Biographical: 1910-1919


January 7 1910:  At Lausanne for the sixth subscription concert, he directs the Third Symphony of Albéric Magnard with modified success.

January 8 1910:  Production of his Symphony in C# Minor in its full form by Bernhard Stavenhagen in Geneva.  Big success with the press and the public.

January 13 1910:  At Neuchâtel he again conducts the Third Symphony of Magnard with the Orchestra of Lausanne.

January 17 1910:  Scandal.  He gets a communiqué placed in the newspapers stigmatizing the Committee which refuses him the authority to give a concert in Geneva “so as not to tire the Lausanne Orchestra with this trip”…

January 21 1910:  During the seventh subscription concert at Lausanne, he directs the Prélude à l’Après-midi d’un Faune (Prelude to an Afternoon of a Fawn) by Debussy which is a revelation to music lovers.

February 3 1910: During his last concert at Neuchâtel he accompanies Josef Szigeti in the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra of Mendelssohn.  What a joy to know this young violinist, a friend forever.

February 11 1910: Lausanne:  He gives an “extraordinary” benefit concert.  He chooses a work which is difficult to perform, the Faust Symphony of Liszt which proves a big success with the public:  He is covered with flowers.
It is his farewell concert to the Orchestra of Lausanne.

April 1910:
Albert Carré finally accepts that Lucienne Bréval, of the Paris Opera, come to the Opéra-Comique to interpret Macbeth.

September – November 1910:
Three months of rehearsals for Macbeth in which he participates with the orchestra conductor, Ruhlmann,

November 30 1910:
Production of Macbeth at the Paris Opéra-Comique:  the large majority of the critic is hostile.  Discouraged, he returns to Geneva at the end of December “to lick [his] wounds”.

December 31 1910
Very late appearance of the only critic which could have been able to swing the opinion, from his friend Pierre Lalo, the influential music critic of the newspaper Le Temps (the Times).  Although it is very complimentary, published one month after the première, it arrives too late!  However on the same date a very beautiful letter does his heart good.  Nadia Boulanger writes to him: “ I want to tell you soberly how much I admire your work so true, so profound and so extraordinarily understanding of the great genius who inspired you.”  For Bloch and his daughter Suzanne,  she will become a lifelong friend.



January 1911:  Macbeth is over in full success because Lucienne Bréval breaks her contract.  Back in Geneva for a change of pace he works on the score of Siegfried:  That’s what lifts you up and transports you from petty considerations!

March 1911:  He listens to the Maîtres Chanteurs in Leipzig:  It’s not only Wagner that he finds again, it’s a little himself…

May 1911:  Moving:  he leaves Geneva for the country, the little village of Satigny, not far from Geneva.

June 6 1911:  First meeting with Romain Rolland  in Geneva:  he’s a nice man who looks ill and abused, a bitter mouth and beautiful eyes.  Bloch spoke a lot—too much—about music, critic, Macbeth and especially the Jewish question.

June 17 and 21 1911:  Another production of Macbeth at the Opéra-Comique of Paris; it’s the last showing in France. There is more life, justice, togetherness than at the beginning.  The upcoming production of Macbeth will wait until March 5, 1938 in the Theater San Carlo of Naples in Italian.

July and August 1911:  He feels a blossoming germinating inside himself:  a musical Bible will come and he wants to allow these “secular songs” to sing in him where the whole Jewish soul vibrates.

September 1911:  Beginning of his correspondence with the Italian critic Ildebrando Pizzetti:  it’s a great joy for Bloch  that such an understanding from a man who doesn’t know him; music works wonders.

November 1911:  His class on the Musical Work begin on November 22 at the Geneva Conservatory.  Reading the works of Romain Rolland, Jean-Christophe and the admirable Beethoven gives him the energy to thank the writer for his visit and for his encouragements.  They will become great friends.


April 1912:  Fleg sends him a magnificent adaptation of Psalm 137 for him to put to music.

June 1912:  He is named professor of composition at the Geneva Conservatory.  It isn’t brilliant from the point of view of salary, but it’s better than nothing.
He finishes the Introduction of his second symphony Jewish Festival (it’s the first name given to the symphony Israel).

July August 1912:  He works at a furious pace on his second symphony.

September 14 1912:  His Psalm 114 dedicated to Edmond and Madeleine Fleg is finished, orchestrated, nuanced.

October 20 1912:  He orchestrates the future Prelude to Psalms 114 and 137 (vocal and orchestra version)

November 6 1912:  At the Conservatory of Geneva beginning of the Wednesday Courses consecrated to questions of Musical Esthetics.
He analyzes the most outstanding of the works which will be played at the subscription Concerts of Geneva.

November 11 1912:  Still at the Geneva Conservatory beginning of the “Monday Courses” consecrated to the work of J.S. Bach.

December 1912:  Siegmund Hausegger directs his Symphonic Poem Winter in Berlin.  It’s the first time that one of his works is performed in Germany!



Beginning of January 1913:  Nine day trip to Hungary and Italy:  he returns with a strength and a confidence within that he has never had before.

February 1913:  Fleg suggests to him to put the Jewish ritual to music which he doesn’t achieve until 20 years later with Avodath Hakodesh

Beginning of March 1913:  Business trip to Germany.  He has the good fortune to hear Ariane à  Naxos by Richard Strauss in Berlin.

