Ernest Bloch

Ernest Bloch

Ernest Bloch (July 24, 1880 – July 15, 1959) was a Swiss-born American composer.


Bloch was born in Geneva and began playing the violin at age 9. He began composing soon afterwards. He studied music at the conservatory in Brussels, where his teachers included the celebrated violinist Eugène Ysaÿe. He then travelled around Europe, moving to Germany (where he studied at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt), on to Paris in 1903 and back to Geneva before settling in the United States of America in 1916, taking American citizenship in 1924. He held several teaching appointments in the U.S., with George Antheil, Frederick Jacobi, Bernard Rogers, and Roger Sessions among his pupils. In December 1920 he was appointed the first Musical Director of the newly formed Cleveland Institute of Music, a post he held until 1925. Following this he was director of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music until 1930.

In 1941 Bloch moved to the small coastal community of Agate Beach, Oregon [ Bloch Festival Program] ] and lived there the rest of his life. He died in 1959 in Portland, Oregon, of cancer at the age of 78. The Bloch Memorial has been moved from near his house in Agate Beach to a more prominent location at the Newport Performing Arts Center in Newport, Oregoncite web|url=|title=Ernest Bloch Project] .


Bloch's early works, including his opera "Macbeth" (1910) show the influence of both the Germanic school of Richard Strauss and the impressionism of Claude Debussy. Mature works, including his best-known pieces, often draw on Jewish liturgical and folk music. These works include "Schelomo" (1916) for cello and orchestra, which he dedicated to the cellist Alexandre Barjansky ( Barjansky Stradivarius ) the "Israel Symphony" (1916), "Baal Shem" for violin and piano (1923, later version for violin and orchestra), The "Jewish Life" Suite for Cello and Piano and "Avodath Hakodesh" (Sacred Service, 1933) for baritone, choir and orchestra. Other pieces from this period include a violin concerto written for Joseph Szigeti and the rhapsody "America" for chorus and orchestra.

Leopold Stokowski and the Symphony of the Air made the first stereo recording of "America" for Vanguard Records and included a short speech by Bloch that explained why he wrote the piece; years later, the Seattle Symphony Orchestra recorded the work for Delos.

Pieces written after World War II are a little more varied in style, though Bloch's essentially Romantic idiom remains. Some, such as the "Suite hébraïque" (1950) continue the Jewish theme; others, such as the second concerto grosso (1952), display an interest in neo-classicism (though here too the harmonic language is basically Romantic, even though the form is Baroque); and others, including the late string quartets, include elements of atonality.



Macbeth : Opera in 3 Acts 1909 Geneva-Paris


*Symphony in C-sharp minor 1902
*Hiver-Printemps 1905 Paris-Geneva
*Trois Poèmes Juifs pour Grand Orchestre 1913 Satigny
*Israel : Symphony for Orchestra 1916 Geneva
*In The Night : A Love Poem for Orchestra 1922 Cleveland
*Poems of The Sea for Orchestra 1922 Cleveland
*Concerto Grosso No.1, for String Orchestra with Piano Obbligato 1925 Santa Fe - Cleveland
*Four Episodes for Chamber Orchestra 1926 San Francisco
*Helvetia Symphonic Poem 1929 Frankfurt - San Francisco
*Evocations : Symphonic Suite for Orchestra 1937 Châtel,Haute Savoie
*Suite Symphonique 1944 Agate Beach
*In Memoriam 1952 Agate Beach
*Concerto Grosso No.2 for Strings 1952 Agate Beach
*Sinfonia Breve 1953 Agate Beach
*Symphony in E-flat 1955 Agate Beach


*"Schelomo", Rhapsodie Hébraïque pour Violoncelle solo et Grand Orchestre (1916 Geneva-New York)
*Suite for Viola and Orchestra 1919 New York
*Voice In The Wilderness, Symphonic Poem for Orchestra with Violoncello Obbligato 1936 Châtel,Haute Savoie
*Concerto for Violin and Orchestra 1938 Châtel,Haute Savoie
*Baal Shem for Violin and Orchestra 1939
*Concerto Symphonique for Piano and Orchestra 1948 Agate Beach
*Scherzo Fantasque for Piano and Orchestra 1948 Agate Beach
*Concertino for Flute,Viola and String Orchestra 1950 Agate Beach
*Suite Hébraïque, for Viola (or Violin) and Orchestra 1951 Agate Beach
*Symphony for Trombone and Orchestra 1954 Agate Beach
*Proclamation for Trumpet and Orchestra 1955 Agate Beach
*Suite Modale for Flute & String Orchestra 1956 Agate Beach
*Two Last Poems for Flute Solo and Orchestra 1958 Agate Beach

Vocal/Choral Orchestral

*Historiettes au Crépuseule for Mezzo-soprano and piano 1904 Paris
*Poèmes d'Automne for Mezzo-soprano and Orchestra 1906 Geneva
*Psaume 22 1913 Satigny
*Deux Psaumes pour Soprano et Orchestre
*Précédés d'un Prélude Orchestral 1914 Satigny
*Avodath Hakodesh (Sacred Service) 1933 Roveredo-Ticino
*"America: An Epic Rhapsody", for chorus and orchestra (1926 San Francisco)


