Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Peretz Sandler


Born on 18 May 1881 in Lunna, Grodno Gubernia, Polish-Lite (Lithuania). His father was a religious teacher. He studied in a cheder (Jewish elementary school), later moving with his parents to Odessa, where he graduated from the municipal school.

From his early youth he had an inclination for music, which his parents had tried to choke off. In Odessa S. also studied in a music school. As an adolescent in Odessa, he joined a business as a bookkeeper.

When his parents immigrated to England (Glasgow), S. went off by himself to Warsaw, where he enrolled to study in a conservatory, and at nights at the same time he took private lessons with Matisyahu Bensman.

After completing the conservatory as a "military kapellmeister," S. Went to Uman as a conductor for the local symphony orchestra and also performed--by accident--for a short time as the conductor of the guest-starring Yiddish troupe, which was under the direction of Meyerson, where he debuted with a composition (a Romanian dance) for the imported operetta, "The Jewish Heart" by Lateiner.

On the recommendation of Meyerson, S. later became engaged to Kompaneyets on very many [noyse-kheyn] for the public in the Muranow Theatre in Warsaw, but not finding any suitable opportunities there for work, he soon joined the troupe of Sam


Adler at the Krolewski Theatre as a conductor, where he wrote without a composition to the song, "Amalia" (Esther Neroslavaska), for Schiller's "The Robbers." This composition pleased so much of the public and the theatre circle, that Sam Adler soon had him write music for Lateiner's operetta, "Joseph With His Brothers," which then went on to have great success, thanks to his adapted, Oriental music.

About his writing, Julius Adler writes:

"S. has acquired a name in the artistic circles in Warsaw for his "Joseph and His Brothers." Then I met him, and he made a deep impression on me, making his ideas known [to me], passing from one tone to a second, his nuances, his fargreserte and farklenerte septimen-akordn, nanen-akordn, musical retshitativ, beautiful melodies, counterpoints and in general the "music," which he arranged in such a shmatedike play as Lateiner's "Josef With His Brothers." I have seen in him a bright star for a developing Yiddish theatre."

Together with the troupe S. went to Kiev, where he worked as a conductor in the Russian operetta troupe of Novikov, soon going over to Krause's Yiddish troupe and, through him, continued to work with the "United Troupe" in Warsaw, and from there he went over to Epelberg's troupe, where he wrote without music for the operetta, "The Jew in Morocco" and then joined Kaminsky in the newly found Kaminsky theatre, where he wrote music for Avraham Yitzchok Kaminsky's operettas, "Akiva mit di talmudim" and "Avn ezra, der yidisher minister."

1912-- S. was together with Jacob Libert and H. Epelberg (A, Kompaneyets--manager), the owners of the Elyzeum. Later in Warsaw, where there was staged for the first time (with Esther Neroslavska, Jacob Kelter and S. Landau) the European operetta, "Shva," "Shoshana di tsnueh" and "Gypsy Love" (translated by Pesakh Kaplan and Jacob Waxman).

1913-- S. was, together with his wife Esther Neroslavska, was engaged by Thomashefsky for his New York's National Theatre, but he had to content himself with writing music for the prologue of Dymow's "The Eternal Wanderer" (12 December 1913), and he conducted only nine times the production of "Eva"; his further activity was disturbed by the former musician's union.

After accompanying his wife on her guest appearances across London, Paris and Czernowitz, where S. also staged and conducted the operetta, he came back to Warsaw, where he was taken into the military. Freed after serving for six months, he was in Vilna where he conducted in the local troupe of Lipowski, where he staged his translated, European operettas, then he traveled with various Yiddish troupes until Vitebsk, where it was forbidden to play in Yiddish, and the troupe went over to play the Yiddish repertoire (from Gordin to Thomashefsky) in a Russian translation. In Vitebsk S. was further mobilized, but he fled again to Kharbin, where he conducted for almost a year's time there in the assembled Yiddish troupe.

