The Library
 

Music Archives

Printable version (opens in a separate window)

THE HEINRICH SCHALIT COLLECTION

AT THE LIBRARY OF THE JEWISH THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
arranged and described by ELIOTT KAHN, D.M.A.,
February 2000

Table of Contents

COLLECTION DESCRIPTION
BIOGRAPHICAL STATEMENT
PROVENANCE
SERIES LIST (Search JTS Library catalog for bibliographic records: http://catalog.jtsa.edu
SERIES DESCRIPTION
BOX LIST


See Caption Below

Enlarge Image

Photo. Heinrich Schalit (left) and Herbert Fromm.
(Fromm wrote, "Historic picture: Two Jewish composers who get along."), Denver, Colorado, August 1952. (Box 2, folder 6)

COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

The Heinrich Schalit Collection at The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America is made up largely of the published musical works and unpublished music manuscripts, 1905-1976, of the German-American composer Heinrich Schalit (1886-1976).In addition, there are letters from prominent musicians, rabbis, cantors and other important figures who were actively involved in Jewish religious and cultural life in Germany between the wars, 1918-1939, as well as in the United States during and after World War II, 1940-1976. There are Schalit's personal documents, 1906-1976; newspaper clippings of music reviews from Germany, 1908-1936; concert programs and synagogue bulletins from America, 1940-1994; and two photographs, 1933 and 1952. Finally, there are books and music collected by Schalit, 1912-1974; a few sound recordings of his music, 1951-ca. 1976; and a microfilm of all of his compositions, prepared after his death in 1976.

Note: All the musical scores, recordings, published books and microfilm may be accessed through the JTS Library Catalog (Search under "Schalit, Heinrich" or title)


top of page


See Caption Below

Enlarge Image

Letter. From Gesellschaft Musikfreunde in Wien, awarding Heinrich Schalit the 1906 State Prize for Composition Students. (Box 2, folder 5)

BIOGRAPHICAL STATEMENT

Heinrich Schalit was born in Vienna on January 2, 1886 and died in Evergreen, Colorado on February 3, 1976. During his long life, Schalit had the misfortune of experiencing two world wars as well as being born a European Jew in a time of great political upheaval. These circumstances profoundly altered the course of his life and his style of musical expression.

Schalit's vision was seriously impaired by childhood illness and injury. He attended Vienna's Jewish Institute for the Blind, taking music lessons from blind organist Josef Labor (1843-1924) and singing in the Institute's synagogue choir, which was directed by Vienna's chief cantor Josef Singer (1841-1911). Displaying prodigious talent, Schalit enrolled at Vienna's Konservatorium für Musik und darstellende Kunst, where he studied piano with Polish pianist Theodor Leschetizky (1830-1915) and musical composition with Robert Fuchs (1847-1927) — teacher of Gustav Mahler and Jan Sibelius. Schalit graduated from the Konservatorium in 1906 with a "superior" rating ("vorzuglich") and at the end of the year won the prestigious Austrian State Prize for Composition Students with his Klavierquartett in E moll (Piano Quartet in E Minor).

Schalit relocated to Munich in 1907, embarking upon a successful career composing post-Romantic Lieder and chamber music. His Jugendland (Land of Youth) solo piano pieces were performed throughout Europe by pianist Ossip Gabrilowitsch (1878-1936). Both this work and his Sechs Frühlingslieder (Six Songs of Spring) were published by Tischer & Jagenberg at Cologne. His 6 Liebeslieder (Six Songs of Love) was published in Vienna in 1921 by Universal Edition.

The carnage and privations of the first world war affected Schalit as they did countless other young people. The continuance of German anti-Semitism — in the form of a 1916 army census seeking to verify Jewish service at the fronts — might also have deeply disturbed him. Whatever the reasons, in 1916 he made a conscious decision to begin writing music of "Jewish content and character." This would align him with a small but vibrant Jewish cultural movement associated with the burgeoning, early twentieth-century Zionist political movement. Except for the 6 Liebeslieder he wrote for his young bride in 1920, Schalit would scarcely deviate from this aesthetic decision for the duration of his life.

Heinrich Schalit married Hilda Schork (1899-1981) in 1921. A non-Jewish native of Mannheim, she converted to Judaism in 1924. During the 1920s Schalit composed, performed and published several important pieces of German-Jewish art music. His Seelenlieder (Songs of the Soul) for voice with piano was published in Vienna by Universal Edition in 1921. His 1928 hymn In Ewigkeit (In Eternity) for chorus, organ, harp, and violins was performed and well reviewed in Munich, Frankfurt, Augsburg, Dresden and Berlin. The texts of both works use German translations of Hebrew poetry by medieval Spanish poet Judah ha-Levi (12th cent.). Schalit's early Jewish works profoundly influenced two younger Jewish musicians who studied at the State Academy for Music in Munich: Israeli composer Paul Ben-Haim (née Frankenburger, 1897-1984) and Herbert Fromm (1905-1995), who became one of the most important creators of American synagogue music in the twentieth century.

