Vinaver, Chemjo

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VINAVER, CHEMJO (1900–1973), conductor and composer. Vinaver was born in Warsaw and raised in the ḥasidic court of his grandfather, R. Isaac of Vorka, where he absorbed the Vorka and other ḥasidic musical traditions. From 1916 to 1920 he studied in Warsaw, and then in Berlin (conducting and composition with Hugo Ruedel and Siegfried Ochs). There he organized the Hanigun choir for the propagation of Jewish music, which toured in Europe and Palestine. From 1926 to 1933 Vinaver was the chief conductor at the temple of the Berlin community, with whose choir he recorded over 20 liturgical works. He also taught music at the teachers' college of the Reichsvertretung der deutschen Juden and published articles on Jewish music in the Jewish press and cantorial periodicals. In 1938 Vinaver emigrated to New York, where he organized the Vinaver Chorus and the Vinaver Symphonic Voices. From 1952 he was music consultant in the cultural department of the Zionist Organization of America. In 1967 he settled in Jerusalem, where he also established a choir.

Among his compositions may be mentioned "The Seventh Day" for cantor and chorus, for the Friday night service (1946), Kol Nidrei, and Omnam Ken. He edited several collections of ḥasidic, Yiddish, and Israeli folk songs, and in 1955 published the Anthology of Jewish Music, which contains traditional synagogal music, ḥasidic niggunim, and religious folk songs (many of them of his own collection), several synagogal compositions, including Vinaver's own, and Psalm 130, "Out of Depths," composed by Arnold *Schoenberg especially for the anthology. Vinaver's wife was the poet Masha Kaleko.


Sendrey, Music, index.

[Haim Bar-Dayan]