In March 1917 S., together with his wife, went over to Japan and Canada to New York. Here he wrote without music for the operetta, "The Gypsy Aza" (May 1917) in the National Theatre, but, due to the union conditions, he could not become engaged in New York, and he was thus engaged in Philadelphia for the 1917-18 season to Hershel Zuckerberg and Samuel Goldinburg, where he had to be content with writing "illustrated music" for the melodramas, which were playing in this theatre, among others. For Solotorefsky's "Wedding Ring," "How a Man Loves[?]," "The King of Love[?]" and "Mother's Love."

For the 1918-19 season S. was engaged by Anshel Schorr in his Philadephia Arch Street Theatre, where he continued to write only "illustrated music," including the music for the melodramas, "Palestine Mothers" and Solotorefsky's, "Children, Come Home."

For the 1919-1920 season S. was engaged by Max R. Wilner and Maurice Schwartz in Philadelphia, where besides "illustrated music" for the staged melodramas, he also wrote without the composition, for the operetta, "Amol in may (Maytime)," (lyrics and songs adapted into Yiddish by Maurice Schwartz). The operetta was staged in Philadelphia for twenty-six weeks, which was then considered a big record in the history of Yiddish theatre in Philadelphia, and S.'s name as a composer was very popular in the Yiddish theatre circles of New York. In April 1920 he went with Schwartz and his Philadelphia troupe to New York and staged the operetta on 20 April 1920 in the Irving Place Theatre.

For the 1920-21 season S. was engaged by Julius Nathanson in Boston, where there was staged, "Once Upon a Time" under the name, "Das eybike lidele." Here S. wrote among other compositions, the music for Freiman's operetta, "The Son of Israel" and "Velvele khvat" and for Dymow's "Jerusalem."

By that time A. was taken in as a member of the musician's union, and he had the opportunity to work in New York.

For the 1922-23 season S. was engaged by Julius Adler and Herman Serotsky in the Liberty Theatre, where there was staged for the opening on 8 September 1922, Julius Adler's operetta, "Country Love," with music by S. About the writing, Julius Adler says: "For the opening of the season, I put on my operetta, "Country Love." Sandler wrote the entire summer music for her. The entire Yiddish musical world (in New York) was deeply interested in the two new authors. And a great impression was made by Sandler's music, but his nit?-farginers treystn zikh. That it was only by coincidence that the music had he had prepared for the entire summer, which for him was that the tunes were not sufficient for the entire season A. that V. (?)-- and here it became very disappointing. For the beginning of the same season they had several of the New York theatres stage Moshe Schorr's play, "Before the Wedding." The play, due to the bad acting of the actors, and due to the normal, music template, failed. I bought the play, "Makh" ZI a little oyber. "Shneyd" ZI for my theatre, and Sandler wrote the new music. Here Sandler himself demonstrated in his greatness, having the play as an operetta (called "A Frolic Wedding"), which was of greater scope than my "Country Love.""

The Liberty Theatre did not exist for a long time. S. still wrote music for Libin's "Meydlshe khezhboynes (A Girl's Calculations?)" (31 December 1922 in the Royal Union Theatre) and for the operetta, "Di geferlekhe meyd" (30 March 1923) in the Lenox Theatre. S.'s name, however, was very popular, and for the 1923-24 season, he was engaged in the National Theatre (managers: Louis Goldberg and M. Saks), where on 11 September 1923 there was staged Moshe Schorr's operetta, "The Romanian Wedding" (the prior play, "Before the Wedding," or, "A Frolic Wedding") with new music by S. The operetta was played for several months, and the theatre critics were unanimous, that the success they had to thank S.'s new tunes in the music. Thus Dr. A. Mukdoiny writes: "'The Romanian Wedding" is destined to have a good musician--Peretz Sandler. Peretz Sandler went away from the stock Yiddish operetta music, from the dull musical ziftsele, from the semi-tearful hofkele. From every ofgedroshene zmirotlekh, from every bet-hamedrash-like musical melodies, and from the ostensibly presented folk music. Bernstein writes something: "From pieces and crumbs that people have from time to time heard from Sandler, who himself created an entirely good impression, however not everything had been expected, that he had "made good" in a greater matter for a great Yiddish theatre. "The Romanian Wedding" has however shown that Sandler is an important musical force, and that the managers (theatre managers) have made a great mistake that they until now had not seen in him.... Even though the Romanian village in the Romanian, Oriental, sentimental motifs, predominates, and the combination is a device, because these motifs are close to the Jewish heart. .... Sandler is especially successful in "Hg hasif" for the peasants. The second act -- the parade act -- is the most musical of all and and indeed the most beautiful too." Israel the Yankee [I. Friedman] writes: "The music in the song-and-dance comedy, "The Romanian Wedding," hadn't any central idea, no main point on which all of the melodies shall come together and draw from their musical existence, so to say. But the individual numbers were so lively, so..... that the audience danced under from under their seat [places]. Some of the numbers were Romanian, sad and happy -- among which it made me feel the famous Romanian "doina," and also the "hora."

On 18 January 1924 there was staged in the National Theatre H. Kalmanowitz's, "Papa's Boy." This is actually not an operetta, but S. only had it "clothed" with musical numbers, but also it evoked very good [words} from the critics about S.'s music: "In the comedy there were many numbers sung and enough music adapted by Peretz Sandler. And, however, the whole thing becomes unfocused around the music, nevertheless here there were very many numbers, which forced the audience to forget it, the pace and development, in the importance of the music." [B. I. Goldstein] "As to the contents comes the music of Peretz Sandler, who has that he can not only write excellent farnyales and volekhlekh, but also music of another fashion, the melodies were light and brought about a happy mood before the comical situations developed."

The season ended with the production (on 28 March 1924) of N. Rakowe's operetta, "Mendel From Japan," music by S., also this at times calls upon the critic to be very positive about S.'s music. B. I. Goldstein as such writes; 'Rather this is music created by a Yiddish shtimungsfuln compozitor. who spent (oysgeven) where the world has no end, Has called for with all the delicate gebet-shtrikhn and Elegy of the nations and countries. And now, when he began to create the built-up (ongezamltn) source of his melody in "Mendel in Japan." People became fascinated, also convinced that S. also possessed the ability for harmony. Ambultstin has the ongezen in the beginning of the second act, and also in other choral numbers. ...and when the Yiddish operetta stage wanted his rich (reykh) with a talented singer, each in his field, he was able to bring out the distant and deepest of every vocal. ... We have farzikht a musician, who possesses a great source of melody, to which he had at first tsugerirt, and which he uses out farsheydnartik and cautious (farzichtik). And how deep and large the source might not be -- one is sure that he is full of swing, and is easy, nice, typical aferetenmesik." Liliput writes in the "Frayhayt": "The leitmotif alone has been pleasantly arumgekhapt the soul, and the composer has immediately received the the kosher-sardintn applause. ...The Japanese motif simply excited the operetta."

For the 1924-25 season S. continued to be engaged as a composer and conductor in the National Theatre, where on 3 October 1924 Israel Rosenberg's operetta, "Caucasian Love" opened, with music by S., and the critics continued be excited: "Sandler's music for "Caucasian Love" is of the type that goes much further than the stage lights. It goes over to the audience, and from there it is very possible that it may enter, marching in with farbrikn abundance, and in the homes. Sandler doesn't go to the classical, apparently from there with a deep "Torah." He goes to the Bavarian folkskveln (this time the Caucasians and other Russian folk-motifs), and also to the Yiddish folkskveln, and takes it on his own vessels and makes it the partly tsekeyt and partly fardeyt. The public should not kneytshn the stars to grasp the "depths" of the music, only the music goes directly to their heart and understanding" [Israel the Yankee]. "From Sandler's music smite a warmth, the motif a melodic, Oriental-Yiddish" [R. Levin]. Entirely another writes a review in the "Frayhayt," "N. Buchwald: "The music moved too much, so it's hard to gain a sense of whether Peretz Sandler's music is good or not."

