Discipline: Music Composition

Modest Altschuler

Discipline: Music Composition
MacDowell Fellowships: 1944
Modest (Moisei Isaacovich) Altschuler (1873-1963) was a cellist, conductor, and composer. He was born in Mogilev, then part of the Russian Empire, now in Belarus, into a Jewish family. He studied at the Moscow Conservatory and immigrated to the United States in 1893. In 1903 Altschuler organized the Russian Symphony Orchestra Society of New York City, which for two decades toured the United States featuring performances and compositions by leading contemporary Russians. Among the Orchestra's notable premieres were Sergei Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 1 in D-flat major, Op. 10, which was performed at Carnegie Hall in New York on December 10, 1918 and Modest Mussorgsky's Prelude to Khovanshchina, which Altschuler presented at Carnegie Hall on February 25, 1905. Despite his rigorous classical training, Altschuler was not averse to modernist experimentation. The Symphony's March 1915 New York premiere of Alexander Scriabin's Promethee: Le Poeme de Feu (Prometheus: The Poem of Fire) with Marguerite Volavy as pianist, featured a newly invented device, the chromola, which rendered musical tones in color.



Modest Altschuler worked in the Watson studio.

Built in 1916 in memory of Regina Watson of Chicago, a musician and teacher, this studio was donated by a group of her friends, along with funds for its maintenance. Originally designed to serve as a composers’ studio with room for performance, Watson was used as a recital hall for chamber music for a…

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