In September 1927 Heinrich Schalit assumed the post of organist and music director at Munich's Hauptsynagoge (Great Synagogue). He remained there until 1933, when he and his family left Munich to avoid Nazi persecution. At the Hauptsynagoge, Schalit worked under Cantor Emanuel Kirschner (1857-1938) and also began composing religious music. In 1932, at the request of Alexander Weinbaum (1875-1943?), then organist and music director at Berlin's Lützowstrasse Synagoge, Schalit composed his Eine Freitagabend-Liturgie. This synagogue work utilized contemporary modal techniques as well as traditional melodies discovered by Jewish musicologist A.Z. Idelsohn (1882-1938). At its world premiere on September 16, 1932, the work was highly praised by German musicologists Alfred Einstein, Hugo Leichtentritt and Curt Sachs.

After obtaining a position as music director at Rome's Great Synagogue, Heinrich, Hilda Schalit, and their three sons, Joseph, Michael and Theodor, emigrated to Italy in December 1933. With the Rome-Berlin Axis of October 1938, the Schalit family was forced to move again — this time to London. Here they were granted temporary residence through Schalit's brother Leon, the German translator and biographer of English author John Galsworthy. From March 1939 the Schalit family spent a fitful year and a half in London awaiting their American visas. This was the final stage of a ten-year battle to provide Heinrich Schalit with a U.S. visa as well as full-time employment. This battle had been waged — and won — by Philip S. Bernstein (1901-1985), rabbi at Temple B'rith Kodesh in Rochester, New York.

The Schalit family arrived in Rochester in late August 1940. Schalit was music director at Temple B'rith Kodesh until 1943. He would then serve as music director at Temple Beth El in Providence, Rhode Island until his resignation in 1948. His last full-time position was from 1949-1950 as organist and music director at Temple Israel in Hollywood, California. Schalit's personality was considered by some to be "difficult." This, along with his high musical standards and lack of support for music programs within American synagogues, may have accounted for his inability to maintain long-term synagogue employment.

Schalit, his wife and their two younger sons relocated to Denver in 1948. In 1954, with their children grown, Heinrich and Hilda Schalit purchased a plot of land in the nearby mountains and within a few years had a cabin with an additional room built on it. They moved up their permanently in 1958.

In 1929 Heinrich Schalit began publishing his own music. He would continue to do so in the U.S. This provided him some income as well as the hope that his compositions would be performed in a number of synagogues. With the 1951 publication of his Sabbath Eve Liturgy — and its excellent review in Jewish Music Notes by A.W. BinderSchalit's name became synonymous with high quality American synagogue music. In the 1960s he would receive commissions to compose synagogue music from Congregation Emanu-El in New York, N.Y., Temple E-manu-El of Dallas, Texas, Temple B'rith Kodesh in Rochester, New York and The Temple in Cleveland, Ohio. Schalit would continue publishing his newer music as well as older, revised works throughout the 1970s. He was working on Forget Thy Affliction, a setting of an English translation of a Hebrew poem by Solomon ibn Gabirol (1020-1027), when he died in February 1976.

Note: biographical and bibliographic information comes from the collection and the following sources:

Appleton, Lewis, editor. The Music of Gershon Ephros, Solomon Rosowsky, Heinrich Schalit, Jacob Weinberg. New York: National Jewish Music Council, 1963.

Kahn, Eliott. The Choral Music of Heinrich Schalit. Doctoral essay, The University of Iowa, 1999.

____. An Inventory of the Herbert Fromm Collection. Edited by Naomi M. Steinberger. New York: The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1995.

Schalit, Michael. Heinrich Schalit: The Man and His Music. Livermore, California: Privately printed, 1979.

