Max Helfman - сomposer, choral conductor, and educator. Was born at 25 May 1901 in Radzyn Podlaski (Russian Empire; now Poland), where his father was a local teacher and cantor in whose choir he sang as a child. Emigrated in America in 1909. Studied at the Rabbi Jacob Joseph Yeshiva School on New York's Lower East Side and soon became a sought-after boy alto in New York orthodox synagogue choirs. Graduated of the David Mannes Music College, Helfman was offered a position as organist and choirmaster at Temple Israel in uptown Manhattan, succeeding the learned conductor and composer Zavel Zilberts. He had no organ training, but he quickly acquired that skill through private lessons. At that time he began his long association with the temple's cantor, David Putterman, for whom he began composing and arranging special settings. When in 1926 Putterman became the cantor of the Park Avenue Synagogue, Helfman accepted a position as choir director at Temple Emanuel in Paterson, New Jersey, where he organized an amateur choir that eventually grew into a respected and well-known concert chorus in addition to a liturgical choir for services. He held that post until 1939. In 1929-1931 Helfman also learned at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, where he studied piano with Ralph Leopold, composition with Rosario Scalero, and conducting with Fritz Reiner. In 1940-1953 he served at the Temple B'nai Abraham in Newark, New Jersey, where he found it fulfilling to work with Abraham Shapiro. He also was the conductor of Bach-Handel Society in Westfield, New Jersey (1939-1943) and the Peoples Philharmonic Chorus (1937-1949). Helfman was music director at the Brandeis Youth Foundation (1944-1961), and Temple Sinai in Los Angeles, California (1954-1957). He was on the faculty of the Hebrew Union College and the School of Sacred Music in New York (1949-1952), and music director at both the Hillel Foundation at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), USC (1954-1959) and the Hebrew Congregation in Washington DC (1958-1962). He also founded the Dean College of Fine Arts and the University of Judaism in 1961. His works include Israeli folk melodies, sacred choral compositions, secular vocal music for solo and chorus, preludes for organ, a violin sonata, chamber music, ballet music and song arrangements. Helfman’s Friday evening service, Shabbat Kodesh (1942), is considered his most successful and enduring liturgical work. In 1957 he became the member of ASCAP. Max Helfman died at 9 September 1963 in Dallas, Texas.
Collectors Guild CG 635
Musique Internationale MS-7312-A
Vanguard AN 69-46 B
Warsaw Lament (
Kalman Friedman - Adolph Mann
Musique Internationale M-7339-B