Ernest Bloch, classical music composer

Ernest Bloch image

Ernest Bloch

Biography

A prominent American composer who influenced several others in the generation succeeding him, Ernest Bloch was actually born in Switzerland, to a manufacturer of watches and clocks, on July 24, 1880. At the age of nine he began studying violin and soon after began composing. His musical education was diverse, taking him to the conservatory in Brussels, the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt, Germany, and then Paris.

In 1916, Bloch toured the United States as the conductor of a dance company. However, he suddenly found himself stranded in the country when the troupe went broke. Nevertheless, Bloch made the most of the bleak situation. In 1920, he became the first Musical Director of the newly formed Cleveland Institute of Music. Four years later, he became a naturalized U.S. citizen, and in 1925 was appointed the director of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Resigning from his teaching roles in 1930, Bloch returned to Switzerland where he remained for the next decade. He actively composed during this time and travelled Europe promoting and conducting his music. Yet, the rise of Nazi Germany and the threat of war forced him to return the U.S. In 1941, he settled in the small community of Agate Beach, Oregon on the Pacific Coast. He was appointed a professor at the University of California in Berkeley and taught summer courses until his retirement in 1952. On July 15, 1969 he died of cancer in Portland, Oregon.

An individually-minded composer, Bloch's early music was influenced by the late Romanticism of Richard Strauss and the Impressionism of Claude Debussy. Bloch maintained his relatively Romantic-infused idiom for much of career, though he dabbled in more modern techniques, such as neo-Classicism and atonality. He is best known for his more mature works which drew heavily on Jewish liturgical and folk music, including Schelomo for cello and orchestra, the Israel Symphony, and Avodath Hakodesh (Sacred Service) for baritone, choir and orchestra. He also won a competition in 1927 for his rhapsody America for chorus and orchestra.

Bloch's influence also went beyond his music. His daughter, Suzanne, second of his three children, followed in her father's footsteps as a musician and taught harpsichord, lute and composition at the Julliard School of Music. Among his students during his various teaching appointments throughout his career were George Antheil, Frederick Jacobi, Bernard Rogers, and Roger Sessions.


Composer Title Date Action
Ernest Bloch Méditation hébraïque for cello and piano 04/17/2009 Play Add to playlist
Ernest Bloch Prayer, From Jewish Life 05/03/2009 Play Add to playlist
Ernest Bloch Prayer, From Jewish Life 01/27/2009 Play Add to playlist
Ernest Bloch Nigun, from Baal Shem Suite 01/13/2009 Play Add to playlist
Ernest Bloch Suite Modale 01/12/2009 Play Add to playlist
Ernest Bloch Three Nocturnes for Violin, Cello and Piano 08/12/2010 Play Add to playlist
Ernest Bloch Baal Shem 04/11/2013 Play Add to playlist
Ernest Bloch Teaser Cd "Poème mystique" -Ernest Bloch, Arvo Pärt 01/26/2013 Play