Aaron Avshalomov

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Aaron Avshalomov (Russian: Ааро́н Авшало́мов;[1] 11 November 1894 in Nikolayevsk-on-Amur, Russia – 26 April 1965, New York) was a Russian-born Jewish composer.

Born into a Mountain Jewish family, he was sent for medical studies to Zürich.[2] After the October Revolution, in 1917, which made further studies in Europe impossible, his family sent him to the United States. There he married a fellow Russian émigré in San Francisco.[2]

Less than a year later, he chose to return to China,[2] where he entered the world of Shanghai's academia and, together with other highly qualified Jewish musicians (i.e., Alfred Wittenberg, Walter Joachim, Arrigo Foa, etc.), who had fled the Russian pogroms and revolution, trained a number of young Chinese musicians in classical music, who in turn became leading musicians in contemporary China.[3] Between 1918 and 1947, he worked to create a synthesis of Chinese musical elements and Western techniques of orchestral composition.[4] In 1919, his son, Jacob Avshalomov was born, who became a composer and conductor, too.

In 1947, he moved to the USA, where he already had spent three years in the mid-1920s.[2]


  • Kuan Yin (opera named after Guanyin, the bodhisattva of compassion; premiered in Peking in 1925)[2]
  • The Twilight Hour of Yan Kuei Fei (opera, 1933),[2] presumably after the 1923 eponymous book by A. E. Grantham.
  • The Great Wall (opera, 1933–41),[2] based on the legend of Lady Meng Jiang.
  • Piano Concerto in G on Chinese Themes and Rhythms (1935)[5]
  • Flute Concerto
  • Violin Concerto
  • Symphony No. 1
  • Symphony No. 2 (1949, commissioned by Serge Koussevitzky)[2]
  • Dream of Wei Lin (1949)[2]
  • Soul of the Ch'in
  • Hutongs of Peking
  • Four Biblical Tableaux (Queen Esther's Prayer, Rebecca by the Well, Ruth and Naomi, Processional)[4]


References and further reading[edit]

  • Avshalomov, Jacob; Avshalomov, Aaron (2001). Avshalomovs' Winding Way: Composers out of China: A Chronicle. Philadelphia, PA: Xlibris. ISBN 1401023258.