Alexander Olshanetsky (1892–1946) was a Jewish-American composer, conductor, and violinist. He was a major figure within the Yiddish theatre scene in New York City from the mid-1920s until his death in 1946.
Life and career
Was born in the city of Belz which was then part of the territory known as Bessarabia which was then a part of Imperial Russia, of Lithuanian Jewish descent, Olshanetsky began studying the violin at the age of 6. Then his family moved to Odessa. While a teenager he became a member of the orchestra at the Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater; notably touring with the ensemble throughout Imperial Russia. He then worked as chorusmaster for a touring operetta troupe in Russia. During World War I, he served as a regimental bandmaster in the Russian Army. With the army band he traveled to Harbin, Manchuria, and to Northeast China. In Harbin he began working as a composer and conductor for a Yiddish theater group.
In 1922 Olshanetsky emigrated to the United States. In 1937, his extended family members finally began to come to United States. He quickly became a major presence in the Yiddish theatre scene, and produced numerous musical works for the Lennox Theater in Harlem and the Liberty Theater in Brooklyn. His works were successful, and revivals of most of his works occurred in major cities throughout the United States. He also served as the Concord Hotel's first musical director.
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