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Tansman, Alexander


TANSMAN, ALEXANDER (Alexandre ; 1897–1986), composer, pianist, and conductor. Born in Lodz, Poland, Tansman studied at the conservatories of Lodz and Warsaw. In 1919 he submitted two works in competition for the Polish National Prize and won the first and second prizes. He settled in Paris in 1921 and appeared as pianist and conductor. His works of the 1920s retained Polish features such as Mazurka rhythms and Polish folk melodies. In the same years he was strongly influenced by the neo-classicism of Igor Stravinsky. From 1941 to 1946 Tansman lived in the U.S., where he wrote music for films, until he returned to France in 1946. His music evinces a strong lyrical feeling and is moderately modern in style. Many of his works were inspired by his Jewish origin, among them Isaïe le prophète (1950), an oratorio; Sabbataï Zévi, le faux messie (1958), an opera; and many others. He also wrote Igor Stravinsky, ouvrage… (1948, Igor Stravinsky, the Man and His Music, 1949). His honors included the Coolidge Medal (1941), election to the Académie Royale of Belgium (1977), and the Polish Medal of Cultural Merit (1983).

add. bibliography:

ng2; mgg, s.v.; J. Segiella, Child of Fortune: Alexander Tansman and His Life and Times, 1–2 (Pol., 1996).

[Claude Abravanel /

Yulia Kreinin (2nd ed.)]

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