top of page


Friedrich Gernsheim(1839-1916) came from a respected Worms family of doctors. At the age of 10 he appeared in Frankfurt as a pianist and violinist. 1850  an overture he had written was premiered in the Frankfurt City Theater.  He studied at the Leipzig Conservatory and later in Paris, where he came into contact with well-known composers such as Camille Saint-Saens, Gioacchino Rossini and Franz Liszt. At first he was conductor of the choir and symphony orchestra in Saarbrücken, in 1865 he was appointed to the Cologne Conservatory, where he taught, among others, the future composer Engelbert Humperdinck. In  Cologne he also worked as director of the Municipal Choral Society and chief conductor of the Municipal Orchestra until he accepted a call to director of the Society for the Promotion of Music in Rotterdam in 1874. From there he went to Berlin in 1890 and became a teacher at the Stern Conservatory, later a member of the Senate of the Academy of Arts and head of a master class for composition. Throughout his life he was very active as a pianist and guest conductor, including several times with the traditional Meininger Hofkapelle.

Friedrich Gernsheim was friends with the composers Johannes Brahms and Max Bruch, among others. As a musical personality, he was highly valued during his lifetime. The city of Dortmund, for example, held a two-day Gernsheim festival in 1914 to mark his 75th birthday.

Friedrich Gernsheim
Karl Goldmark

Karl Goldmark(1830-1915) was the son of a Hungarian Jewish cantor and grew up in poor circumstances. Since he received only a fragmentary musical education in his childhood, he also educated himself  autodidactic. He initially worked as an orchestra violinist in Hungary and Austria. As a piano teacher, he taught, among others, Ludwig Barnay, later a well-known actor and theater director, who was also an honorary member of the Meiningen Court Theater. At the age of 27, Goldmark presented his own compositions to the public. Two years later, the Neue Wiener Musikzeitung judged that he seemed destined to “take a glorious step in the field of musical art”.In 1865 he achieved his international breakthrough with his overture "Sakuntula", which was premiered by the Vienna Philharmonic. His first opera “The Queen of Sheba” made him famous. It premiered in 1875 at the Vienna Court Opera. On his 70th and 80th birthdays, Goldmark was honored with celebrations in Vienna and Budapest, among other places. In 1910 he received an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Budapest, in 1914 he became an honorary member of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome and in 1915 of the Imperial and Royal Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna.

The nameSalomon Jadassohn(1831-1902) is associated with a broad reform movement within Judaism in the 19th century. It started in Germany and spread from there all over the world. So-called liberal Jews were looking for ways to live out their faith in non-Jewish society in a contemporary and cosmopolitan way. They therefore also reformed synagogue worship. Organs were installed in some synagogues, which devout Jews viewed with suspicion because they considered it “too Christian”. Reformed communities also introduced polyphonic mixed choral singing.  In some large cities, listening to synagogue music on the Sabbath was also an event for non-Jews.

​ Salomon Jadassohn also created works for this new type of Jewish liturgy. He came from Breslau, studied in Weimar with Franz Liszt, among other places, and in 1865 became the choirmaster of the Gottschedstrasse reform synagogue in Leipzig. As a teacher of piano and composition at the Leipzig Conservatory, he enjoyed a high reputation. He conducted the Bremen Opera Orchestra and was appointed royal professor in 1873.  Jadassohn wrote not only organ and choral works, but also chamber music, compositions for piano, symphonies and other orchestral works. He was also successful as a pianist and wrote important treatises on music theory. Some of his compositions have been performed in the Leipzig Gewandhaus and by the traditional Leipzig Thomanerchor.

Salomon Jadassohn
bottom of page