Abraham Ellstein (Yiddish: אַבֿרהם "אײב" עלשטײן, Avrom Ellstein, July 7, 1907 – March 22, 1963) was an American composer for Yiddish entertainments. Along with Shalom Secunda, Joseph Rumshinsky, and Alexander Olshanetsky, Ellstein was one of the "big four" composers of his era in New York City's Yiddish Theater District scene. His musical Yidl Mitn Fidl became one of the greatest hits of Yiddish-language cinema.
Life and career
He was born on the Lower East Side, Manhattan, at that time an Eastern European Jewish immigrant area. His musical education began at the Third Street Music School Settlement. From the age of nine to thirteen, he studied piano with Frederick Jacobi. He was the conductor of the boy's choir of the Broadway production Richard III, at only thirteen years old. He went on to study at the Graduate School of Juilliard, training as a conductor, with a major in composition.
Ellstein's only opera, The Golem, had its world premiere at the New York City Opera under the baton of music director Julius Rudel on March 23, 1962. The libretto was created by the composer and his wife, Sylvia Regan, based on the mythical Golem tale of the Central European Jews.
- Der berditshever khosn (The Bridegroom from Berditchev: by Israel Rosenberg, 1930, operetta)
- Eyns un a rekhts (One in a Million: by Anschel Schorr, 1934: musical comedy)
- Yidl Mitn Fidl (Joseph Green or Josef Grünberg, 1936, romantic musical comedy film)
- Oy Mame, Bin Ikh Farlibt (Oh, Mama, I am in Love)
- Mamele: Kid Mother (by Edmund Zayenda, 1938, Poland: Yiddish film)
- Bublitshki (Little Bagels: 1938, operetta)
- Der Nayer Sher (The New Sher, 1940)
- Ikh bin farlibt (I'm in Love: by William Siegel, 1946: romantic musical comedy)
- A Heymisher Bulgar (1947)
- Great to Be Alive! (1950), musical comedy on Broadway
- Vos Iz Gevorn Fun Mayn Shtetele? (Whatever Became of My Shtetl?: by Menashe Skulnik, 1970s, operetta); lyrics: Isidore Lillian
- "Hassidic Dance"
Notes and references
- Program notes Music of Los Angeles Jewish Composers Aminadav Aloni, Michael Isaacson, Robert Strassburg and Hidden Treasures from Prokofiev, Krejn, Fitelberg and Ellstein, Valley Beth Shalom, November 29, 2005. Accessed online 13 November 2006.
- Press Release. Box 1, Abraham Ellstein and Sylvia Regan papers, Collection #7927, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
- Kastendieck, Miles (March 24, 1962). "'THE GOLEM' AT THE CITY CENTER". The New York Journal-American.
- Sargeant, Winthrop (March 31, 1962). "Monster". The New Yorker. Musical Events.
- Ellstein, Abe on the Freedman Catalog, University of Pennsylvania
- Jiddische Filmklassiker: Jiddl mitn Fidl on Abaton-Kino
- Abe Ellstein at IMDb
- Works by or about Abraham Ellstein in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Guide to the Abraham Ellstein papers at the American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY
- The Abraham Ellstein and Sylvia Regan papers at the American Heritage Center.