Ernest Bloch

Swiss born Jewish American composer

Swiss born American Composer Ernest Bloch was born on July 24, 1880 in Geneva, Switzerland. He studied at the Conservatory in Brussels under noted teachers Eugene Ysaye and Francois Rasse, later moving on to the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt where he was a pupil of composer Iwan Knorr. Bloch immigrated to the United States in 1916, and in 1920 was appointed the first Musical Director of the fledgling Cleveland Institute of Music, a position he held until 1925. Bloch’s early works, such as Macbeth (1910) and Symphony in C Sharp Minor (1902), were heavily influenced by the German school, specifically composer Richard Strauss. The year 1916 also marked a distinct change in Bloch’s compositional style as he turned to Jewish material for inspiration. During this period he produced his most well known body of work, including pieces such as Schelomo (1916), a rhapsody for cello and orchestra based on the figure of Solomon and the book of Ecclesiastes, the suite Baal Shem (1923) for violin and piano, the Israel Symphony (1916) and Avodath Hakodesh (1933) for baritone, choir and orchestra. Bloch’s post WWII compositions were more varied in style; he focused on writing for the chamber ensemble and began experimenting with neo-classical forms, atonality and serialism. He died in Portland, Oregon, of cancer at the age 78.

Ernest Bloch, "Israel Symphony" (1916)

Ernest Bloch's "Israel Symphony" (1916) Performed by The Russian State Symphony Orchestra.