Hugo Weisgall was born on October 13, 1912, in Eibenschutz,
Moravia (now Ivancice, Bohemia). At the age of eight, Weisgall immigrated
to the United States with his family. He studied at the Peabody Institute
in Baltimore, Maryland and at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania. Later, Weisgall earned a Ph.D. in German literature at
Johns Hopkins University. During World
War II, Weisgall was assigned
to General S. Patton as an assistant military attache. From 1949 to
1951, Weisgall was the director of the Baltimore Institute of Musical
Arts. He later became a professor at Queens College, the Julliard School,
and the Jewish Theological Seminary, all located in New York City. In
1952, he founded the Hill Top Opera Company.
Weisgall was raised in a family of several generations
of cantors. Throughout his life, he would maintain an interest in both
sacred and secular Jewish music. In 1992, Weisgall was appointed by
the Friends of the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary to compose
a song cycle, Psalm of the Instant Dove, commemorating the 500th
anniversary of the expulsion
of the Jews from Spain.
Weisgall is best known as a composer for opera and
vocal music; although he has also composed ballets, chamber music, and
choral works. Among his most famous works is his most elaborate opera, Athaliah, and his very popular opera, Six Characters in Search
of an Author.
In 1955, he was awarded the Columbia University William
Schuman Award. Weisgall died on March 11, 1997, in New York City.
Sources: “Hugo Weisgall (1912 - 1997).” American
Jewish Historical Society, American
Jewish Desk Reference, (NY: Random
House, 1999). pg. 422-3, The Milken Archive of American Jewish Music, Wikipedia