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Alexander Krein

Alexander Krein (1883-1951) learned Jewish folk music as a child first hand. His father was a well-known Klezmer musician and folk poet. He played the violin at Jewish weddings and his children had to accompany him on zymbales. All of the seven Krein brothers later became musicians, some of them were even famous, such as the composer Grigori Krein or the violinist David Krein.

Alexander Krejn celebrated his biggest successes in the 1920s as a composer of stage music. In this way the performance of the play "The night in the old market" (after Izchak Leib Peretz) at the Jewish state theatre in Moscow (GOSET) became a triumph for the theatre as well as the composer. Even in Western Europe, where the theatre gave guest performances in 1927, the play was greeted with great enthusiasm.

After Jewish music was banned in the Soviet Union, Krejn, in contrast to Michail Gnesin, adapted to the conditions. His ballet "Laurentsia", in which Krein used Spanish folklore, later achieved great popularity. This ballet has remained in the repertoire of many Russian theatres to this day.

In comparison his most important work, the cantata "Kaddish", could not be performed at all. For decades Krein's score was considered as missing. Only a couple of years ago it was discovered that the score had been saved. The work was then performed in Russia and in the USA.

Autograph by A.Krein
Autograph by A.Krein

© 16.6.2002 by Jascha Nemtsov. e-mail: