As this fall’s concert season kicks off, Manhattanites in search of classical performances with a dollop of Yiddishkeit will have a delightful array of choices, starting with the genial ghost of beloved Austrian Jewish violinist Fritz Kreisler, which presides over the New York Philharmonic’s Opening Gala. On September 27 at Avery Fisher Hall, Itzhak Perlman will play Kreisler’s “Tambourin Chinois,” which some music snobs might see as an unadventurously musty selection for such a high-profile orchestral outing, but Kreisler’s legion of fans will be ever-grateful.
Star violinists are not usually known for modesty, but even in this company, Arthur Hartmann, born in Philadelphia to Hungarian-Jewish immigrants, stands out for braggadocio. Hartmann, who died in 1956, had talent, as we read in “Claude Debussy As I Knew Him and Other Writings of Arthur Hartmann,” a paperback out in September, 2010 from The University of Rochester Press.
World War II delayed the just appreciation of many wonderful Jewish composers, such as Mieczyslaw Weinberg, a Russian composer who died in 1996. Trio Voce, a gifted piano trio, has nimbly recorded Weinberg’s multifaceted Trio, Op. 24 on Con Brio Recordings, bringing out the composer’s attachment to the works of J. S. Bach.
Sometimes we listen to CDs for their artistry, sometimes simply to relish individual voices, and few voices are as heartening and as reaffirming about human values as the rich, exquisitely cultured speaking tones of Albert Einstein, to be heard on a reprint from British Library Publishing. In original recordings from 1930 to 1947, in English mostly but also in German, Einstein addresses audiences for the benefit of Jewish war refugees with moving simplicity and grace. This is a must-hear, unforgettable item.
Although Shabbetai Zevi naturally gets most of the attention, Jewish history has been marked by a series of impostors. On February 16, Bloomsbury USA publishes a collection by the late New Yorker reporter St. Clair McKelway, “Reporting at Wit’s End,” which includes the complete 1968 book “The Big Little Man from Brooklyn” about the Jewish impostor Stanley Jacob Weinberg.