Related Collections:

Herbert Fromm Collection

top of page


See Caption Below

Enlarge Image

Cover page and Sheet music. Seelenlieder/ music: Heinrich Schalit. Vienna: Universal Edition, 1921. (M2113.4.S32S42 1921)

PROVENANCE

The Heinrich Schalit Collection at the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America consists mainly of the papers of Heinrich Schalit. These five boxes of papers were donated to the library by his son Michael in June-July 1997. Before they arrived the library only held eleven items of Schalit's published music. The papers were augmented in August 1999 with an additional box containing recordings of Schalit's music. Two photographs were also donated in 1999; they are prints from several original photographs still in the personal collection of Michael Schalit. Mr. Schalit also has several of his father's concert programs from Germany, ca. 1908-1930. Most of the of correspondence and subject files in the Schalit papers were already arranged into folders by Michael Schalit, a professional librarian.

top of page



SERIES LIST

I. Archival Material, 1906-1996

  1. Correspondence, 1913-1976; 1996
  2. Subject files, 1906-1994

II. Music composed by Heinrich Schalit, 1906-1976

III. Music and books collected by Heinrich Schalit, 1912-1974

IV. Sound recordings, microfilm, 1952-ca. 1976

top of page


See Caption Below

Enlarge Image

Der Herr der Welt. Translation of Adon Olam by Franz Rosenzweig. Carbon copy in his wife Edith's hand, Germany, 1928. (Box 1, folder 33)

SERIES DESCRIPTION

I. Archival Material, 1906-1996

Boxes 1-2

Schalit's correspondence in Box One consists mainly of letters from American cantors and music directors interested in purchasing, commissioning or performing his music. Of singular importance are the letters from Herbert Fromm (in German), 1943-1975, who premiered many of Schalit's works as music director at Temple Israel in Boston, Mass. (1940-1972). Read together with Schalit's responses in the library's Herbert Fromm Collection (Box 8, folder 20), these letters include personal exchanges, frank criticism of each other's work, correct dates of Schalit's and Fromm's compositions and lists of printing mistakes in Schalit's published music. Other music directors with whom Schalit maintained contact over a long period of time were: A.W. Binder at the Stephen S. Wise Free Synagogue in New York City, 1932-1966; David Gooding at The Temple in Cleveland, Ohio, 1959-1971; and his friend Max Sinzheimer (in German), organist at Temple Sholom in Chicago, ca. 1951-1976.

The collection includes several letters from prominent German-Jewish religious and cultural figures from the inter-war period. There are photocopies of four letters from philosopher Franz Rosenzweig, 1928-1929 — the originals donated to the Rosenzweig Archives at the Vanderbilt University Divinity Library, Nashville, Tenn. Filed with the Rosenzweig correspondence is a carbon copy in his wife's hand — he was paralyzed — of Der Herr der Welt, a German translation of the Hebrew hymn Adon Olam. Schalit had requested this translation from Rosenzweig and set it to music in 1928. There are letters of praise from musicologists Alfred Einstein, 1933 and Curt Sachs, 1932-1951, after the Berlin premiere of Schalit's Eine Freitagabend-Liturgie.Also of interest are letters from three prominent German cantors: Emanuel Kirschner of Munich, 1934-1935; Leon Kornitzer of Hamburg, 1936; and Herman Zivi of Elberfeld, 1932. In addition, there are two letters of recommendation and good wishes from Rabbi Leo Baeck of Berlin, 1930 and 1933.

The largest group of letters, however, are from Rabbi Philip S. Bernstein, 1930-1976. These letters (in English) begin with Rabbi Bernstein's congregation, Temple B'rith Kodesh of Rochester, N.Y., temporarily engaging Heinrich Schalit as their music director for four months in November 1930. The same rabbi and congregation would again host Schalit in April 1966, this time celebrating his eightieth birthday. Rabbi Philip Sidney Bernstein (1901-1985) was appointed by President Harry S. Truman in 1946-1947 to serve as Jewish advisor to the U.S. Army commanders in Europe. There he initiated the Conference of Jewish Material Claims against Germany — a program of financial restitution for Jews displaced and imprisoned under the Nazi regime. Rabbi Bernstein was instrumental in having Heinrich Schalit granted a U.S. visa in 1940, after a seven-year struggle with the State Department. During the family's years of financial hardship in Italy (1934-1939), he solicited and successfully distributed copies of Schalit's Freitagabend-Liturgie in the U.S. Long after Schalit left Rochester in 1943, Philip Bernstein would help his friend procure the funding necessary to publish his musical works, even assisting him in his settlement with the Conference of Jewish Material Claims against Germany.

