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Modest Altschuler

Modest (Moisei Isaacovich) Altschuler (February 15, 1873 – September 12, 1963) was a cellist, orchestral conductor, and composer.

He was born in Mogilev, then part of the Russian Empire, now in Belarus, into a Jewish family. He studied at the Moscow Conservatory and emigrated to the United States in 1893.

In 1903 Altschuler organized the Russian Symphony Orchestra Society of New York City, which for two decades toured the United States featuring performances and compositions by leading contemporary Russians. Among the Orchestra's notable premieres were Sergei Prokofiev Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 1 in D-flat major, Op. 10, which was performed at Carnegie Hall in New York on December 10, 1918 and Mussorgsky's Prelude to Khovanshchina, which Altschuler presented at Carnegie Hall on February 25, 1905. The Orchestra was among the first established orchestral ensembles to record for the gramophone; Columbia discs of short pieces by Tchaikovsky, Eduard Lassen and others date from about 1910. Nathaniel Shilkret, a member of the Orchestra, notes in his autobiography that soloists in the Orchestra included Mischa Elman, Josef Lhevinne, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Vassily Safanov. Shilkret also noted that the Orchestra "played for the great ballerina Pavlova and her partner Mordkin [1910]."

Despite his rigorous classical training, Altschuler was not averse to modernist experimentation. The Symphony's March 1915 New York premiere of Alexander Scriabin's Promethee: Le Poeme de Feu (Prometheus: The Poem of Fire) with Marguerite Volavy as pianist, featured a newly invented device, the chromola, which rendered musical tones in color [1][2].

After disbanding the orchestra on the eve of the first World War, Altschuler moved to California, where he built a notable reputation as a teacher and performer. With help from his cousin, film executive Joe Aller, he composed and performed in film scores, including The Sea Hawk (1924), Dawn to Dawn (1933), It's All in Your mind (1938), Buffalo Bill Rides Again (1947), and Song of My Heart (1948), He was also active in southern California's musical community. In 1926, he organized the Glendale Symphony Orchestra [3].

Altschuler founded a musical dynasty which includes his niece Eleanor Aller, his grand-nephew symphony conductor Leonard Slatkin, cellist Frederick Zlotkin, violinist Judith Aller, singer/songwriter Jody Cormack and composer Dylan Mattingly. Aller and her husband Felix Slatkin were principals in the Hollywood String Quartet one of America's most accomplished classical ensembles in the period 1947-1961.

Modest Altschuler died in Los Angeles on September 12, 1963.

Birth and Death Data: Born February 15th, 1873 (Mahilioŭ), Died Los Angeles

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1911 - 1928

Roles Represented in DAHR: conductor, composer

Recordings

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor CVE-41979 12-in. 4/18/1928 Russian soldier's song Detroit Symphony Orchestra ; Ossip Gabrilowitsch Orchestra composer  
Columbia 38145 10-in. 7/19/1912 Funeral march of a marionette Modest Altschuler ; Russian Symphony Orchestra Orchestra conductor  
Columbia 30797 12-in. 6/26/1911 Russkaya i trepak Modest Altschuler ; Russian Symphony Orchestra Orchestra conductor  
Columbia 30798 12-in. ca. 1911 Komarinskaja Modest Altschuler ; Russian Symphony Orchestra Orchestra conductor  
Columbia 30799 12-in. ca. 1911 Komarinskaja Modest Altschuler ; Russian Symphony Orchestra Orchestra conductor  
Columbia 30800 12-in. 5/26/1911 Ay ouchniem Modest Altschuler ; Russian Symphony Orchestra Orchestra conductor  
Columbia 30851 12-in. ca. 1911 Festival overture Russian Symphony Orchestra Orchestra conductor  
Columbia 30852 12-in. ca. 1911-Mar. 1912 Largo Russian Symphony Orchestra Orchestra conductor  
Columbia 30953 12-in. ca. 1912 Marche slav Modest Altschuler ; Russian Symphony Orchestra Orchestra conductor  
Columbia 30954 12-in. ca. Jan.-Sept. 1912 Cortege du sardar Modest Altschuler ; Russian Symphony Orchestra Orchestra conductor  

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Altschuler, Modest," accessed October 23, 2020, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110546.

Altschuler, Modest. (2020). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved October 23, 2020, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110546.

"Altschuler, Modest." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2020. Web. 23 October 2020.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110546

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