Bintel Blog

Fannie Bloomfield Zeisler and Dreyfus Collateral

By Benjamin Ivry

  • Print
  • Share Share

The collateral damage of the Dreyfus Affair was far-reaching. The new release from Appian CDs of the complete recordings of elegant British pianist Harold Bauer recalls the most dramatic passage from Bauer’s memoirs, about how the famed Jewish American pianist Fannie Bloomfield Zeisler (1863-1927; born to an Orthodox family in Bielitz, Austrian Silesia), caused a riot in Paris by daring to perform at the height of the Dreyfus controversy. Seen by the xenophobic Gallic audience as a Germanic artist and, even worse, a Jewish one, she dared perform on a Hamburg Steinway piano instead of a French instrument, and was roundly booed. Bloomfield Zeisler was uncowed, as Bauer relates, instead quipping: “Where did the legend arise that French people are polite?”

Born Fannie Blumenfeld, at age 4 she moved to Chicago, where the family name was Americanized to Bloomfield. She returned to Europe to study with the eminent piano pedagogue Theodor Leschetizky, who helped develop her into a fiercely capable virtuoso, a kind of Martha Argerich of her day, if tantalizing surviving piano rolls are any indication. This galvanizing forthrightness was no doubt encouraged by her marriage to Sigmund Zeisler, a landsman from Bielitz and stout-hearted radical lawyer who defended anarchists (at the 1886 Haymarket trials) as well as lecturing on “The Legal and Moral Aspects of Abortion” at a 1910 meeting of the Chicago Gynecological Society!

Listen to a modern day player piano executing one of Fannie Bloomfield Zeisler’s piano rolls below.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: piano, Fannie Bloomfield Zeisler, Dreyfus

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • What do a Southern staple like okra and an Israeli favorite like tahini have in common? New Orleans chef Alon Shaya brings sabra tastes to the Big Easy.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.