Highlights of the subject files in Box Two include many reviews of Schalit's music from German newspapers (Clippings, Freitagabend-Liturgie, 1932-1952; Reviews, sacred music, 1932-1975; Reviews, secular music, bulk, 1928-1936; and Scrapbook, 1908-1932). There are a number of Schalit's Personal documents, 1906-1976, that include his graduation certificate from Vienna's Konservatorium für Musik und darstellende Kunst and the State Prize award letter from the Gesellschaft Musikfreunde in Wien, both 1906. Of the two Photos in the collection, one is of a postcard sent from Paul Ben-Haim in Tel Aviv to Schalit in Munich, 1933; the other is of Schalit with Herbert Fromm during the latter's visit to Denver, Colorado in August 1952. Finally, there is Schalit's hand-written copy of his Werkverzeichnis (List of compositions), 1936, which provides opus numbers and dates for most of his musical works up to this time. Because Schalit was continually revising his music, there is some discrepancy between the dates and titles on the Werkverzeichnis and those on the scores themselves. In addition, the Werkverzeichnis includes Schalit's note on page two: "NB: 1916 Beginn der Schaffensperiode der Music jüdischen Inhalts u[nd] jüdischen Characters" ("1916, beginning of the creative period of music of Jewish content and character").

II. Music composed by Heinrich Schalit, 1906-1976

This series constitutes the bulk of the collection. The 105 entries include early manuscript student piano pieces and sketches ([Miscellaneous Music Collection, Instrumental]; Thema mit Variationen, both 1905), as well as the KlavierQuartett, E Moll, op. 2that won Schalit the 1906-07 Austrian State Prize for Composition Students. There are most of Schalit's early post-Romantic Lieder and chamber works that he wrote in Munich from 1907-ca. 1921. There are his seminal published works, composed after changing over to Jewish musical themes and motifs in 1916: Seelenlieder, 1921; In Ewigkeit, 1929; and Eine Freitagabend-Liturgie, 1933. In addition, there are many unpublished manuscripts, which include Yiddish folk song settings (Jewish Popular Songs; Jüdische Volkslieder,both ca. 1925); a vocal/orchestral work (Hymnische Gesänge für Bariton und Orchester, ca. 1926); and an incomplete a cappella choral work (Hymnen der Seele, 1928). From Schalit's years in Italy, there is a published edition of his suite for violin and piano, Danze Chassidiche = Chassidische Tänze, 1936. This work was later revised and performed as Dance Suite for String Orchestra, in 1966. The collection includes almost all of Schalit's published American works, and, presumably, all of his unpublished ones, 1940-1976. Of special interest is the sheet music for "May," 1944, which was in the repertoire of mezzo-soprano Marian Anderson. There is also the holograph transparency of Schalit's 1954 orchestral cantata The Visions. This work appears never to have been performed.

Note: All the musical scores, recordings, published books and microfilm may be accessed through the JTS Library Catalog (Search under "Schalit, Heinrich" or title)

III. Music and books collected by Heinrich Schalit, 1912-1974

Schalit appeared to have little interest in acquiring a personal library, although this might have been a result of his forced emigrations from Germany, Italy and England. The items he did keep shed some light on his musical and literary interests. The music includes holograph scores given to him by other composers, such as his friend Max Sinzheimer (Set Me as a Seal upon Your Heart, 1969; The 23rd Psalm, 1974); and Jewish music composer Samuel Alman (Shir ha-Maalod, ca. 1940), whom he met while living in London. There are quite a few of Alman's published scores in the collection as well, one of which is a string quartet entitled, Ebraica, 1932. Other published scores worthy of mention are Gottfried Rüdinger's set of songs, Sechs Sinnsprüche des Angelus Silesius cherubinischer Wandersmann, 1912; and Ernest Bloch's Baal Schem: drei chassidische Stimmungen für Violine und Klavier,1924 — which may have served as a model for Schalit's own 1936 suite for violin and piano, Danze Chassidiche.

Of the few books in the collection, almost all contain texts that Schalit set to music. There are translations of the Psalms in German and English (Sefer Tehilim, 1916; The Book of Psalms, 1929), as well as Franz Rosenzweig's German translations of Juda ha-Levi's poetry (Jehuda Halevi: zweiundneunzig Hymnen und Gedichte, ca. 1926). Of special value is an annotated copy of volume one of Tefilot le-Khol ha-Shana: Gebetbuch für das ganze Jahr, 1931. This was the "Einheitsgebetbuch," or "Unity Prayer Book" of German Liberal Judaism that Schalit set portions of in his Freitagabend-Liturgie. The prayer book contains a dedication from the music director of Berlin's Lützowstrasse Synagoge, Alexander Weinbaum, who would later perish in Auschwitz, ca. 1943.

