Sternberg, Erich-walter

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STERNBERG, ERICH-WALTER (1898–1974), composer. Sternberg was born in Berlin, where he studied law and also music (with Hugo Leichtentritt and Adolf Aber). His first compositions already incorporated material from East European Jewish folklore (the finale of the First String Quartet was based on Eliakum *Zunser'sDer Parom, "The Ferry"). After a visit to Ereẓ Israel in 1924, he settled there permanently in 1932 with the first wave of composers trained in Western Europe.

Many of his works had biblical themes: Joseph and his Brethren, a suite for string orchestra (1938); The Twelve Tribes of Israel, variations for orchestra (1942); David and Goliath, a cantata for bass-baritone and chamber orchestra (text by Mathias Claudius, transl. by J. Aḥai); and Noah's Ark, a symphony. Others are connected by their themes or texts with liturgical traditions: Yishtabbaḥ, for choir, baritone solo, and speaker, to words by Judah Halevi (1945), and Shema Yisrael, a symphonic poem. Settings of texts from European literature are more frequent in Sternberg's work than in that of other Jewish composers: a major work is The Raven (based on Edgar Allan Poe's poem in the translation by Vladimir Jabotinsky), for baritone and orchestra. Other works of note are a children's opera Dr. Dolittle (1932); a suite for his stage music to the Habimah production of Shalom Aleichem's Amkha (1935); The Resurrection of Israel, for baritone and orchestra; and various vocal, choral, chamber, and orchestral works.


Who Is Who in acum (1965); P.E. Gradenwitz, Music and Musicians in Israel (1959), 36–39, 159–60; I. Shalita, Enẓiklopedyah le-Musikah. Ishei ha-Musikah ha-Yisra'elit ve-ha-Kelalit (1959), 770–3.

[Bathja Bayer]