Joel Spiegelman is an American composer, conductor, concert pianist, harpsichordist, recording artist, arranger, author and teacher.
As a composer, Spiegelman has been widely known for his blending of techniques from traditional classical music, dodecaphonic music, aleatoric music, gospel, Russian folk, and electronic idioms. He has written original music for string quartet, piano trio, piano quintet, chamber music with percussion, solo instruments, wind ensembles, symphony orchestra, ballet, film, choral and vocal music.
Joel Spiegelman was born in Buffalo, New York on January 23, 1933 to Jenny Simon Spiegelman (née Brailov) and Dr. Harry Spiegelman (b. Zhitomir). Both were immigrants from Russia, arriving in the United States as small children during the early years of the 20th century.
Joel Spiegelman has been legally married four times with one long-term partnership. His first marriage was to Gail Voelker. Their marriage lasted 19 years and produced three children: Maia Hunter (b. Paris, France, 6/27/1954); Katia Lief (b. Dreux, France, 12/23/1959); and Eric (b. Boston, MA, 9/29/1962). Erik legally changed his name to Ariel ben-Yaakov.
He has three grandchildren. Harry Hunter (b. Princeton, NJ, 1/3/1992); Eli Lief (b. New York, NY, 11/10/1994); and Karenna Lief (b. New York, NY, 12/30/1997.
Joel Spiegelman’s career has encompassed a variety of musical activities as composer, conductor, pianist, harpsichordist, teacher, and author.
In 1946, he made his debut with the Buffalo Philharmonic. His performance as piano soloist was reviewed in Musical America, giving him national attention.
In the Spring of 1967, Spiegelman was harpsichord soloist with Leonard Bernstein, as the New York Philharmonic performed Edison Denisov’s “Crescendo e Diminuendo”.
He has conducted and recorded with the Saint-Petersburg Philharmonic, the Moscow Philharmonic, the Saint-Petersburg Classical Symphony, the State Symphony of Russia, the Moussorgsky Opera Company of Saint-Petersburg, the Tchaikovsky Orchestra, the Moscow Radio TV Orchestra, and the Metro Philharmonic. In addition, he assembled a group of gifted young professional musicians, to form an international youth symphony (in Moscow).
During June of 2010, Spiegelman conducted a requiem concert with the Kyrgyz National Symphony in memory of the victims of the April 7, 2010 uprising in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. In honor of this event, he composed a new work inspired by the great Kyrgyz author, Chengiz Aitmatov, entitled The Cry of the Bird of Passage. Two years later, he created the International Festival of Music and the Visual Arts in Bishkek which took place during May of 2012 in Bishkek and at Lake Issyk-Kul starring artists from Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Denmark, Greenland, and the United States.
Retrospective concerts of Spiegelman's works were presented Carnegie Hall, Saint-Petersburg (Russia), Vilnius, the Moscow Conservatory, the Kremlin and Bishkek.
Since the late 1970s, Spiegelman has actively pursued the possibilities of electronic media. This interest was first demonstrated in New Age Bach (Atlantic, 1988), which featured his transcription of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. For this album, he played the then-revolutionary Kurzweil 250 keyboard.
List of works
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- Medea - composed an electronic score for the Robinson Jeffers play based on Euripides' Medea performed in 1964 at the Brandeis University's Spingold Theatre*
- They - composed the first electronic music score written for a film based on a novel by Marya Mannes. Produced by NET New York, 1969.
- The Possessed - composed music for a ballet by Pear Land based on the play The Dybbuk. First performed in 1974 at the 92nd Street YMHA in New York City.
- Garofalo: Romantic Symphony, Violin ConcertoJoel Spiegelman, New Moscow Symphony Orchestra & Sergei Stadler 
- My New York for full symphony orchestra, Paris, 1958, World premier Moscow, 1994 by Moscow Radio Symphony