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He introduced America to A Child of our Time

The composer and conductor Jacob Avsholomov died on Thursday, aged 94.

Born in China in 1919, a refugee from Russian revolution, he never matched his father’s success as a composer. But he conducted the Portland Youth Philharmonic for 41 years and will go down in the record books as the man who gave the US premiere of Michael Tippett’s oratorio, A Child of our Time.


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  1. PDX Muso says:

    Mr. A, as everyone called him, trained legions of musicians by keeping the standard of musicianship and citizenship very high. There isn’t a major US orchestra that doesn’t have a graduate of PYP among its ranks. You didn’t miss rehearsal unless you had a very good reason. The poor string section had rehearsals every Saturday, so, no footie, gymnastics or other weekend pursuits for you (and at least one of your parents if you were younger)! When he called you out and you didn’t measure up, his standard phrase was “Not good enough. Take it to your teacher.” He was just as generous with his praise, and made sure there was recognition in the form of scholarships to Aspen or Tanglewood, for example. I was the beneficiary of that and many other opportunities as a result of his tutelage and will always remember him fondly.

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