Binder, Abraham Wolf

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BINDER, ABRAHAM WOLF (1895–1966), U.S. composer. Born in New York, son and grandson of cantors, Binder became a choir director at the age of 14. In 1916 he formed the Hadassah Choral Union, and in 1917 he organized a music department, the first of its kind, at the 92nd Street ymha in New York. In 1921 he became instructor in Jewish music at the Jewish Institute of Religion, and in 1922 music director at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue. Here he was able to reintroduce the traditional chanting of the Bible, while keeping to the spirit of the Reform movement. In his revision of the Union Hymnal (1932) he also encouraged contributions by contemporary American Jewish composers. When the Jewish Institute of Religion was combined with the Hebrew Union College in New York, Binder was appointed professor of Jewish liturgical music there and helped to found its School of Sacred Music (1948). A prolific composer, he wrote synagogal services and songs, Hebrew and Yiddish songs, nine cantatas and oratorios (including Amos on Times Square and The Legend of the Ari), and piano, violin, chamber, and orchestral music. His music library and manuscripts were bequeathed to kibbutz Ein ha-Shofet.


I. Heskes, A.W. Binder, his Life and Work (1965); Sendrey, Music, indexes; L. Appleton (ed.), The Music of A.W. Binder; a bibliography (mimeographed, 1964).

[Bathja Bayer]