Wednesday 28 August 2019


YANKEV SHEYFER (JACOB SCHAEFER) (October 13, 1888-December 1, 1936)
            He was a composer, born (original family name: Soyfer) in Kremenits, Volhynia.  He sang with various cantors.  In 1910 he arrived in the United States and studied at the Chicago Musical College.  He lived in Chicago for several years and longer still in New York.  He worked as a singing teacher in Jewish schools and directed choruses primarily for leftist Jewish circles.  He composed music to the poetry of a series of Yiddish poets: Dovid Edelshtat, Avrom Reyzen, Sh. An-ski, Morris Rozenfeld, Arn Liessin, Perets Hirshbeyn, Yoyel Slonim, Moyshe-Leyb Halpern, Yehoash, Y. L. Perets (“Tsvey brider” [Two brothers]), and Beynush Shteyman, among others.  He also wrote about music in: Frayhayt (Freedom), Hamer (Hammer), and the anthology Gezang un kamf (Song and struggle) (New York, 1926-1928).  In book form: Mit gezang tsum kamf, lider far gezang un pyane (With song to the struggle, songs for singing and piano) (New York: International Labor Order, 1932), 16 pp. and 74 pp.; Ikh her a kol, 22 geklibene lider fun yankev shefer (I hear a voice, twenty-two selected songs by Yankev Sheyfer) (New York: Jewish Music Alliance, 1952), 163 pp.  In 1962 there was published a remembrance volume: Jacob Schaefer, a Tribute to His Memory (New York: Jewish Music Alliance), 190 pp.  He died in New York.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 6 (Mexico City, 1969); Yisroel-Ber Beylin, Yankev shefer, zayn leybn un shafn (Jacob Schaefer, his life and work) (New York: Jewish Musical Labor Alliance, 1937).
Berl Cohen

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