Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Israel Glatstein


Born in 189.... in Gostinin, Poland. Father -- a varshtn worker, his grandfather a melamed. He learned in a cheer and with his grandfather.

As to his bn-eir, the former chorister and future conductor Julius Miller tells that G. sang with his father, the Gostinin cantor, with whom he later had also learned notes and harmony.

According to the composer Michael Gelbart, Glatstein was a Yiddish composer and created Yiddish music for the Yiddish folk masses, but the truth is quite another: both had arrived in 1908 as choristers in Yiddish theatre for Yitzhak Zandberg for eight rubles a month. Both had hired a beggar in a cheap inn in Baluti, to go to a tryout for the productions in torn shoes, but at the same time industriously studied and perfected himself in musical compositions.

According to Miller, G.'s first composition was for Itzhak Katzenelson's song "Di zun fargayt in flamen", because he had won the prize in a competition of "romantsaytung".

According to Gelbart, after several years of hunger and study, both left Lodz and left in the world areyn: Gelbart without America, and G. without Lublin, where he had begun to create his compositions.


 According to Miller, he had met G. as a chorister in Warsaw's "Elizeum" Theatre, and that he had studied in the Warsaw conservatory.

In 1920 in Warsaw, there was published G.'s first large collection "Gezang un shpil", fifty compositions with the texts of Moshe Broderzon and Itzhak Katzenelson. These were sung and became popular in the Yiddish shuls in Europe, and in the American lands. Especially known and popular were his creations: "Marsh-lid", "Tsipele" (recorded by Masha Benia), "Feld-arbet" and "Blumen".

G. wrote the music for Itzhak Katzenelson's operetta [not opera, but noted everywhere] "Fatima" (staged in Warsaw's "Kaminski" Theatre, and on 11 November 1920 by Maurice Schwartz in New York's "Irving Place" Theatre.

Around 1921 N. traveled to Berlin, where he studied in the "High School of Music", and he became choral conductor in the large Berlin synagogue and later in Leipzig.

According to Gelbart, Glatstein had created in Germany many important musical works, which had been praised in the Yiddish musical world, among them: "Khurbn" and "Shulamis", which were issued in New York by Joseph P. Katz's Musical Publishing House (later "Metro Music Company").

When Hitler came to power in Germany, G. in 1939, as a Polish citizen, was sent away from Germany, and arriving in Warsaw, he had in a conversation in "Haynt" stated that he had composed the music for the play "The Travels of Benjamin III", which the Yiddish "Kultur-bund" had staged in German with great success in Germany.

Di, who had known G. related that he also had written papers about music in the Yiddish press and periodicals.

During the Second World War, G. remained in Warsaw. Michael Gelbart had received a letter from him (15 September 1939), in which he wrote: "Be yourself and take pity on me and bring me over to America".

In the "Lerer Yizkor Book" it was written: "When in the ghetto the Yiddish theatre became renewed, in the specially renovated "Skala" Theatre, Israel Glatstein was the musical director. He remained in Warsaw and there was killed among all the Jews".

Jonat Turkow writes: "During the last [Second World] war, he was very active in Warsaw's ghetto, where he had organized the first revelers chorus. Glatstein was killed in one of the German concentration camps".

In Itzhak Katzenelson's "Khtbim akhrunim", it was written that in the Warsaw ghetto, G. wrote a composition for Katzenelson's song "Aroys iz a yid oyf der gas".

M. E. from Julius Miller.

  • "Lexicon of the New Yiddish Literature", Vol. II, New York, 1958, pp. 262-63.

  • Israel Glatstein -- Dos idishe kultur-leben in yetstigen deytshland, "Haynt", Warsaw, 11 January 1939.

  • Itzhak Katzenelson -- "Khtbim akhrunim", Israel, 1948.

  • Jonas Turkow -- "Farloshene shtern", Buenos Aires, 1953, Vol. II, pp. 148-49.

  • "Lerer Yizkor Book", New York, 1954, pp. 101-103.

  • Emanuel Ringelbaum -- "Khtbim fun ghetto", Warsaw, Vol. II, 1963, p. 205.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 5, page 4550.

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