Ernest Bloch

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Bloch, Ernest

Bloch, Ernest (blŏk, Ger. blôkh), 1880–1959, Swiss-American composer. Among his teachers were Jaques-Dalcroze and Ysaÿe. He taught at the Geneva Conservatory, 1911–15, and at the Mannes School, New York, 1917–19; he was director of the Cleveland Institute of Music, 1920–25, and of the San Francisco Conservatory, 1925–30. His music is based in the classical tradition, but it has a peculiarly personal intensity of expression and often a distinct Hebraic quality, as in the Hebrew rhapsody Schelomo and the symphonic poem Israel (both 1916). Other outstanding works are an opera, Macbeth (1909); a concerto grosso, for string orchestra and piano (1925); the symphonic poems America (1926) and Helvetia (1929); a modern setting of the Jewish Sacred Service (1933); and A Voice in the Wilderness, for cello and orchestra (1937).
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Bloch, Ernest


Born July 24, 1880, in Geneva; died July 16, 1959, in Portland, Oregon. Swiss and American composer, violinist, conductor, and teacher.

Among Bloch’s teachers were E. Jaques-Dalcroze and E. Ysaye. He was a professor at the Geneva Conservatory (1911–15), and an orchestra conductor in Switzerland (1909–10) and in the USA (conducting his own works). In 1917, Bloch settled in the USA. He was director of the Cleveland Institute of Music (1920–25) and professor and director of the San Francisco Conservatory (1929–30). From 1930 to 1938 he lived in Europe.

As a composer, Bloch worked with many genres, including opera (Macbeth, produced in 1910 at the Opéra-Comique in Paris); two symphonies; symphonic poems and suites; rhapsodies; concertos (including pieces for violin and orchestra); works for string orchestra, chamber ensembles, and various instruments; and vocal compositions, most of them religious. In his more important works, which are characterized by their vivid melodic quality and great variety of rhythmic effects, Bloch has skillfully put into modern musical settings typical features of ancient and contemporary Jewish melody (the symphony with voices Israel, the rhapsody for cello and orchestra Schelomo, a religious service for baritone, choir, and orchestra, and others). Bloch was the author of various articles, including “Man and Music” (1933).


Tibaldi-Chiesa, M. Ernest Bloch. Turin, 1933. (Contains a bibliography.)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Bloch, Ernest

(1880–1959) composer; born in Geneva, Switzerland. He studied around Europe before his opera Macbeth appeared, to critical grousing over its modernism, in Paris (1910). After teaching in Geneva he emigrated to the U.S.A. in 1917, where he held several teaching posts (his remarkable roster of students included Antheil and Sessions) and gained an international reputation as a composer. He spent most of the 1930s in Switzerland. His works, in a rich late-Romantic vein with touches of modernism and often reflecting his Jewish heritage, include five string quartets and Schelomo for cello and orchestra (1915).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.