Avshalomov, Jacob (David)

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Avshalomov, Jacob (David)

Avshalomov, Jacob (David), Russian-American conductor, teacher, and composer, son of Aaron Avshalomov; b. Tsingtao, China, March 28, 1919. His father was Russian and his mother American. He studied with his father before emigrating to the U.S. with his mother in 1937. After studies with Toch in Los Angeles, he went to Portland, Oreg., in 1938 and pursued his training with Lucia and Jacques Gershkovitch. He also played percussion and cello under the latter’s direction in the Portland Junior Sym. After attending Reed Coll. (1939–41), he completed his studies with Rogers at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. (1941-43; B.M., M.A.). During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army and in 1944 became a naturalized American citizen. From 1946 to 1954 he taught at Columbia Univ. In 1952 he held a Guggenheim fellowship. In 1953 he was awarded the N.Y. Music Critics Circle Award for his choral work Tom o’ Bedlam. In 1954 he became conductor of the Portland (Oreg.) Junior Sym., which was renamed the Portland Youth Phil, in 1978. Avshalomov conducted it for 40 years, retiring in 1994. During his tenure, he trained numerous students in the rigors of orchestral playing and led them on 6 international tours. On March 28, 1999, his 80th birthday was celebrated in Portland with a special concert with an orch. of his alumni from the Portland Junior Sym. and Youth Phil. His music reflects the many cultures to which he was exposed; while his forms are cohesive, his materials are multifarious, with tense chromatic harmonies and quasi-oriental inflections.


ORCH.: The Taking of Tung Kuan (1943; rev. ver., Detroit, Nov. 20, 1953); Slow Dance (1945); Sinfonietta (1946; N.Y., Nov. 29, 1949); Evocations for Clarinet and Chamber Orch. (1947; Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Aug. 17, 1950); The Plywood Age (Portland, Oreg., June 20, 1955); Phases of the Great Land (1959); 3 syms.: No. 1, The Oregon (1959–61), No. 2, Glorious the Assembled Fires, for Chorus and Orch. (1985), and No. 3, Symphony of Songs, for the 70th anniversary of the Portland Youth Phil. (1993; Portland, Oreg., Feb. 26, 1994); Raptures (1975); Open Sesame! (1985); Up at Timberline for Winds and Brasses (1986). CHAMBER: Viola Sonatina (1947); Quodlibet Montagna for Brass Sextet (1975). VOCAL: Prophecy for Cantor, Chorus, and Organ (1948); How Long, O Lord, cantata (1948–49); Tom o’ Bedlam for Chorus (N.Y., Dec. 15, 1953); Proverbs of Hell for Men’s Chorus (1954; also for Chorus and Light Percussion, 1988); Psalm 100 for Chorus and Winds (1956); Inscriptions for the City of Brass for Narrator, Chorus, and Orch., to a text from the Arabian Nights (1956); Now Welcom Somer for Chorus and Flute (1957); City Upon the Hill for Narrator, Chorus, Orch., and “liberty bell” (1965); I Saw a Stranger Yestere’en for Chorus and Violin (1968); The 13 Clocks for 2 Storytellers and Orch. (1973); Praises from the Corners of the Earth for Chorus and Orch. (1976); The Most Triumphant Bird for Chorus, Piano, and Viola Concertante (1985); Songs from the Goliards for Chorus and Cello Concertante (1992); Songs in Season for Chorus, Piano, and Contrabass Concertante (1993).


Music Is Where You Make It (2 vols., 1959, 1979); The Concerts Reviewed: 65 Years of the Portland Youth Philharmonic (1991).


E. Encell, J. A.’s Works for Chorus and Orchestra: Aspects of Style (diss., Univ. of Wash., 1983).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire