His parents were the Yiddish actors Dina and Yosef
Shayevitsh. He was raised through his stepfather, the
actor Avraham Kurts. For a profession he worked as
a hairdresser. According to Dr. Weichert, he was a
musical auto-didact, However, according to Jonas Turkow
, Sh. accomplished composition and direction, and the
Warsaw Conservatory. Sh. worked in a series of Yiddish
theatres as a conductor and composer.
So he wrote
illustration-music to Lope de Vega's "Shepsn-kval,"
which Ida Kaminska staged in Warsaw's "Novoshtshi"
Theatre, and the music to Tunkeler's musical comedy, "Gost
ganevim," which the "Vilna Troupe" staged in January
Sh. also wrote the music to
Jacob Prager's "Meylekh fraylekh," which was presented
on 2 December 1938 in Lodz and was strongly utilized,
and it was later played in Warsaw, in the "Novoshtshi"
About the writing of the
leader of the play, Dr. M. Weichert writes:
I chose music from Israel
Shayevitsh. He was a theatre child, a son of the artists
Sh. Shayevitsh, and a stepson of actor A. Kurts. He was
a hairdresser as a profession, and he was a musical
auto-didact (!). His music for "Meylekh freylekh"
(Cheerful and Gay) was very melodic and popular, but not
vulgar. Before the finale, he did some hair projects
until something came out right.
...The music in "Meylekh
freylekh" is similar to that in "Kiddush Hashem'"...was
an integral part of the spectacle, appreciating the
effects of a performance in the public, the historian of
the Yiddish theatre -- if one ever finds one -- must
familiarize himself with the vocal and instrumental
music of each performance.
Jonas Turkow characterizes
him this way:
"Israel Shayevitsh was one
of the best and most talented in the Yiddish music
world. He completed the Warsaw Conservatory (composition
and direction), and began writing very much original
B. Kutsher recalls that Sh.
in Warsaw's cinema theatre "Fama," with a Jewish
symphonic orchestra, conducted Beethoven's "Fifth
According to Jonas Turkow,
Sh. fled from the Germans, when they captured Poland in
the East. B. Kutshner portrayed this escape fictionally
in his book, "Geven amol varshe":
"The younger composer Israel
Shayevitsh changes my mind to keep going... I have a
well-known Jew on Nalewki 27. He has several
directors... With him I had a discussion had lunch with
him, early at six in the morning. If you like, both of
us will go. 'And the families? Wives must not run...
Wives and children do nothing..."
They let themselves go, and
it runs through a black kitten and disappears.
"Shayevitsh grabs your hand:
'See? What?,' 'I mean, no, it's not a good sign...
running so hard on your feet.'
Although Kutsher is not a
believer, he cannot worry about this remark. The Nalewki,
where the Jews live, now very quiet out of fear, and
it's still early. They stare at the stubborn glances of
the prickly looks of the Polish struge.
"Fallen should be
strengthened, but Sh.'s steps get weaker, but do a jab
at the sleeve. 'Maybe not go in? Why? ' 'See you then
...' 'Yes, I see, but we must go in. Secondly, whether
he comes alone. In every way, such glances have been
met. Perhaps they mean nothing. The signs are simply
that a Jew still ventures into the street today..."
The Jew declares to them
that the leader will soon arrive, and in an hour the bus
that goes to Sokolow stops. There are leading Jews
there. There was a direct road from Warsaw to Bialystok.
He was wrong. Germans seized the leader and also shot
"'Shot?' 'This is a guest
thing. Whomever it is ... well, decide. People will soon
have to move in the road. Just fear ... hundreds of Jews
have already passed '...'Is it, you know, not sure? '
Anyone who knows' ..."
Sh., indeed, fell by the
hands of the Germans and died with a martyr's death.
Yanni -- Di muzik fun
meylekh freylekh, "Nayer folksblat," Lodz, 30
Jonas Turkow --
"Extinguished Stars," Buenos Aires, 1953, Vol. 1,
B. Kutsher -- "Geven
amol varshe," Paris, 1955, pp. 266, 302, 305, 306.
Michael Weichert -- "Zikhrones,"
Vol. 2, Tel Aviv, 1961, p. 343.