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Friedrich Gernsheim

GERNSHEIM, FRIEDRICH (1839–1916), German composer, conductor, and teacher. Born in Worms, of an old Rhineland family, Gernsheim was a child prodigy, both as performer and composer. He taught and conducted at Cologne and Rotterdam, and from 1890 in Berlin. Finally he became director of a master class in composition at the Prussian Academy of Fine Arts. During his early years as conductor he promoted the works of Brahms. His own compositions, which number over a hundred, include piano and chamber works, four symphonies, cantatas, choral compositions, and songs. Their idiom is generally conservative, although innovations appear in his late period. A renewal of interest in Gernsheim's compositions was noticeable in the 1960s, especially in Germany. His attitude to Judaism seems to have been passive although he gave the subtitle Mirjam to his third symphony, op. 54, in which he depicted Miriam's song of triumph at the Red Sea; and he also wrote an Elohenu for cello and orchestra or piano (1882). The greater part of his papers and manuscripts were donated in 1966 to the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem.


K. Holl, Friederich Gernsheim: Leben, Erscheinung und Werk (1928); Grove, Dict; MGG, S.V. (includes bibliography).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.