Note: All the musical scores, recordings, published books and microfilm may be accessed through the JTS Library Catalog (Search under "Schalit, Heinrich" or title)

IV. Sound recordings, microfilm, 1951-ca. 1976

The sound recordings are either 33 1/3 rpm vinyl platters or 1/4" reel-to-reel tapes at 3 3/4 or 7 1/2 ips speed. All of the recordings contain performances of Schalit's music. Neither the sound quality nor the performance level are of a very high quality, yet some of the recordings may serve as guides for future performances. The two LP recordings conducted by Herbert Fromm (Sabbath eve liturgy, 1952; Music by H. Schalit, 1956) are worth studying in tandem with Schalit's comments in his letters to Fromm (The Herbert Fromm Collection, Box 8, folder 20). There is also a tape recording of the world premiere of Schalit's Organ Prelude (Prelude for Organ) that took place at New York's Temple Emanu-El in November 1963. The microfilm is of all the music in Schalit's papers. It was prepared by Michael Schalit sometime after his father's death in February 1976.

Note: All the musical scores, recordings, published books and microfilm may be accessed through the JTS Library Catalog (Search under "Schalit, Heinrich" or title)

top of page



BOX LIST
    A. Correspondence, 1913-1976; 1996
BOX FOLDER(S) DESCRIPTION
1 1 Adler, Samuel, 1966-1973
  2 Alman, Samuel, 1940
  3 Baeck, Leo, 1930; 1933
  4 Berberich, Ludwig, 1930
  5 Bernstein, Philip S., 1930-1976
  6 Binder, A.W., 1932-1966
  7 Braude, William, 1951-1962
  8 Comunità Israelitica di Roma (Jewish Community of Rome), 1933-1936
  9 Coopersmith, Harry, 1948-1952
  10 Einstein, Alfred, 1933
  11 Ephros, Gershon, bulk, 1951-1956
  12 Freed, Isadore, 1944-1957
  13 Friedman, Herbert A., 1950-1954
  14 Fromm, Herbert, 1943-1975
  15 Gabrilowitsch, Ossip, 1913
  16 Gooding, David, 1959-1971
  17 Gordon, Louis, 1951
  18 Hindemith, Paul, (photocopies) 1945
  19 Jewish Music Council (Leah M. Jaffa), 1949-1963
  20 Kirschner, Emanuel, 1934-1935
  21 Kornitzer, Leon, 1936
  22 Lehman, G.A., 1945-1954
  23 Lilienthal, S., 1934
  24 Lindheim, Irma, 1930
  25 Meisels, Saul, 1951-1959
  26 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1928-1976
BOX FOLDER(S) DESCRIPTION
1 27 Otto Zimmerman & Son Co., Inc., 1963
  28 Palestine Broadcasting Service, 1937-1938
  29 Putterman, David (Park Ave. Synagogue, New York, N.Y.), 1944-1952
  30 RE: Conference of Jewish Material Claims against Germany, 1955-1976
  31 RE: Opus 3 and opus 9, 1976; 1996
  32 Rosbash, Alfred, 1949-1950
  33 Rosenzweig, Franz (photocopies + Der Herr Der Welt), 1928-1929; 1996
  34 Sachs, Curt, 1932-1951
  35 Saminsky, Lazare, 1944
  36 Schalit, Heinrich (replies), 1962; 1974
  37 Schindler, Alexander M., 1975
  38 Silverman, Moses J., bulk, 1972-1974
  39 Singer, Jacob, 1944-1947
  40 Sinzheimer, Max, ca. 1951-1976
  41 Slater, John R., 1953
  42 Soltes, Avraham, 1954-1973
  43 Stone, Earl S., 1966-1975
  44 Straus, Rahel, 1933-1936
  45 Temple Israel of Hollywood [Cal.], 1949-1950
  46 Transcontinental Music Corp. (Joseph, Mari Freudenthal), 1942-1972
  47 Weinberg, Jacob, 1945
  48 Wolfson, Arthur (Temple Emanu-El, New York, N.Y.), 1960-1972
  49 World Center for Jewish Music in Palestine, 1937-1938
  50 Yasser, Joseph, 1945-1946
  51 Zivi, Herman, 1932
    B. Subject Files, 1906-1994
BOX FOLDER(S) DESCRIPTION
2 1 Advertisements of Schalit's music, 1944-1954
  2 Eine Freitagabend-Liturgie, clippings, 1932-1952
  3 Lest We Forget, notes on, ca. 1960
  4 Newsletters, assorted, 1966-1969
  5 Personal documents, 1906-1976
  6 Photos, 1933; 1952
  7 Programs, 1940-1948
  8 Programs, 1949-1972
  9 Programs, posthumous, 1976-1994
  10 Psalm 29, text, notes, ca. 1930
  11 Reviews, sacred music, 1932-1975
  12 Reviews, secular music, 1928-1966; bulk, 1928-1936
  13 Scrapbook, 1908-1932
  14 Werkverzeichnis (List of compositions), 1936
     

top of page