(b Bezhetsk, 7/20 July 1913; d Krasnoye, near Leningrad, 14 Sept 1941). Russian composer. Although musical as a child, he was a schoolteacher before turning to music seriously. In 1937 he left the Musorgsky Music College, where he had studied with Mikhail Yudin, and entered the Leningrad Conservatory to study composition with Shostakovich. After composing settings of Lermontov and Goethe and a number of piano preludes (all of which were lost), in 1939 he started writing a one-act opera Skripka Rotshil'da (‘Rothchild's Violin’) using his own libretto based on a story by Chekhov. The score was almost finished by June 1941 when Russia became involved in World War II; Fleischmann volunteered and never returned from the front. Shostakovich completed the last few pages of the vocal score and by February 1944 had made a fair copy of the orchestral score. In musical language and dramatic plan the work belongs to the Russian tradition exemplified by Musorgsky and in particular to the tradition of shorter operas established by Rimsky-Korsakov and Rachmaninoff. The first concert performance of the opera took place on 20 June 1960 at the Central House of Composers in Moscow; the first staging occurred at the Experimental Chamber Opera Studio of the Leningrad Conservatory on 24 April 1968.
G.Golovinsky: ‘S lyubov'yu k cheloveku: ob opere V. Fleyshmana “Skripka Rotshil'da”’ [With love for humanity: on Fleischman's opera ‘Rothchild's Violin’], SovM (1962), no.5, pp.28–34
A.Livshits: ‘Veniamin Fleyshman’, Zhizn' za Rodinu svoyu: ocherki o kompozitorakh i muzïkovedakh pogibshikh v Velikuyu Otechestvennuyu voynu (Moscow, 1964), 294–306
L.D'yachkova: ‘Opera V. Fleyshmana “Skripka Rotshil'da”’, Pamyati pogibshikh kompozitorov i muzïkovedov, 1941–1945: sbornik statey, ed. A.V. Bogdanova, i (Moscow, 1985), 70–85
N.Spektor: ‘Spektakli, stavshiye sobïtiyami’ [Productions that have become events], SovM (1987), no.10, pp.87–9 [‘Rothchild's Violin’ at the Bashkir Theatre of Opera and Ballet]
L.Reginya: ‘Skripku otdayte Rotshil'du’ [Give the violin back to Rothchild], Nevskoye vremya (1 June 1991)
IOSIF GENRIKHOVICH RAYSKIN
Fleisher, Edwin A(dler)
(bPhiladelphia, 11 July 1877; d Philadelphia, 9 Jan 1959). American music patron. He studied at the William Penn Charter School in his native city and at Harvard University (BA 1899). In 1909 he founded the Symphony Club of Philadelphia to provide gifted young musicians with a free complete training in the performance of orchestral literature under professional conductors, who have included Johan Grolle, Camille Zeckwer, William F. Happich and Arthur Cohn. As many as 400 students a year have been members of the three orchestras and four theory classes. Fleisher frequently played viola in the orchestras. The club at first was limited to boys from ten to 16 years of age, but Fleisher soon did away with all discrimination on the grounds of age, sex, race or religion. He received the honorary degree of MusD from the Philadelphia Musical Academy in 1924. Originally a yarn manufacturer, he retired from business in 1925 to devote himself full time to music.
Since half of all rehearsals were given over to the sight-reading of new or unfamiliar works, Fleisher began to collect performance material on a large scale. After his retirement he visited the significant musical centres of Europe, returning with 1000 works by 350 contemporary composers. In 1929 he gave the club’s large collection of scores and parts to the Free Library of Philadelphia, where it is maintained in quarters of its own, separate from the library’s music department. During the Depression years of the 1930s, Fleisher Collection custodians, with the assistance of the Federal Works Progress Administration, copied by hand nearly 2000 compositions by contemporary Americans, at a time when no performance material for these works was available. In the 1940s Nicolas Slonimsky was sent to Latin America to acquire material, and returned with some 650 symphonic works.
Since 1929 the Fleisher Collection has grown from 4000 compositions to more than 15,000, making it the largest collection of orchestral performance material in the world. Although it was first intended as a reference collection, regulations were liberalized in order to permit orchestral groups throughout the USA and some foreign countries to borrow (without charge) otherwise unobtainable music for study and performance. A collection of tape and disc recordings is also maintained to facilitate the study of unfamiliar work. A catalogue of the music in the collection was begun in 1933, giving information on instrumentation, movements, duration and first performances, as well as other pertinent facts, which makes it an indispensable tool for libraries and conductors. A complete revision was published in 1979.
The Edwin A. Fleisher Music Collection in the Free Library of Philadelphia: a Descriptive Catalog (Philadelphia, 1933–45; rev. 3/1979 as The Edwin A. Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music in the Free Library of Philadelphia: a Cumulative Catalog, 1929–1977)
A.Bronson: ‘The World’s Greatest Music Library’, American Mercury, lxii (1946), 444–7
P.Garabedian: ‘The Romantic Treasures of the Fleisher Collection’, Symphony, xxxiii/2 (1982), 19–23, 69–70
OTTO E. ALBRECHT
(b San Francisco, 23 July 1928). American pianist and conductor. He gave his first public recital at the age of six, then went in 1938 to Schnabel, who was his teacher until 1948, in Italy and in New York. In 1942 he played the Liszt A major Concerto with Pierre Monteux and the San Francisco SO, and the next year the Brahms D minor. In 1944 he and Monteux again performed the Brahms, this time with the New York Philharmonic-Symphony. Monteux also taught him conducting. In 1952 he was the first American to win the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition, Brussels, and his career became international. By the early 1960s he had made many recordings including a distinguished series of concertos with Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra. In 1963, with the composer conducting the Seattle SO, he gave the first performance of Leon Kirchner’s Second Piano Concerto, which he had commissioned with a grant from the Ford Foundation.
In 1965 his right hand became disabled, and after some years he began to play the left-hand repertory, including Ravel’s Concerto and chamber music by Franz Schmidt. In 1968 he became co-director of the Theatre Chamber Players in Washington, DC, and conductor of the Annapolis (Maryland) SO, a community orchestra. In 1973 he was named associate conductor of the Baltimore SO; he resigned in 1978 in order to accept more engagements as a guest conductor. His ailment was finally diagnosed as focal distonia; after extensive treatment, he returned in 1982 to the standard piano literature, appearing as guest soloist with Comissiona and the Baltimore SO at the inaugural concert of Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.
In 1959 Fleisher joined the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory of Music, where he later held the Andrew W. Mellon Chair in piano; he was also a visiting professor at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem. André Watts and Lorin Hollander were among his pupils. In 1985 he was appointed artistic director of the Tanglewood Music Center, where in 1994 he gave the première of Foss’s Piano Concerto for left hand.
To Monteux, Fleisher at 15 was ‘the pianistic find of the century’. When he was at his peak his playing combined intellectual power, warmth of feeling, grace, taste and sensuous beauty. Although not on the same technical level as his piano playing, his conducting has been marked by equally distinguished musical perception.