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Isadore Freed

Isadore FreedISADORE FREED (1900 – 1960) was born in Brest-Litovsk, Russia, and immigrated with his family to Philadelphia at the age of 3. He studied at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music, where he won a gold medal in piano, and he earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania at age 18. He studied piano with Josef Hofman and composition with Ernest Bloch.

His earliest works include chamber music, a ballet and orchestral compositions. In 1928, Mr. Freed moved to Paris to study composition with Vincent d’Indy and Nadia Boulanger and organ with Maurice Sergeant and Louis Vierne. Upon his return to the United States, he continued to work as a composer, conductor, organist and lecturer and became the music director and organist at Temple Israel in Lawrence, Long Island, a position he held until his death.

Mr. Freed established a prestigious annual Jewish Music Festival that presented compositions by Salamone Rossi and Chasidic, Sephardic, Eastern European and contemporary synagogue music. In 1950, he became professor of music at Hebrew Union College’s School of Sacred Music. He was a beloved and inspiring teacher, and his text Harmonizing the Jewish Modes continues to be used today. His gentle personality, superb musicianship and writings on Jewish music influenced an entire generation of rabbis, cantors and lay people. He wrote: “Synagogue music must be first good music; it must be living music; it must be functional music and it should bear witness to the continuity of Jewish tradition, be it in language, expression, form or style.”

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