Songs and chamber music by Mikhail Fabianovich Gnesin (1883–1957)

Mikhail Fabianovich Gnesin (Mikhail Fabianovich Gnessin) is one of the great twentieth-century composers. He was a founding member of the Petersburg ‘Society for Jewish Folk Music’ (1908), a group of young Jewish composers who wanted to create a Jewish national composers school.
Gnesin composed many significant works inspired by Jewish musical traditions. He played an important role in the musical culture of Russia and was influential as a music theoretician and teacher in the first half of the twentieth century. During the Stalin regime his music was unjustly forgotten and could only be performed much later. “The music of Gnesin will be one of the discoveries of the twenty-first century” –A.G. Yusfin.

Performed by an ensemble of six musicians (with changeable personnel):

Sovali – soprano
Perry Robinson / Michel Marang – clarinet
Grigory Sedukh – violin / piccolo violin
Alexander Oratovski / Alexander Sagalovich – cello
Anat Fort / Marcel Worms / Reinild Mees / Galina Fialko / Paul Prenen / Simon Nabatov – piano
Roberto Haliffi / Michael Vatcher - percussion.

  • October/November 2002:
    concert series in various Dutch cities supported by: VSBfonds, SNS Reaal Fonds, C.O.S., and the Maatschappij tot Nut der Israëlieten in Nederland.
  • November 2002: Concerts for AMJ in Geneva and for London Arts Fest / JMI London supported by the Royal Dutch Ambassies in Switserland and Great-Britain.
  • September 2003: Concerts in St.-Petersburg and Moscow at the ‘Days of Dutch Culture, St.-Petersburg 2003 – Window on the Netherlands’ celebrating the 300th anniversary of St.-Petersburg - supported by the Fund for Amateur Art and Performing Arts, the Prince Bernhard Culture Fund, the Wilhelmina E. Jansen Fund and the Petersburg Jewish Community Centre.

    To be continued…

Dutch singer/musicologist Sofie van Lier (Sovali) discovered Gnesin’s music in 2001 and began collecting his works with the help of colleagues. In Gnesin she found an extremely gifted composer whose works are characterized by melodic intensity, liveliness and artistic originality.
Now that many of his scores have been recovered from libraries and private collections, Gnesin’s music can be performed and heard at last.

The programme to be presented is varied and consists of two song cycles, “Hebrew Songs” and “The Story of Red-headed Mottele”, several pieces for chamber music ensemble, “A Nigun fun Schajke-Pfaifer”, “Song of a Knight Errant”, “Violin Sonata”, or “Trio”, and “Three Melodies,” and the orchestral suite “Jewish Orchestra at the Ball of the City Mayor,” incidental music Gnesin wrote for Meyerhold’s performance of Gogol’s “Revisor”.

Some reactions

Museum “De Buitenplaats,” Eelde:
”We enormously enjoyed the fascinating programme… already assuming that something exceptional was awaiting us … you did not prove us wrong…The musicians inspired playing set the audience aflame …they were ravingly enthusiastic.”

AMJ, Geneva:
“Your appearance was a wonderful experience for all of us here … it is one of the year’s nice souvenirs.”

JMI, London:
“This concert really gave London the opportunity to hear the varied output of this composer for the first time.”

Programme and commentary
(Download PDF file)

Programme text

(Download Pdf file)

Musicians’ resumees
(Download PDF file)

Visual material


From the press
> Interview Sheila Gogol / LJG sept. 2002 (PDF file)

Projects overview