Waves Sharon SchoenbergMilhaud

  • Issue: April 1995
  • Designer: N. & M. Eshel
  • Stamp size: 40 x 25.7 mm
  • Plate no.: 248 - 249
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: Offset

Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)

Schoenberg was one of the three great composers of the first half of the Twentieth Century, along with Stravinsky and Bartok. He was born a Jew in Vienna in 1874. In 1898 he converted to Christianity, as did a number of Jewish artists of his generation. But in 1933 he returned to Judaism with a public renunciation of Christianity, at a ceremony in Paris, which caused world wide reverberations. His early works, until the First World War, were strongly influenced by Brahms and Wagner, but already in 1912 he had composed Pierrot Lunaire (Moonstruck Pierrot) with its revolutionary use of the human voice (Sprechgesang - speaking voice). During the time he lived in Vienna and later in Berlin, he was a much sought-after teacher, though he himself was primarily self-taught. Schoenberg and his famous students Alban Berg and Anton Webern, were called "The Second Viennese School". Schoenberg is regarded as the father of Serialism in which, instead of using regular tonal scales, he used the twelve tones organized in series. His Serialism was in practice dodecaphonic. However, Schoenberg never became a slave to any system and in his letters he frequently propounds the principle of free creativity and non-enslavement to any specific doctrine.

In 1925 Schoenberg was appointed Head of the Composition Department of the Prussian Academy of Arts in Berlin, but in 1933, with the Nazi rise to power, he was fired from his job and emigrated to the U.S. Whilst living in Paris he returned demonstratively to Judaism in a ceremony which took place in the Rue Copernique Synagogue in Paris, with Marc Chagall as one of the witnesses to the event. He spent the rest of his life in California and in this period he also wrote his most markedly Jewish works: "Kol Nidrei", "A survivor from Warsaw", "Modern Psalms", "Jacobs Ladder", "Moses and Aaron". While living in America, he taught at UCLA. Schoenberg died in Los Angeles in 1951. In that year he had been invited by the director of the Tel Aviv Academy of Music, the composer Qedoen Partos, to head the academy, but he no longer had the strength. His letter in reply to the invitation is a classic document - a text which should be studied in every school of music. Among other things he wrote: "For several decades it has my most fervent desire to see the establishment of an independent and autonomous State of Israel. And more than that: to be a citizen of Israel and make my home there".

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Darius Milhaud (1892-1974)

Darius Milhaud was born in Aix-en-Provence in Southern France, to an old established family, with roots going back to Roman times. He defines himself at the beginning of his autobiography, "My Happy Life", as: "...a Frenchman from Provence of the Jewish Faith", and indeed these three different roots were to escort him throughout his life. At seventeen he began his studies at the National Conservatory in Paris, and from then on he divided his time between this city and the city of his birth, though during the Second World War, he lived in the USA.

From 1917 to 1919 Milhaud served as the Cultural Attache in the French Embassy in Brazil. At this time the ambassador was Paul Claudel, the famous French author and poet. These years left a very deep impression on Milhaud, both on account of the influence of Brazilian music made on him and because of the ties he established with Paul Claudel, with whom he was to continue to collaborate for many years. In 1919 he returned to Paris where he became one of "The Six", a group of young composers representing the generation following Debussy and Ravel, which included Arthur Honegger and Francis Poulenc.

Milhaud was a very prolific composer, blessed with an unusual facility to write, composing altogether almost 450 works. He wrote in every contemporary musical vein but he particularly loved the theatre and wrote a great deal of music for musicals, operas, dramatic works and ballets. Later on in life, he suffered partial paralysis and was obliged to work from a wheelchair, but this did not keep him from his multifarious activities as a composer, conductor, and teacher, Milhaud came from a strong French and European culture, but a number of his works have markedly Jewish characteristics, among them are the operas "David" and "Esther of Carpentras" (both the librettos were written by his friend, the Jewish-French author, Armand Lonell), "Sacred Services" for Cantor, Choir and Orchestra, "Prayers of the Jews of the Duchy of Venaissin" (in Southern France), three "Poems For Rosh Hashana", five "Jewish Folk Songs", "Seven Branches of the Candelabra" (for piano), "The Queen of Sheba", "Jewish Poems", "Jacob's Dreams", "Psalms", "Cantata for a Wedding", "Cain and Abel", "Royal Crown", "The Wonders of the Faith", "I Give Thanks to Jerusalem", "Cantata for a Bar-Mitzvah", the "Genesis" suite and others. In 1955 Milhaud visited Jerusalem and conducted the premier performance of the opera "David" which was commissioned especially to celebrate Jerusalem as the capital of David's kingdom.

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Jewish musicians (II)