On 5 November 1924 in the same theatre there was staged Avraham Shomer's comedy, "A Point of Order," and on 28 January 1925--Solotorefsky's, "Three Wives" (both with music by S.)

The season ended (on 3 April 1925) with the staging of Israel Rosenberg's operetta, "A Wedding in Palestine," with music by S. About the writing, B. I. Goldstein states: "The leitmotif in the Hora dance were the two pearls with which Sandler is most proud. However, there are also other numbers that were very gerostene." Ab. Cahan writes: "Sandler's music has in itself taste and juice. Several of his melodies were .... They created a music ambiance"

For the 1925-26 season S. continued to be connected as a composer and conductor in the National Theatre. On 19 September 1925 the season opened with Sheine Rukhl Simkoff's, "Before The Wedding," music by S., and on 17 November there was staged L. Freiman's operetta, "Models of Love," music by S, further becoming the music for the operetta unanimously very well received by the theatre critics: "Peretz Sandler musical and directorial ability is felt amshtarkstn in the said operetta" [Dr. A. Mukdoni], "Sandler has continued to demonstrate that he is a big win for the Yiddish operetta theatre. He also has shown with the operetta, that he makes progress. For each scene he has adapted the right music, the right melody. The scenes, which are performed on the stage, were connected together with music, like a body with a soul, a special compliment comes to Sandler for the beautiful choral scenes. Among the beautiful things from the operetta were the dance and singing of the chorus, and the beauty comes mainly from the music, in which Sandler fit into the dance" [Hillel Rogoff]. "Sandler's music is youthful and elegant. It is characterized by its brilliance and purity.... It is a great opfrishung in the heavy, serious atmosphere of the melodrama, especially for its first time. ... Sandler's music is a trick of knal-effects. It seeks to affect with a natural cadence and with a pure rhythm, which is at times like the strong turbulence of a waterfall, and at times like the light noise of a field creek" [L. Kesner].

Ending the season on 30 March 1926 with the production of Isidore Lesh's operetta, "Vlodka in Odessa," with S.'s music. B. I. Goldstein writes about the music: "The music to create comes easily to the composer. It creates the impression that Sandler hasn't a strong spirit in "Vlodka," but still there came out a pearl-like thing. Such Yiddish, authentic Yiddish songs that we have already heard for a long time. And when you listen for a season with so many foreign motifs, with so many tsekaletsheter grand opera, you must feel very good and very contented when it is presented to you as such, which you have waited for, in vain, for a long time."

For the 1926-27 season the troupe went over from the National Theatre to Brooklyn's Liberty Theatre, and there on 22 September 1926 staged through Aaron Lebedeff Louis Freiman's operetta, "Siomka Becomes a Groom," music by S., and this was his last musical creation.

On 7 October 1926 S. became ill, and two days later, on 9 October 1926, he passed away, and he was laid to rest in the cemetery of the Yiddish Theatrical Alliance [at Mt. Hebron Cemetery, Flushing--ed.], New York.

Joseph Rumshinsky characterized S.'s music as such: "His music is light, ingenious and given with wine and love.... When he was excited for a certain scene, or with a certain idea, you felt like it gist up for his music freshness and sweetness."

Julius Adler writes: "The name 'Kavkaz," "Japan, "Palestine," one after the other show what love Peretz has for the Orient. That the Oriental music has in it Japanese specifically, by whence he actually came to America. ...The musical, oriental melodies spring from him appear as if from a fountain--and how much music finds itself in a play, must be more than even  so much oysshneydn--because of greatness--he has written so much."

B. Botwinick characterized him as a man: "He was an exceptionally dear friend. He was a sage. There are talents out there, who are just not great sages. Sandler was a true sage, a sharp thinker, a humorist with a warm cheer for everything, who has been and amusing in life."

