Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Abraham Ellstein


Born on 7 July 1907 in New York, America. His father was a bookbinder. He learned in a cheder, in public school and finished high school.

From age six until thirteen he sang with cantors, then with Yosele Rosenblatt, with Herman Wohl as a conductor, while at the same time singing in a children's chorus in the Metropolitan Opera.

At the age of ten, he received a stipend to begin learning music with the American composer Frederick Jacobi. In 1925 he won the prize from the "Julliard Foundation" and studied afterwards with Reuben Goldmark.

Losing his children's voice, E. became a conductor in a small synagogue, then accompanied cantors during their performances on the Estrada, also later the actors Molly Picon, Ludwig Satz and Aaron Lebedeff.

He debuted as a composer with music to Eppelbaum's play "Gerangl (Struggle)" (12 October 1928, staged by the "Vilna Troupe" in "intimate [intimeyd] theatre"), writing the music to Beinish Steiman's "Baym toyer (At the Gate)" (staged on 16 December 1928 by "Artef"), and for M. Elkin's "Bum un dreydl".

For the 1929-30 season, E. became engaged in Satz's Folks Theatre as a composer and orchestra conductor, and here staged


with his music on 14 October 1929 Sheyne Rukhl Simkoff's musical comedy "Zayn vaybs lubovnik (His Wife's Lover)", and on 20 December 1929 Nakhum Stutchkoff's Chasidic operetta "Az der rebe vil (When the Rabbi Wants)." In the summer of 1930, E. went as a composer-orchestra conductor with Dave Lubritsky and Dina Goldberg to Europe.

For the 1930-31 season, E. was engaged as a composer-orchestra conductor in the Public Theatre, where there was staged with his music: in October 1930 (NY Times: 23 September -ed.) Israel Rosenberg's comedy "Der berditshever khosn (The Bridegroom from Berdichev)"; On 21 October 1930 Isidore Lillian's comedy "Der trombenik"; and on 26 November 1930 Boris Thomashefsky's operetta "Eretz-yisrael (The Land of Israel)". Soon thereafter, E. toured as a composer-orchestra director with Molly Picon on her tour across Europe and South America. Here he wrote new music to Goldfaden-Kalich's operetta "Shmendrik", and to H. Kalmanowitz-Rumshinsky's operetta "Oy iz dos a meydl (O, What a Girl)", as well as many new numbers to the operettas "Dos tsirkus-meydl (The Circus Girl)" by [R. and M.] Shomer-Rumshinsky, "Molly Dolly" by Anshel Schorr-Rumshinsky, and "Hello Molly", by Sheyne Rukhl Simkoff-Rumshinsky.

E. also wrote a Chasidic musical kl-bu, which was staged in Argentina.

 M. E.

  • William Edlin -- Di naye piese in zats's folks teater, "Tog", N. Y., 18 October 1929.

  • L. Fogelman -- Zayn vayb's lubovnik in zats's teater, "Forward", N. Y., 24 October 1929.

  • M. Shmsh -- Zayn vayb's lubovnik in zats's folks teater, "Di idishe beker tsaytung", N. Y., 25 October 1929.

  • A. Frumkin -- "Zayn lubovnik's veyb", "Brookliner idishe shtime", N. Y., N' 21, 1929.

  • B. Y. Goldstein -- Oyf der teater evenyu, "Fraye arbayter shtime", N. Y., 15 November 1929.

  • Khayim Weiner -- Ludvig zats in a nayer piese, "Der farbund", N' 60, 1929.

  • M. Shmsh -- "Az der rebe vil", "Di idishe bekers shtime", N. Y., 27 December 1929.

  • William Edlin -- Ludvig zats in a nayer gerotener operete, "Tog", N. Y., 3 January 1930.

  • D. Kaplan -- "Az der rebbe vil", naye khsidishe operete in zats's foks teater, "Forward", N. Y., 3 January 1930.

  • B. Y. Goldstein -- Oyf der teater evenyu, "Fraye arbayter shtime", N. Y., 10 January 1930.

  • William Edlin -- Tsvey opereten in a drame, "Tog", N. Y., 10 October 1930.

  • Jacob Kirschenbaum -- Boris tomashefski's "eretz israel" oyf der bine in nyu-york, "Keneder odler", Montreal, 29 December 1930.

  • T. Beilin -- Notitsn un bamerkungen, "Di prese", Buenos Aires, 15 July 1932.

  • Shmuel Glazerman -- Di role funm muzik-dirizhor in unzer idishen teater, "Di idishe tsaytung", Buenos Aires, 27 July 1932.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 2, page 1576.

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