Yuval, Jewish Society of Music and Theatre Lovers in Przemysl
One of the institutions for the dissemination of culture, music and Jewish theatre arts, whose influence extended beyond the borders of the town, was the Yuval society. It attracted all the Jewish intelligenzia in town, as well as popular strata of all kinds Zionists, Yiddishists and even assimilated Jews who were affiliated with the Polish Socialist Party (P.P.S). The purpose of the society was to impart to the youth a culture of music, with an emphasis on Jewish music, as well as to distribute the art of Jewish and general theatre by means of presenting Jewish plays and poetry evenings where Jewish poets' works were read.
The society also acted as impresario, and coordinated visiting theatre troupes, such as Habima and Ohel from Eretz Yisrael, and HaWilner Truppe, which performed their famous plays for the Jewish audience.
The society was formed in 1919, the first general meeting was held on September 13, 1919, and the first chairman to be elected was the attorney Dr. Joseph Axer (who died in Tel Aviv in 1957). The society operated until 1937, at which point most of the activists left the town and some immigrated to Israel. The activists of Yuval included Dr. Benjamin Weintraub (now an attorney in Haifa), Leon Goldfarb the secretary and moving spirit of the society, poet Rachel Korn, Dr. Maurycy Eisner, Dr. Leib Landau, Joseph Strudler, Jack Spiegel, Dr. Ekiert, Genia Bien. The society had two sections: the music section, led by musician Joseph Neger, and the theatrical arts section, led by Dr. Joseph Axer.
The music section operated a music school, where the youth acquired musical knowledge. The orchestra and choir belonging to the society performed at public concerts and recitals of a very high standard. Among the outstanding performers in the section were pianists Johanna Axer and Rina Axer, female singers Mildorf and Berger, male singers Felsen and Orenstein, violinists Eng. Schlisselberg (now at Mekorot, Tel Aviv), Rosenberg and Goldberg.
The section gave a very successful performance, by its own means, of the musical play Druciarz, Der Rastelbinder, conducted by Dr. Joseph Axer. The concert was performed several times in the town and beyond it, in nearby Jaroslaw and Rzeszow. In December of 1924, Yuval hosted a conference of Jewish societies for singing and music, and the representative of Yuval was chosen as assistant chairman for the League of Societies for Singing in Galicia. In honor of the conference, an evening of Jewish song was held, conducted by Joseph Neger, and lectures were delivered on Jewish song and music.
Alfred Plon, the music critic of the newspaper Chwila and chairman of the league of societies, wrote in his report on the conference: The 'Yuval' Society performs its duties excellently and occupies a respectable position among the Jewish musical societies which operate in Malopolska (Galicia) (Chwila, December 19, 1924).
Sitting from left: Ekiert, Dr. Eisner, Spiegel, Goldfarb
The theatrical arts section reached valuable accomplishments. Among the more notable plays they performed was S. Anski's The Dybbuk, directed by the head of the community, Dr. Leib Landau, who also played the part of the Rabbi from
Among the plays preformed in Yiddish, the following are worthy of mention: Der Stiemer, by Pinski, directed by Dr. Leib Landau; Gogol's The Inspector General; and a number of plays by A. Goldfadden. The section also performed plays in Polish. The most well-known among them was Dr. Stieglitz, directed by Dr. Axer, which had the longest run of any play in Przemysl and the surrounding area.
The plays sometimes included guest professional actors, such as Ignacy Berski from the theatre in Krakow. Among the amateur actors we find the ladies: Johanna Axer, Roberta Schutzman, Anda Weintraub, Olga Grossfeld, Ida Stegman, Genia Pillersdorf, Tosia Cohen, Blanka Pillersdorf, Klara Aleksandrowicz-Gottfried, and the gentlemen: Julian Goldfarb, Paltiel Brannka, Joseph Strudler, Dr. A. Margalit, Eliyahu Pillersdorf, Norbert Briefer, Wilhelm Tuchman, Joseph Weissman, Fabian Bienenstock (now in the Israeli Police), Beno Freifeld, Shlomo Nussbaum.
The plays performed included H. Berger's The Deluge, Schnitzler's The Lovers, and Hennequin's Florette and Patapon.
Jew[ish] Society of Music and Theatre Lovers Juwal
Saturday, December 12, 1925
The Dom Robotniczy [The Workers' House] Hall
FLORETTE AND PATAPON
a farse in 3 acts by M. Hennequin, more than 60 performances in the Krakow Bagatela
The Esther Rachel Kaminska Society for Theatrical Arts
The grand tradition of Yuval which fell apart, was renewed by the establishment of a new society in 1937, directed by Dr. B. Ekiert and later by Dr. Adolf Krys. This society was in existence until the destruction, and managed to do its part in rejuvenating the Jewish theatrical culture in the town. Its activists included Klemens Silber, a music teacher who composed a musical play, Shadchenes Manover, which was performed successfully by an amateur group, directed and conducted by him. The well-known actor Joseph Kamen participated in one of the plays as a guest actor.
From among the activists, we should mention Metzger and Member.
Canzonetta Music Club
A group of youth, initiated by Klemens Cohen (later a doctor at the Jewish hospital) organized and operated a music club, during the period following World War One. Over the course of time, a mandolin orchestra was established, which reached great acclaim and was very successful due to its perseverance and efforts. After a short time they even dared to give public concerts, and were positively reviewed. The club contributed significantly to disseminating music among the gimnazjum students and graduates.
The Canzonetta also toured in the towns of Drohobycz, Stary, Truskawiec, and Skole, and the concerts, directed by Klemens Cohen, were extremely successful. Among the young activists we should mention Yitzhak Licht, the club chairman, A. Brodner (now a doctor in Tel Aviv), Joseph Reben, Bronek Torba.
Social Institutes in the Town
In 1934 the club moved to its new residence in Mickiewicza Street, to an apartment which was the Court of the Admor from Sedigura. The club was grandly outfitted. It included a library, halls for lectures and banquets, and more. The club left its stamp on the Jewish social life in town. Dr. Michael Schwartz and Dr. Joseph Axer were the club presidents. A prominent activist in the club was Mr. Shmuel Rebhan.
The sisterhood which operated in Humanist engaged in social work, collecting clothing for the needy, helping the Noar Halomed. Among the activists were Ms. Lidia Teich and Ms. Johanna Axer. The chamber was dramatically closed in 1939 by the Polish authorities. At midnight, a song evening was still going on in the chamber, the Swan Song, and at three AM the police showed up with the closing order.
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