Under any conditions S.'s came out to work in America, and about his future plans, we learn from a letter that he had written some days before his death to his friend, the composer Yitschok Schlossberg in Warsaw: "...I have enough of the greatest things that a musician has known here in the abyss of the Jewish ghetto. I have a name in the English quarter, but I would have given everything to be in that time now, when we used to see ourselves, talk and fantasize. It is not good that people sell their soul in order to make a life. It weighs on oneself for a year, a responsibility to produce a killer work. You don't bring forth your intellectual work and say: I am finished, come let us see what has come out. But people say to you: Iron out your thoughts, your brain, and it must be ready in the one... the time. So, how can a person do it? True, I do it, but not willingly. I want, more than anything, to give later often and away [?]--where black pepper grows--however, this ameritshke in itself a magnet and not let--it was not good for me--the entire world is not good for someone such as me--believe me, I am often jealous of an artisan--but I can not help it. I have now finished an operetta and should be thinking about a second--and by me it is still so, that I cannot borrow--but vilndik or not vilndik caught up once entered a [strange] cadence. When the great Wagner needed to create, he also wanted not to be able to help himself. Here we are angels, but it is, after all, not a living. One hopes that a few dollars is coming to him, and give a shpey un avek to Russia. I can no longer. I will be happy with how much it is not--but not to sell my living brain."

Jacob Mestel, who often used to meet with S., with whom he had a sister-in-law, said: "The last week before his death, S. used to, for hours long, adjourn n the sofa with his eyes closed, rubbing with both hands the stars and mukh, lamenting: "My dear Mestel, we are not artists, but mark-kvertsher, factory liferantn. I will not endure." S., at the time, needed to prepare one operetta, then a second. He passed away from a blood shturts of the brain. There is no doubt that the "hurry-up" had shortened the days of one of our finest musicians."

S. left an unfinished operetta ("Der tovarishtsh [The Comrade?]"--libretto by Julius Adler.)

M. E. from his wife Esther Neroslavska.

  • Hillel Rogoff-- "Amol in may," "Forverts," N. Y., 7 May 1920.

  • Ts. H. Rubinstein-- "Di rumenishe khasene," "Tog," N. Y., 14 Sept. 1923.

  • Hillel Rogoff-- "Di rumenishe khasene"-- an opereta in neshonal teater, "Forverts," N. Y., 21 Sept. 1923.

  • Altn bakanten-- "Di rumenishe khasene," "Frayhayt," N. Y., 21 Sep. 1923.

  • Israel der yenki [I. Friedman]-- "Di rumenishe khasene," "Yidishe tagenblat," N. Y., 21 Sept. 1923.

  • Dr. A. Mukdoni-- Der guter sof, "Morning Journal," N. Y., 28 September 1923.

  • L. Kesner-- "Vigr" operete mit a rumensishn tempo, "Yidishe tagenblatt," N. Y., 19 Oct. 1923.

  • Alef-Alef [A. Auerbach]-- Der triumf fun a kinstler in an opereta, "Morning Journal," N. Y., 25 January 1924.

  • Israel der yenki-- "Dem taten's zindel," "Yidishe tagenblat," N. Y., 25 January 1924.

  • B. I. Goldstein-- Tsvey komedies, "Der tog," N. Y., 25 January 1924.

  • Hillel Rogoff-- "Dem taten's zundl," di naye operete in neshonel theater, "Forverts," N. Y., 8 Feb. 1924.

  • Dr. A. Mukdoni-- Mendel in yapan, "Morning Journal," N. Y., 4 April 1924.

  • B. I. Goldstein-- In yidishen un englishen teater, "Tog," N. Y., 4 April 1924.

  • Israel der yenki-- "Mendel in yapan" in neshonel, "Yidishe tagenblatt," N. Y., 2 April 1924.

  • Ab. Cahan-- Theater notitsen, "Forverts," N. Y., 8 April 1924.

