halls, songs; The Silent Flickers, for 4-hand piano; Rick’s Place, piano trio; Three Frankenstein Portraits for a cappella chorus; and an opera, The Listener’s Guide to Old-Time Movies. His books, both critically acclaimed, are the recent Working with Bernstein, a memoir (Amadeus Press, 2010), and Funny, It Doesn’t Sound Jewish: How Yiddish Songs and Synagogue Melodies Influenced Tin Pan Alley, Broadway and Hollywood (Library of Congress and SUNY Press, 2004) received rave reviews nationwide. For more information, visit www.jackgottlieb.com