*Piano Quintet No. 1 (1923 Cleveland)
*Piano Quintet No. 2 (1957)
*String Quartet
**String Quartet No. 1 (1916 Geneva - New York)
**String Quartet No. 2 (1945 Agate Beach)
**String Quartet No. 3 (1952 Agate Beach)
**String Quartet No. 4 (1953 Agate Beach)
**String Quartet No. 5 (1956 Agate Beach)
**"In The Mountains" (1925 Cleveland)
**"Night" (1925 Cleveland)
**"Paysages" (1925 Cleveland; the first movement "Night" was inspired by Robert J. Flaherty's "Nanook of the North")
**"Prelude" (1925 Cleveland)
**Two Pieces (1938, 1950 Châtel, Haute Savoie - Agate Beach)
*Three Nocturnes, for piano trio (1924 Cleveland)


**Sonata for Violin and Piano No.1 1920 Cleveland
**Baal Shem 1923 Cleveland
**Poème Mystique : Sonata for Violin and Piano No.2 1924 Cleveland
**Nuit Exotique 1924 Cleveland
**Abodah 1929 San Francisco
**Mélodie 1929 San Francisco
**Suite Hébraïque, for Violin and Piano 1951 Agate Beach
**Suite No.1 for Violin solo 1958 Agate Beach
**Suite No.2 for Violin solo 1958 Agate Beach
**Suite for Viola and Piano 1919 New York
**Suite Hébraïque 1951 Agate Beach
**Meditation and Processional 1951 Agate Beach
**Suite for Viola solo (unfinished) 1958 Agate Beach
**Méditation Hébraïque 1924 Cleveland
**From Jewish Life 1925 Cleveland
**Suite No.1 for Violoncello solo 1956 Agate Beach
**Suite No.2 for Violoncello solo 1956 Agate Beach
**Suite No.3 for Violoncello solo 1957 Agate Beach
*Suite Modale for Flute & Piano 1956 Agate Beach


*Ex-voto 1914 Geneva
*In The Night : A Love Poem for Piano 1922 Cleveland
*Poems of The Sea 1922 Cleveland
*Four Circus Pieces 1922 Cleveland
*Danse Sacrée 1923 Cleveland
*Enfantines (Ten piano pieces for children) 1923 Cleveland
*Nirvana : Poem for Piano 1923 Cleveland
*Five Sketches in Sepia 1923 Cleveland
*Sonata for Piano 1935 Châtel,Haute Savoie
*Visions et Prophéties 1936 Châtel,Haute Savoie


*6 Preludes 1949 Agate Beach
*4 Wedding Marches 1950 Agate Beach


Ernest Bloch and his wife Marguerite Schneider had three children: Ivan, Suzanne and Lucienne. Ivan, born in 1905, became an engineer with the Bonneville Power Administration in Portland, Oregon. Suzanne Bloch, born in 1907, was a musician particularly interested in Renaissance music who taught harpsichord, lute and composition at the Juilliard School in New York. Lucienne Bloch, born in 1909, worked as Diego Rivera's chief photographer on the Rockefeller Center mural project, became friends with Rivera's wife, the artist Frieda Kahlo, and took some key photos of Kahlo and the only photographs of Rivera's mural (which was destroyed because Lenin was depicted in it).


The [ Western Jewish History Center] , of the [ Judah L. Magnes Museum] , in Berkeley, California has a small collection of photographs of Ernest Bloch which document his interest in photography.

Many of the photographs Bloch took -- over 6,000 negatives and 2,000 prints -- are in the Ernest Bloch Archive at the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona in Tucson along with photographs by the likes of Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and Richard Avedon. []


* [ "Ernest Bloch: Composer in Nature's University"] by Nancy Steinberg. Oregon Coastal Council for the Arts. July, 2006

Bloch's photography was discovered by Eric B. Johnson in 1970. Johnson researched, edited and printed many of Bloch's photographs. 40 of these prints from Bloch's negatives are now in the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson AZ along with the entire collection of his negatives and prints. Johnson is currently Professor of Art and Design at Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo Ca. An account of his discovery can be found on his website.

"Voices in the Wilderness: Six American Neo-Romantic Composers," by Walter Simmons. (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2004) ISBN 0-8108-5728-6

Notes and references

External links

* [ Art of the States: Ernest Bloch]
* [ Extensive discography (and work list), by Claude Torres]
* [ Ernest Bloch's maximum card from Israel]

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  • Ernest Bloch — noun United States composer (born in Switzerland) who composed symphonies and chamber music and choral music and a piano sonata and an opera (1880 1959) • Syn: ↑Bloch • Instance Hypernyms: ↑composer …   Useful english dictionary

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  • BLOCH, ERNEST — (1880–1959), composer. Bloch, who was born in Geneva, revealed his musical gifts as a child and was only ten when he wrote down a vow that he would become a composer and then, in ritual fashion, burned the inscribed paper over a mound of stones.… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Bloch — Bloch, Conrad E. Bloch, Ernest Bloch, Ernst Bloch, Felix Bloch, Marc * * * (as used in expressions) Bloch, Ernest Bloch, Felix Bloch, Marc (Léopold Benjamin) Marcel Bloch …   Enciclopedia Universal

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