Skip to main content

Nathan, Isaac

NATHAN, ISAAC

NATHAN, ISAAC (1790?–1864), composer, singer, and writer. Nathan was born in Canterbury, England, and his father was probably the local ḥazzan. He studied with Solomon Lyon at Cambridge to enter the rabbinate, but in about 1810 he went to London and began a career as singer, composer, and music teacher. From Domenico Corri he learned the classical tradition of Italian vocal culture, stemming from Corri's master, Porpora; Nathan's Musurgia Vocalis (18362) is one of the few remaining written documentations of this method. In London he became friendly with Lord *Byron, whose Hebrew Melodies were written at Nathan's request and set by him to music. In the first editions of this work (from 1815 onward), which achieved great popularity, the name of John *Braham was featured on the title page as composer, in addition to that of Nathan, but Braham contributed nothing to the work except his prestige. After a financial setback, caused mainly by debts incurred while on a secret mission on behalf of King William iv, Nathan immigrated to Australia in 1841 and settled in Sydney as Australia's first resident professional composer. There he organized musical performances, published a magazine entitled The Southern Euphrosyne, and composed the first opera written and produced in Australia, Don Juan of Austria (1847). Nathan died in Sydney from injuries received while stepping off (or being run over by) a tram. His great-granddaughter Catherine Mackerras wrote his most informed biography, and her son was the conductor Charles Mackerras. His great-nephew was the pianist Harold Samuel.

Nathan's works include various operas and songs. Several traditional Jewish melodies are found in his Musurgia Vocalis. For some of the Hebrew Melodies he also used some traditional tunes, but, except for *Ma'oz Ẓur (set to Byron's "On Jordan's Banks"), they are quite transformed by his superficial compositional initiative. In certain of the songs published in Australia, he reworked aboriginal melodies. His grandson, Harry Alfred Nathan, has been proposed as the composer of the popular Australian song "Waltzing Matilda," but the claim is a matter of dispute.

bibliography:

E. Foreman, The Porpora Tradition (1968); C. Mackerras, Hebrew Melodist: A Life of Isaac Nathan (1963); O.S. Phillips, Isaac Nathan, Friend of Byron (1940); C.H. Bertie, Isaac Nathan, Australia's First Composer (1922); R. Covell, Australia's Music (1967), 13–15, 59, 68–69; E.R. Dibdin, in: Music and Letters, 22 (1941), 85.

[Bathja Bayer]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Nathan, Isaac." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Jan. 2019 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Nathan, Isaac." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. (January 18, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/nathan-isaac

"Nathan, Isaac." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved January 18, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/nathan-isaac

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.