  • L-t [Liliput]-- Yapanezishe gezang in a yidisher oysteytshung, "Frayhayt," N. Y., 11 April 1924.

  • Israel der yenki-- "Kavkazer libe," "Yidishe tagenblatt," N. Y., 17 Oct. 1924.

  • R. Levin-- "Kavkazer libe," "Tog," N. Y., 17 October 1924.

  • N. Buchwald-- Sekond-evenyu operete "Frayhayt", N. Y., 17 Oct. 1924.

  • B. I. Goldstein-- "A khasene in palestine," "Tog," N. Y., 18 April 1925.

  • Ab. Cahan-- Di naye muzikalishe komedye in neshonal teater, "Forverts," N. Y., 1 May 1925.

  • Dr. A. Mukdoni-- "A la brodvay," "Morning Journal," N. Y., 20 Nov. 1925.

  • B. I. Goldstein-- "Artists end models," "Tog," N. Y., 20 Nov. 1925.

  • L. Kesner-- "Di models fun libe," "Yidishe tagenblatt," N. Y., 20 Nov. 1925.

  • Hillel Rogoff-- Sandler's naye opereta in neshonel teater, "Forverts," N. Y., 27 Nov. 1925.

  • B. I. Goldstein-- "Volodke in odes" in neshonal teater, "Tog," N. Y., 9 April 1926.

  • L. Kesner-- "Volodke in odes," "Yidishe tagenblatt," N. Y., 9 April 1926.

  • Dr. A. Mukdoni-- In un aroys teater, "Morning Journal," N. Y., 9 April 1926.

  • Ab. Cahan-- Theater notitsen, "Forverts," N. Y., 28 Sept. 1926.

  • L. S. Bieli-- "Siomke vert a khosn," "Yidishe tagenblatt," N. Y., 29 Sept. 1926.

  • Joseph Rumshinsky-- "Vegen dem geshtrobenem muziker peretz sandler, "Forverts," 12 Oct. 1926, "Rumshinsky-bukh," N. Y., 1930.

  • Dr. A. Mukdoni-- In un arum teater, "Morning Journal," N. Y., 15 Oct. 1926.

  • Jacob Kirschenbaum-- A trer un a blut oyf dem kaver fun peretz sandler, "Der amerikaner," N. Y., 15 Oct. 1926.

  • [--]-- Stsenes un bilder fun peretz sandler's loyh, "Forverts," N. Y., 15 Oct. 1926.

  • Sholem Perlmutter-- Peretz sandler, "Yidishe tagenblatt," N. Y., 17 October 1926.

  • [Peretz Sandler]-- Dizen interesanten brif hot sandler geshribn far zayn toit, "Forverts," 22 Oct. 1926.

  • A. Frumkin-- Di letste klangen fun peretz sandler's muzik, "Tob," N. Y., 13 Oct. 1926.

  • B. Botwinick-- In der teater-velt, "Der veker," N. Y., 23 Oct. 1926.

  • Spetsieler numer fun zhurnal "Der teater-shtern," N. Y., 3, 1926, mit artiklen fun kh. gudelman, b. varshavski, israel rozenberg un anshel shor.

  • Pesakh Kaplan-- Europeyishe muzik in yidish, "Nayer leben," Bialystok, 29 Oct. 5; 12 Nov. 1926.

  • M. Kipnis-- Peretz sandler, "Haynt," Warsaw, 8, Nov. 1926.

  • Julius Adler-- A por verter oyf sandlers matzeva, "Vilner tog," 19 Nov. 1926.

  • Shmuel Rozhansky-- Di derefenungs-forshtelungen in teater "Argentine," "Dorfishe libe," muzik fun peretz sandler, oyfgefirt unter der leytung fun mordekhai hokhberg, "Yidishe tsaytung," Buenos Aires, 5 March 1929.

  • Dr. A. Mukdoni-- Zikhronus fun a yidishn teater-kritiker, "Arkhiv," Vilna, 1930, pp. 411-12.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 2, page 1446.

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