Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Michael Gelbart

G. was born on 21 August 1889 in Ozorkow, Poland. At age six he became a choir boy for his father, a prominent Jew and a prayer leader in about a year -- by being a stand-in for a cantor and having the opportunity to participate in children's roles in "amateur" productions of historic plays. Ten he sang as a choir boy for Kutno's cantor. At age fifteen he became a chorus singer for Zandberg in Lodz. At age sixteen --conductor for that city's shul.

In 1909-10 he traveled across the province with the troupe under the direction of Rose Ansein. There G. wrote music for [aybernakht] written play and because of an emergency by himself wrote a play "Mkkirt yosef". In 1911 he traveled across the province with the troupe of Mitelman and Adolf Berman.

In 1912 he immigrated to America, and in 1916 was conductor and pianist in a provincial trope under the direction of Blumen and Silberkasten. Here G. used to write the music for Silberkasten's plays, which the troupe used to perform. Then G. settled in a small town, where he was cantor, and in 1917 he became a teacher of singing and general studies in the "Arbeiter Ring" school.

G. published a series of articles about Yiddish music, wrote critiques about music and the business of song composition for the younger Yiddish poetry.

G. wrote compositions for the following children's plays: "Veys-shneyele' by Y. Ravin (staged in Philadelphia's Arch Street Theatre), "Vinter-valkh" by David Kasel (staged in Philadelphia's Academy of Music), "Di sukhrim fun fefer" by Y. Kotler (staged in several cities), and several were performed by the "Modiacot Theatre".

In the summer of 1929 G. rote music and staged in the "Kinderland Kamp" Isaac Platner's "Vos der tog dertseylt", and two "neyland"-productions by B. Mazar and Y. Kaminetsky.

A part of G.'s compositions were under the name "Lomir kinder zingen", issued through the "Areter Ring School" in America.

In 1928 G. was conductor for Philadelphia's "Freyheyt"-gezangs-fareyn.

Sh. E.

  • Zalmen Reyzen -- "Lexicon of the Yiddish Literature", Vol. I, pp. 598-9.

  • Di yudishe muzik in amerika (a shmues mit gelbardn) "Nfl"bt", Lodz, 28 July 1928.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1,  page 496.

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