He is one of our foremost modern composers and
I cannot say enough on his behalf both as a musician and as a man.”
— Jascha Heifetz (1935)
Violin virtuoso, Jewish folklorist, Yiddish Theatre impresario, music publisher, and, briefly, an Israeli pioneer….. The little-known 20th-century composer Joseph Achron seems due for a comeback.
Achron was also best friends with Jascha Heifetz, for whom he composed everything from salon pieces to big concertos. Heifetz, in turn, was the first to record what to this day is Achron’s best-known work; the aching Hebrew Melody, the embodiment of the composer’s lifelong quest to incorporate traditional Jewish folkloric elements into Western classical music.
During our December 2019 Heifetz Holiday Tour, the voice of the throaty viola got added to Achron’s ancient melody, originally scored for violin and piano, thanks to our in-house arranger Ana Abrantes. Check out the poignant product, realized on stage by violist Matt Cohen, violinist Angela Chan, and pianist Zhenni Li-Cohen.