Born on 23 October 1892 in
Odessa, Ukraine. His father was a merchant. He learned
in a cheder, Yiddish school and in a gymnasium. As a
six-year-old child, he manifested an ability to play the
violin, and his father enrolled him in the Odessa
imperial musical school, where he remained for nine
years, and he learned to play various instruments.
Due to his desire to wander,
he left his home against the wishes of his parents, and
in 1917 went away with the orchestra of the Odessa Opera
as a violinist. Thus he wandered across Southern Russia
and Siberia, where he entered into a Russian operetta
troupe as a choral director. Meanwhile, during wartime,
he was taken in as a soldier and he became the
bandmaster of his regiment. With his regiment he turned
up in Kharbin, where he encountered a Yiddish troupe
under the direction of Fiszon, and when Sandler
suddenly left the troupe and went away to America, O.,
with the permission of the regimental commander, became
the conductor of the Yiddish troupe.
Here he began to write music
for Yiddish operettas. His first composition was for
Yitzhak Kaplan's operetta "Tsurik aheym keyn tsion
(Going Back Home to Zion)," then for Fogelnest's "Aronchik
The conditions in Kharbin,
however, became difficult for Yiddish theatre, and O.
joined a Russian operetta troupe, with whom he toured
for several years across Japan, China and India.
In 1921 he returned to
Kharbin; however, he no longer encountered Yiddish
troupes, and [so] he went off to America, where in
1922 he arrived at his uncle's, the actor Hyman
Here he felt for the
first time the true sense of a "greenhorn"
until Schwartz got him the opportunity to write music
for Andreyev's "Anathema", Sackler's "Yizkor" and
for Zhulavsky's drama "Shabtai tsvi"; however, this
didn't change his situation much. He thence went to
Cuba as the conductor of an itinerant opera troupe,
and when he first returned he wrote music for
Isidore Lash's operetta "Di freylekhe kaptsonim",
which was performed at the Lenox Theatre, and he
became engaged as the conductor and composer for
that theatre. There he composed music for "Tsigayner
prints" by Siegel, "Palestiner libe
(Palestine Love)" by Isidore Lillian. A
season later, he was engaged by Rolland for the
Liberty Theatre, where he composed music for the
successful operettas "Zise libe" and "Der goldene
soldat" by L. Freiman. Since 1927 he is engaged at
the National Theatre, where he has composed music
for many operettas and melodramas, from which he has
had a special success: "In gortn fun libe" by
Kalmanowitz and Siegel; "A gan eydn far tsvey" by Siegel,
and "Itsikl sholtik" and "Der litvisher yankee"
by Isidore Lash.
Season 1929-30 -- wrote
music for the operetta "Di eyntsike nakht" by
Avraham Blum, and "Mazel in libe" by Meyer Schwartz
(both staged at the National Theatre.)
On 24 February 1929, A.
staged for the first time on the radio in New York
his adapted orchestration of Goldfaden's "Bar kokhba."
A. Frumkin --
Vegen operetes idishe ngin -- un amerikaner
rz?shen, "Morning Journal", N. Y., 24 February
Ts. H. R. -- A.
olshanetsky's radio oyffirung fun "bar kokhba",
"Tog", N. Y., 22 February 1929.