Waves Sharon BlochBernstein

  • Issue: February 1995
  • Designer: N. & M. Eshel
  • Stamp size: 40 x 25.7 mm
  • Plate no.: 246 - 247
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: Offset

Ernest Bloch and Leonard Bernstein were both born in Western countries, to parents who had emigrated from Eastern Europe, which at the time constituted the major Jewish population centre in the world. They were both renowned musicians who bore their Jewish identity with pride and gave it expression in their works. They left a deep impression, which lives on after them, both on Jewish culture and on the contemporary world of music.

Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)

Ernest Bloch, was born in Geneva. His father was a clock-maker and merchant. Bloch studied composition and violin, first in his hometown and later in Belgium, Germany and France. He first wrote works with no particular Jewish connection. Later, in 1913, he began writing works on Jewish themes and by 1916, had written the orchestral works "Trois Poemes Juifs" (Three Jewish Poems), the "Israel Symphony", and "Schelomo" (Solomon) - a rhapsody for cello and orchestra. In 1916 he immigrated to the USA where he directed music conservatories in Cleveland and San Francisco. In the 1920's he composed his famous work "Baal Shem" for violin and piano (and later for orchestra), and in the 1930's his major creation "Avodat Hakodesh" (Sacred Service) for cantor, choir and orchestra. On his works with Jewish themes he said, "I am Jewish and strive to write Jewish music... this does not mean that I have to use Jewish folk-tunes... but I have an authentic Jewish feeling inside of me. This feeling is, of course, buried at the root of all my serious music, and serves as a faithful expression both of the Jewish people as a whole, and of the individual Jew

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Leonard Bernstein (1919-1990)

Leonard Bernstein is certainly the most diverse musician of the twentieth century. His extraordinary talent brought excellence to every field he was involved in - as a composer, conductor, pianist, writer and teacher of music. He was born in Lawrence, near Boston, and received his education at Harvard University and at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. He studied conducting under Serge Koussevitzky and Fritz Reiner. In 1943 his chance came when he substituted for Bruno Walter, conducting the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and overnight made his name and became a sought-after conductor. In 1947 he visited Eretz Israel for the first time, and conducted the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom he maintained strong ties until the end of his life, and with whom he made numerous recordings, including most of his orchestral works. His most famous work "West Side Story", brings the American musical to its supreme form.

Many of his works are on Jewish themes, such as his Symphony No. 1 - "Jeremiah", his Symphony No. 3 -"Kaddish", Chichester Psalms - verses from the Book of Psalms sung in Hebrew, "Dibbuk" - music for dance, "Halil" (Flute) - in memory of an Israeli flautist who fell in the Yom Kippur War, and "Jubilee Games" - written for the 50th anniversary of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

Portraits of the musicians are shown on the right-hand side of the stamps. On the left are pictures of biblical characters taken from etchings by the well-known artist, Dore. The music seen above these pictures is part of the composition named after the character: "Jeremiah", on the Bernstein stamp and "Schelomo" on the Bloch stamp.

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Jewish musicians (I)