Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Illya (Simon) Trilling


T. was born on 2 May 1895 in Elberfeld by the Rhine, Germany. His parents were the Yiddish actors Herman Berman and Miriam Trilling, with whom T. wandered across Europe. He completed a six-class folkshul in France.

In 1910 he returned to Warsaw and began to learn music, for which he had a special soul. In 1914 he enrolled in a course for piano and composition in Petersburg's Imperial Conservatory, but he became disturbed because of the outbreak of war. In 1915 he left early for the war front as a soldier, then he became a military kapellmeister.

In 1917 due to typhus and tsinga (hunger sickness) he was released temporarily from military service, and he became an assistant conductor with Y. Vinokur in Alexeyev Park in Kiev and soon thereafter conducted in the Yiddish theatre, where for several years he was active in musicals put on by the troupes of Genfer, Sabsey, Kazhdan and Grossman.

Due to this, the fact that he participated in the activity of the operetta troupes, he proved his ability as an actor and debuted in 1920 as "Joffe" in Gordin's "The Yiddish King Lear." Later he was associated with a collective troupe, with whom he traveled across the Soviet Union until Baku. Here he organized a Yiddish collective, which he led and directed. In 1922 he became engaged in Moscow's theatre "Slavianski Bazaar," then he organized a collective again, where he was chairman and Menachem Rubin was the regisseur.


In 1925 he became engaged to the guest-starring Clara Young, wrote he music for Israel Rosenberg's "Berele bosiak" and, together with Rozentur (sp), for Boaz Young's "Sha, sha, der rebbe fort."  In the troupe he also was active as an actor.

In 1927 he traveled to Europe and for a short time acted in the Vienna Yiddish theatre. In 1928-29 he acted with Clara Young in Argentina. In February 1929 he came to America and joined up with the National Theatre as a dance master of the staged operettas.

In 1929-30 he held the same position and also was the chorus master in Chicago's Lawndale Theatre.

In 1930-31 he was the chorus conductor, music arranger and dance master in the Prospect Theatre.

In 1931-32 he held the same position, and he was also an actor in the National Theatre.

In 1932-33 he was in the Second Avenue Theatre.

T.'s brother, Adolf, is a dance master on Broadway in New York.

Sh. E.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 2, page 895.

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