Elyakum Shapirra

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Elyakum Shapirra
Born27 December 1926
Died3 February 2014
London, England
NationalityIsraeli, American (naturalized)
Spouse(s)Bernice Rubin (m 3/3/1953)

Elyakum Shapirra (27 December 1926 - 3 February 2014) [1] was an Israeli conductor who appeared in a number of countries. (His names also appear as Eliakum and Shapira.)

Early life and education[edit]

He studied with Leonard Bernstein, becoming one of his assistant conductors at the New York Philharmonic.[2] He also studied with Serge Koussevitzky at Tanglewood, and at the Juilliard School.[1]


He was Assistant Conductor with the San Francisco Symphony. He led the New York Philharmonic on tours to Canada and Japan in 1960-61.[1] He was guest conductor with the University of the Pacific in 1961.[3] He became Associate Conductor with the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1962 to 1967.[1]

Elyakum Shapirra performing for Israeli soldiers at Auja al-Hafir during Operation Horev, December 1948.

Robert Hall Lewis dedicated his Three Pieces for Orchestra (1966) to Shapirra and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.[4]

He was appointed Chief Conductor of the Malmö Symphony Orchestra in Sweden 1969-1974.[5]

Elyakum Shapirra was the first person to conduct Alexander Scriabin's Prometheus: The Poem of Fire in England with the coloured lighting that the composer called for. This occurred on 4 May 1972 at the Royal Albert Hall with the London Symphony Orchestra.[6]

Shapirra conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and soloist Georges Pludermacher in the posthumous world premiere of Jani Christou's Toccata for Piano and Orchestra (1962), on 23 April 1973 in Oxford.[7]

From 1975 to 1979 he was the Chief Conductor of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in Australia.[8] He was also associated with the Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra in the Netherlands.[9]


In 1972 Shapirra made the first commercial recording of Anton Bruckner's Symphony in F minor ("Study Symphony"), with the London Symphony Orchestra.[10] He also recorded Bruckner's Overture in G minor with the LSO.

Other symphonic recordings included Leonard Bernstein's 1st and 2nd symphonies.[11] He also recorded other standard orchestral repertoire with various orchestras, as well as Israeli, Yemeni and Yiddish songs with popular singers.[12][13]