Yellow Stars: Purimspiel in Ghetto: Concerto for orchestra in seven movements. Full score.
Isaac Schwartz is a composer of the 'Shostakovich Era' (as the great Russian poet Anna Akhmatova called it). Born in 1923 in Romni, Ukraine, he graduated from the Leningrad Conservatory in 1951 where he studied composition under Boris Arapov and Orest Yevlakhov. In the years between 1945 and 1948 he was always in the audience of Dmitry Shostakovich's master class.
Schwartz is the author of two symphonies, a cantata for chorus with orchestra, a number of quartets, trios, a violin sonata, and numerous romances and songs. The composer's orchestral and chamber works are remarkable for their vivid thematic content and emotional vigor. Their musical language is comprehensible and their impact is immediate. 'His music is simple to the point of real greatness. This is not a primitive simplicity, this is a simplicity pure of anything superfluous, of any striving for a deliberate, artificial complexity... His music touches your heart and soul', -said conductor Nikolay Alekseev in his interview to TV channel 'Kul'tura' ('Culture').
Schwartz's ballets 'On the Eve' and 'The Wonderland', as well as his most recent ballet, 'White Nights' dedicated to the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg, were performed on the stages of many theatres all over Russia.
The composer's collaboration with prominent Russian director, Georgy Tovstonogov, proved very successful. He wrote music for quite a few remarkable productions of the great director, such as 'The Idiot', The Distress of Being Smart' [Woe from Wit), 'Those Who Did Not Surrender', Any Wise Man Could be a Simpleton.
Writing music for the cinema occupies a special place in Schwartz's work. He composed soundtracks for more than 100 films, including some masterpieces of the Soviet and Russian cinema: 'Brothers Karamazov', 'The Star of Enchanting Happiness', 'Control on the Roads', A Hundred Days after Childhood' and 'The White Sun of the Desert.' Spirited and melodious songs from these and other films are much loved by millions of filmgoers both in Russia and abroad.
Shostakovich's close friend, film director Leo Arnshtam, wrote to Schwartz on March 29, 1969: "...there is good news for you. Shostakovich has recently seen all the three parts of 'Brothers Karamazov'. He specifically dwelt on your music: 'The music is really striking. I felt shaken by some fragments. Schwartz is a great musician. And once again he made me sure of it."
One of the creative highlights of Schwartz's life was his collaboration with the great Japanese film director, Akira Kurosawa, whose movie 'Dersu Uzala' was made at the Moscow Film Studio. In one of his interviews, Kurosawa said that among many candidates to choose from, he chose particularly composer Isaac Schwartz because he was fascinated with his music to the film The Station Keeper'.
A universally acknowledged master of music for the cinema, Schwartz never lost interest in the symphonic genre. In 2000, he completed his Concerto for orchestra in seven movements, The Yellow Stars' (composed in memory of the Holocaust victims). The idea of this work was conceived when he was deeply impressed by the reminiscences of a prisoner of the Kaunas (Lithuania) ghetto. The Concerto's premiere was held the same year as it was composed, in the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Hall.
In 2004, The Yellow Stars' Concerto was performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia under the baton of prominent musician, Vladimir Spivakov, to whom this composition was dedicated by the author.
1. Morning Prayer
2. Chorale and Theme with Variations
3. Merry Dance
6. Evening Prayer. Last night in the ghetto
Number of pages: 171
Publisher: P.JURGENSON PUBLISHERS
Year of publishing: 2008