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Grigori Krein

Grigori Krein: Prélude
for clarinet, string quartet and piano (1925)
Julian Krein Paris 1928
Julian Krein
Paris 1928

Grigori Krein, a brother of Alexander Krein, first studied violin and composition at the Moscow Conservatory, before he became a pupil of Max Reger - then one of the most famous German composers - in Leipzig. In 1909 he appeared for the first time as a composer in a concert of the Moscow Society of Contemporary Music Evenings.

In 1913 a chapter of the Society for Jewish Folk Music was founded in Moscow. The brothers Alexander and Grigori Krein were soon among its most important activists, and Grigori directed its choir. A concert of the Society in 1918 featured the premiere of his "Songs without Words" op. 23 - his first attempt to integrate elements of traditional Jewish music in his style. Unlike Joel Engel, who mostly adapted Yiddish folk songs, the brothers Krein were searching for a modern Jewish musical language that primarily used elements of synagogue music but without quoting authentic melodies.

In the 1920s Grigori Krein composed a number of works in Jewish style, for example the 2. Piano Sonata and the Symphonic Poem "Saul and David". Public acclaim was denied Grigori Krein both at home and abroad. From 1926 to 1934 he lived with his highly gifted son Julian in Vienna, Paris and Berlin. After his return to the Soviet Union he still lived a life of obscurity, great hardship and often hunger.

© 01.08.2016 by Jascha Nemtsov. e-mail: