Jacob Avshalomov

Jacob Avshalomov was born on March 28, 1919 in Tsingtao, China. After graduating from British and American schools before he was fifteen, Avshalomov worked as a factory supervisor in Tientsin, Shanghai and Peiping for four years. During this period, he was active in many sports and held the fancy-diving championship of North China. Early in 1937 a business assignment to Shanghai brought him into the orbit of his father's musical activities; here he assisted in the preparation of a Chinese Ballet and served an apprenticeship by working on scores and parts of his father's music. Up to that point music had been an avocation; and although these activities were interrupted by the Japanese invasion and a stint in a British volunteer corps, the commitment to music had been made. In December of that year, Avshalomov's mother returned to the United States for repatriation, and with her came her immigrant son, resolved to devote himself to composition. A year in Los Angeles brought a brief but rewarding contact with Ernst Toch. Two years in Oregon, at Reed College, in the Junior Symphony, and in studies with Jacques Gershkovitch, were followed by two years at the Eastman School of Music, where Bernard Rogers was his teacher in composition and orchestration. The end of the war brought an Alice M. Ditson Fellowship in composition, and a post on the music faculty of Columbia University which he held from 1946 to 1954. Jacob Avshalomov died peacefully in his sleep of natural causes on April 25, 2013, in Portland, OR, after several years of gentle decline.