Altschuler, Modest, 1873-1963Alternative names
Modest Altschuler (1873-1963) was a Russian cellist, conductor, and composer. Born near Kiev in what is today Belarus, he began studying cello at the Warsaw Conservatory when he was thirteen years old. He later moved to Moscow to study composition with Anton Arensky, harmony with Sergei Taneyev, and cello with Alfred von Glehn. He also studied conducting at the Moscow Conservatory.
Altschuler immigrated to the United States in 1896, and in 1903 formed the Russian Symphony Orchestra of New York. The group was devoted to providing support and performance opportunities for recent Russian émigrés, and to promoting the music of recent Russian composers. Altschuler conducted its premiere performance at Cooper Union Hall in 1904, after which the ensemble expanded and moved uptown to Carnegie Hall.
Altschuler kept the orchestra active for about nineteen years. Its repertoire was mainly Russian, including Altschuler's friend and Moscow classmate, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky, Alexander Glazunov, Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov, and Igor Stravinsky, among others. Some performances were United States premieres, and the orchestra introduced to America such figures as the violinist Mischa Elman, pianist Josef Lhévinne, and the composers Sergei Prokofiev (performing his First Piano Concerto), and Aleksandr Scriabin (who appeared as guest conductor).
Altschuler disbanded the organization in 1922 and moved to Los Angeles, where he wrote film scores, privately taught composition and orchestration, and conducted the Glendale Symphony Orchestra and the WPA Federal Symphony No. 1 of Los Angeles. His students included Charles Haubiel and Roy Harris. Altschuler was the great-uncle of the conductor Leonard Slatkin.
Sources: Slatkin, Leonard. Conducting Business: Unveiling the Mystery Behind the Maestro. Milwaukee: Amadeus, 2012.
"Russian Symphony Orchestra of New York: A Chronological Listing." http://www.stokowski.org/Principal_Musicians_Russian_Symphony_of_NY.htm (Accessed March 22, 2013.)
From the guide to the Modest Altschuler scores, 1903]-1945, (The New York Public Library. Music Division.)
|associatedWith||Arensky, Anton Stepanovich, 1861-1906.||person|
|associatedWith||Cadman, Charles Wakefield, 1881-1946.||person|
|correspondedWith||Koussevitzky, Serge, 1874-1951||person|
|associatedWith||Lucy Prindle Love and Helen Love Scranton||person|
|associatedWith||Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolay, 1844-1908.||person|
|associatedWith||Sapelnikov, Vassily, 1867-1941.||person|
|associatedWith||Scriabin, Aleksandr Nikolayevich, 1872-1915.||person|
|correspondedWith||Slonimsky, Nicolas, 1894-1995||person|
|associatedWith||Swan, Alfred J. (Alfred Julius), 1890-1970.||person|
|associatedWith||Tchaikovsky, Peter Ilich, 1840-1893.||person|
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