The Arty Semite

For Yo-Yo Ma, Glick Was Worth Hearing

By Benjamin Ivry

  • Print
  • Share Share
courtesy of museevirtuel-virtualmuseum.ca

On June 7, Toronto’s Beth Tikvah Synagogue will host a special concert to honor the tenth Yahrzeit of Canadian composer Srul Irving Glick. Toronto’s Holy Blossom Temple already did the same on April 22, five days after his actual passing a decade ago.

Son of a cantor, Glick (1934-2002) grew up to be a composer of persuasive melodic charm under the guidance of teachers who included the French Jewish composer Darius Milhaud. Some of Glick’s works sound Gallic, such as his Debussy-influenced “Piano Concerto” and a “Sonata for Flute and Piano” which ranks in suavity beside the flute sonata by Milhaud’s friend Francis Poulenc. Glick’s “Suite hébraïque No. 6” is heartfelt without excess sentimentality. Such sensitively measured authenticity is doubtless what drew such distinguished visiting musicians as Pierre Boulez, Yo-Yo Ma and Hermann Scherchen to Glick’s Toronto home years ago.

Canadian pianist Glenn Gould, a fellow Torontan, took an even more sustained interest in Glick’s compositions, as did the Canadian tenor Jon Vickers, who recorded Glick’s songs. So why is Glick less than a household name outside Canada?

Glick created aching melodies at a time when thorny dissonances were in vogue. Works such as Glick’s “Sonata for Oboe and Piano” (1987) appeal to performers precisely because of their charming communicability. His “Divertimento for String Orchestra” displays a wide-open-spaces generosity of spirit, while his Bach-influenced “Serenade and Dance for Violin Solo” is rigorous but lyrical. In the classical music world, a sense of humor can be misprized, and Glick could be slyly witty in instrumental writing and even in his titles, such as “The Old Toronter Klezmer Suite Quintet for piano and strings”.

Glick’s highest acclaim is currently as a liturgical composer, in choral works which could sound more English than his often-French-seeming instrumental works. This stylistic divide may be the most profoundly Canadian aspect of Glick’s creativity in an ever-divided country, both linguistically and culturally. However euphonic Glick’s synagogue compositions may be, he was considerably more than a mere creator of comfortable music for modern worship, or a kind of Jewish answer to Britain’s John Rutter. Glick could plumb tragic depths, as in “i never saw another butterfly,” his song cycle set to children’s poems written in Theresienstadt concentration camp, memorably recorded in 1985 by the Canadian mezzo-soprano Maureen Forrester. A composer of still-to-be-appreciated range, Glick’s delight remains to be fully discovered outside Canada, and this Yahrzeit anniversary would be a fine time to do so.

Listen to Glick’s Suite hébraïque No. 6 played by violinist Jacques Israelievitch and pianist John Greer.

Watch part of Glick’s “The Klezmer’s Wedding” played by a Chinese ensemble in 2008.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Srul Irving Glick, Pierre Boulez, Hermann Scherchen, Francis Poulenc, Glenn Gould, Yo-Yo Ma

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!
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • 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.