Alexander Krein


Born: October 20, 1883; Nizhny Novgorod, Russia   Died: April 21, 1951; Staraya Ruza, Russia  
Absent though they are in all but the more recent editions of Western music dictionaries and encyclopedias, the Krein family of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, was key among a group of artists, writers, and musicians seeking to preserve and, when chance smiled on them, revive Jewish culture during the Soviet regime -- the so-called National Jewish Movement. Of the three Krein family composers, Alexander, his brother Grigori, and Grigori's son Julian, it Read more is Alexander who composed the most music and thus to whom the most attention has been paid.

Alexander Krein was born in Nizhny Novgorod (renamed Gorky after the Revolution of 1917 and then re-renamed Nizhny Novgorod after the fall of Communism during the later twentieth century) on October 20, 1883. In 1896, he entered the Moscow Conservatory as a student of cello, soon branching out, however, to take lessons in composition as well. During the years immediately prior to the Revolution, he was on the faculty of the People's Conservatory in Moscow and then after the formation of the Soviet Union, he held a variety of official and semi-official music administration posts. He died in April 1951 in Staraya Ruza.

Krein's own Jewish heritage was a constant source of material from which to weave music. There are a number of instrumental works whose titles bear quite obvious witness to this, such as the Caprice Hebraique, Op. 24, and the Jewish Sketches for clarinet and string quartet. In 1921, he composed Kaddish for tenor soloist, choir, and orchestra. From the mid-'20s on, he could often be found writing music for plays given by Moscow's Jewish Drama Theater. But Alexander Krein did not limit himself exclusively to the exploration of Hebraic-type music. There is also a large amount of music that is either purely classical in design or Soviet in nature. In the latter category are works like the revolutionary opera Zagmuk (1930), the Threnody in Memory of Lenin (1925), and the somewhat amusingly titled U.S.S.R., Shock Brigade of the World Proletariat (1925). Read less

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