Bellison, Simeon, 1883-1953

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1883-12-04
Death 1953-05-04

Biographical notes:

Simeon Bellison (1883-1953) was a renowned clarinet player, teacher, and arranger, as well as an accomplished writer, performing through Eastern Europe and in the United States.

Simeon Bellison was born in Moscow in the year 1883. Bellison started studying the clarinet with his father at the age of nine, and shortly after, began to play in the voluntary ensembles his father conducted. In 1894, Bellison began his study with Joseph Friedrich at the Moscow Imperial Academy, which he continued until 1901, graduating with honors and a bachelors degree in music.

In 1902, Bellison played and organized the Moscow Quintet that toured throughout Russia, Poland, and Latvia. He continued with the Moscow Quintet as he began the post of first clarinetist in the St. Petersburg Imperial Opera orchestra. Bellison, in 1918, formed a second ensemble in St. Petersburg named Zimro that toured farther than the first, including in the United States.

Bellison made New York his home in 1920, as first clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, a position he held until 1948. Bellison also opened a clarinet studio in New York, and organized a clarinet ensemble that grew to include seventy-five players; he personally arranged a large library of music for this unique ensemble.

Not only did Bellison arranged and published many solo, ensemble, and chamber pieces in his lifetime, he was known as an authority on Hebrew music, had written many articles, and a novel called “Jivoglot” (Eat ‘em Alive), portraying the life of the poor and obscure musicians in Old Russia.

From the guide to the Simeon Bellison papers, 1910-1953, (L. Tom Perry Special Collections)

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