Joseph Achron Society
I founded the Joseph Achron Society in 2010 to promote the legacy of a brilliant Russian-Jewish violinist and composer, by publishing his works, recording his music, and promoting new scholarship and performances.
Joseph Achron (1886-1943) is one of the most written-about figures in Jewish Music Studies. A revolutionary composer of Jewish classical music, he co-directed the legendary St. Petersburg Society for Jewish Folk Music (1911-1922), launching a world-wide movement that continues to this day. He founded and directed the Jibneh Publishing House for Jewish Music in Berlin (1922-1924), which published hundreds of Jewish classical compositions – now a tremendous archival resource for scholars and performers. His Hebrew Melody, Op. 33 for Violin and Piano (1911), the subject of numerous recent case studies, has been recorded over 100 times in dozens of arrangements. Jascha Heifetz and Arnold Schoenberg, two of his closest friends, praised him as one of the greatest composers of his generation.
Yet, the majority of his works are now unavailable in either print or recorded form. Achron's earliest compositions were published by Russian printers, who went out of business in the wake of the 1917 Revolution. His works published in Germany were forced out of print by the Nazis. Most of his American works were never published at all. Furthermore, because Achron was so involved with Jewish musical nationalism, his posthumous reception has focused almost exclusively on his "Jewish" works; his many "non-Jewish" works are unknown even to Jewish Music Scholars.
Under my leadership, the Joseph Achron Society has focused primarily on the following activities:
- Publishing first edition scores. We published first edition scores of Achron's Hebrew Melody for Violin (or Theremin) and Orchestra, his Third Violin Concerto, his complete string quartets, and his transcriptions of 11 Paganini Caprices for violin and piano. Our work has been funded by grants from Pro Musica Hebraica and individual donations, and have been used for performances in Germany, Lithuania, Israel, and the United States.
- Commissioning new scholarship. Most of our score editions feature newly-commissioned scholarship on historical, compositional, and performance aspects of the music. Authors include Dr. Mai Kawabata (Achron-Paganini Caprices), Dr. Nathan Platte (Complete String Quartets), Dr. Joshua Walden (Third Violin Concerto), the thereminist Thorwald Jørgensen (Hebrew Melody), and the violinist Yuval Waldman (Achron-Paganini Caprices).
- Facilitating access. I have personally corresponded with over 100 performers, scholars, librarians, and listeners around the world who contacted the Joseph Achron Society looking for scores, recordings, photographs, scholarship, and programming advice. Our website provides free access to public domain scores, links to YouTube videos, and biographical information about Achron.
- Assisting with recording projects. We are currently discussing recording projects with several ensembles and look forward to pursuing more work in this direction.