Milner, Moses Michael

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MILNER, MOSES MICHAEL

MILNER, MOSES MICHAEL (Mikhail Arnoldovich ; 1886–1953), composer, born in Rokitno, Ukraine. As a child he sang in the choirs of several famous ḥazzanim, including J.S. *Morogovski (Zeidel Rovner), and then studied at the Kiev and St. Petersburg conservatories. From 1912 to 1919 he was conductor of the choir of the Great Synagogue in St. Petersburg, and then worked as singing teacher and choral conductor in various posts. From 1924 to 1931 he was musical director and conductor of the Yiddish Theater in Moscow and Kharkov, musical director of the Jewish Voice Ensemble in Leningrad (1931–41), and coach of the choir of the Leningrad Bolshoi Theater from 1941 until his death.

Milner's renown began with the publication of his songs in 1914 by the *Society for Jewish Folk Music which he had helped to found. His works indicated new possibilities for the harmonization of traditional melodic material in the dramatic style of Moussorgsky. Until the mid-1930s he wrote many works on Jewish themes, mainly for the stage. The opera, Die Himlen Brenen, based on S. *An-Ski's Dibbuk and adapted by M. Rivesman, performed in 1923, was later denounced as reactionary and its performance was forbidden. Among his other works are Der Najer Veg (1933); Josephus Flavius (1935), based on L. *Feuchtwanger's novel; stage music for the Habimah performances of H. Leivik's Golem and R. *Beer-Hoffmann's Jaakobs Traum; and a ballet, Ashmedai. In addition, he also wrote settings of Jewish folk songs and liturgical texts. After the repression of Jewish art, Milner turned to more general subjects and wrote a symphony (1937); a symphonic poem, The Partisans (1944); and a piano concerto.

bibliography:

I. Heskes and A. Wolfson (eds.), Historic Contribution of Russian Jewry to Jewish Music (1967), 74–79 (= Jewish Music Festival, 23rd, New York, 1966); Sendrey, Music, index; L. Saminsky, Music of the Ghetto and the Bible (1934), index; I. Rabinovitch, Of Jewish Music (1952), index; B.C. Steinpress (ed.), Entsiklopedicheskiy muzykalny slovar (1959); G. Bernandt, Slovar Oper (1962).

[Haim Bar-Dayan]

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