May 23rd, 2011 § Leave a Comment
My latest music acquisition is the Sonata for Flute and Piano by Beryl Rubinstein (1898 – 1952). I have only a passing knowledge of this work. I have never heard it performed live and have heard it only on Jeffery Khaner’s American music recoring. I became interested in the work after learning that Rubinstein can be considered a composer from the American south, which is one of my research interests. He was born in Athens, Georgia, but ended up travelling quite extensively due to opportunities afforded him by his talent as a pianist. He performed in New York City as a teenager and then studied in Germany.
His biggest legacy may be his connection to the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he taught beginning in 1921. He became director of the school in 1932. After a short stint with the U.S. Army during World War II, he returned to Cleveland and expanded the Institute considerably.
While his connection to Athens may seem tangential at best, he did travel back to his hometown shortly before his death in 1952. He was a contemporary of Hugh Hodgson (who was involved with establishing the music department at the University of Georgia in 1928) and gave a recital during his return visit to Athens, which included his own works for piano. (His piano works are perhaps the most commonly-known portion of his oeuvre.)
Another Georgia connection is between Rubinstein and the famed conductor Robert Shaw. After Rubinstein’s death, Cleveland Institute alum Hale Smith composed a work in his memory. It was recorded by the Kulas Choir and Chamber Orchestra in 1964, under the direction of Robert Shaw. At that time Shaw was associate conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra, but a few short years later he would would take over as music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; he held this position until 1988.
Rubinstein’s sonata is currently out of print. The nice folks at the music library of the Cleveland Institute of Music are happy to make you a copy for a small fee.