Wednesday 22 October 2014



She was a Soviet Yiddish composer and children’s poet, born in Rzhyshchiv, Ukraine, into a home where Jewish music and song were appreciated.  At age ten, she entered school in Kiev for general education and simultaneously a music school. She graduated from both in 1914, entered a pedagogical institute, and from 1918 began her educational activities. She helped organize kindergartens for homeless Jewish children and personally administered children’s institutions. In Kiev, Kharkov, and Kremenchuk, she worked as a teacher of rhythm, music, and children’s games, and she gave lectures on children’s literature to upper-level pedagogical courses. In so doing, she also made use of her own poetry and compositions. In 1922 she settled in Moscow, where she continued her educational and creative work in the realm of music and children’s poetry. She wrote music to the texts of creations for children and became well known in Moscow music circles. The composer Mikhail Gnessin arranged two of her poems to music: “Mashinen-gezang” (Sone of the machines) and “Ot iz shoyn gekumen friling” (Spring has already arrived). In 1925 she published her first collection for preschool children: Klingen hemerlekh, lider-zamlbukh (Ringing gavels, collection of poems), ed. Y. Lubomirski (Moscow, 1925), 47 pp., containing forty poems to be sung. She later brought out collections of her poetry with text and music, and these were used in the wider network of Jewish preschool institutions. During WWII she continued writing music, and she especially excelled in the music she composed to Shike Driz’s Babi Yar. She also wrote music to the text of such Soviet Yiddish poets as: Dovid Hofshteyn, Perets Markish, Itsik Fefer, Shmuel Halkin, Ezra Fininberg, Arn Vergelis, Arn Kushnirov, and others. Her compositions include in their repertoire the finest singers and actors: Klare Yung, Nekhame Lifshits, Sore Fibikh, Shoyl Lyubimov, and Zinovi Shulman. They were also recorded on records.

Other works by her include: Arbet, shpil, gezang: kinder lider (Work, play, song: children’s songs) (Moscow, 1932), 39 pp.; Kleyne boyer, kinder-lider (Little drill, children’s poems) (Moscow, 1938), 46 pp.; Lomir zingen lider (Let’s sing songs) (Moscow, 1940), 51 pp.; Yidishe lider (Yiddish songs), for solo and choir with piano accompaniment (Moscow, 1966).

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 50; and Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), pp. 34-35.]

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