March 31 1913:  My father dies in Geneva.

April 1913:  He gives five preparatory lectures to the first recital at Geneva of J. S. Bach’s Mass in B (directed by Otto Barblan the 22nd of April 1913).

End of May 1913:  At Vevey he attends  the Festival Saint-Saëns, directed by Gustave Doret.  He won’t say he enjoyed himself…
There he heard mediocre music, played with mediocrity.

End of June 1913:
Festivals of Jaques-Dalcroze at Hellerau:  it blew him away.
He went there as a skeptic, almost as an adversary.  He came back convinced.

August 1913:
He finishes Danse, the first of the Trois Poèmes Juifs and he begins Rite which is the second.

September 1913:
Fleg sends him an adaptation of Psalm 22 for him to put it into music.

October 7 1913:
End of the Trois Poèmes Juifs  with the third part Cortège Funèbre (Funeral Procession

October 22 1913:
His series of 24 lectures on Musical Esthetic starts up for the third year at the Geneva Conservatory.

End of October 1913
Quarrel with my friend Robert Godet.



Beginning of January 1914:

Eight memorable days in Venice:  he returns fresh and “full of music”.  Alas, instead of being able to write it,  here he is reimmersed into the kettle of lectures.

January 23 1914:

At the Lausanne Conservatory:  beginning of lectures on the Evolution of musical taste.

February 28 1914:
He directs the first of the Trois Poèmes Juifs at the Grand Theater of Geneva; the other works on the program of this eighth subscription concert are directed by Stavenhagen.  It is a success for the public but the criticism is divided.

April 16 1914:
End point of Psalm 22, for baritone and orchestra, on the words of Edmond Fleg.  He dedicates this work to his friend Romain Rolland.

End of April 1914:
Business tour to Berlin.  He hears admirable performances of Parsifal, Salomé and Les Noces de Figaro.  He really needed that!  One feels stagnant in Geneva.

May 15 1914:
He finishes the Psalm 137 for soprano and orchestra dedicated to Edmond and Madeleine Fleg.

June 1914:
Candidacy at the Geneva Conservatory for a regular Course of composition, total failure:  Otto Barblan declares that he will resign if I am named.

August 1914:
Declaration of war.  He tries to join the Swiss army but they don’t want him.

September 1914:
Move to Rennex on Genthod which is less onerous than Satigny.

November 1914:
He forces himself to work again on his violin in anticipation of the unknown.
It’s a terrible job at his age, after having abandoned it for 15 years.  But it comes back and he plays quartets with his friends.
His  lectures have few listeners.

November 28 1914:
He directs the Geneva Orchestra with success:  Symphony in B Minor of Boradine, Prélude à l’Après-midi d’un Faune of Debussy and Airs de concert sung by Nina Faliero-Dalcroze.

December 1914:
He goes back to work on composing the Fêtes Juives.  His friend Stavenhagen, head of the Geneva orchestra, dies.  Bloch offers his candidacy for this post.


January 10 1915:
Candidacy for the post of orchestra director of the Subscription Concerts of Geneva.

February 1915:
He struggles in the midst of the worst intrigues.
And his rival is…Ansermet, his old friend and student.

February 20 1915:
He directs in Geneva the second complete hearing of his Symphony in C# Minor.
His concert was a strong success:  great success, excellent impression.
Romain Rolland who attended the rehearsal writes him a fine letter which renews his courage.

March 1915:
He finishes and orchestrates the beginning of his new Symphony Fêtes Juives.
He read and reread the work of Romain Rolland, Jean-Christophe, from which he gets new strength.

End of May 1915:
He finishes the first part of his new Symphony which Romain Rolland is encouraging him to call Israël.

June 1915:
The post of head of the orchestra at Geneva which he solicited is awarded to Ansermet.

End of October 1915:
He moves, regretfully leaving the country of Rennex sur Genthod for Geneva (2, Warens Street) to save money.

November 1915:
His lectures at Geneva weren’t able to take place, for lack of listeners.

December 1915:
Providence sends him an extraordinary couple:  Alexandre Barjansky, admirable cellist and his wife Katia who is a sculptress.  They will be at the première of Bloch’s Schelomo.


Beginning of January 1916:
He finishes in three weeks the orchestration of the second part of his Symphony Israël and starts Schelomo.

Beginning of February 1916:
The passionate, ardent and varied manner of playing of Barjansky, and the art of his wife are his inspiration for Schelomo which he composes in a few weeks.

April 1916:
He is almost in desperate straits and if his old friend Pochon, who is looking with a limitless devotion for any spot for him in America, succeeds, what will his destiny be?

May – June 1916:
The three first movements of the First Quartet are outlined.

End of June 1916:
He receives two admirable letters from Stefan Zweig.

July 1916:
He is hired by the English dancer Maud Allan as the head of the orchestra of her troupe for a big American tour.  Before returning to London, he stops in Paris where he meets Cortot and Debussy.

July 30 1916:
Arrived at New York after eight days on the boat from Liverpool.



July 30 1916  New York!  At eight o’clock the Bloch family saw land…And the greenery…And also the splendid Statue of Liberty.

August 1916
August 12:  Musical America devotes a large article written by the young composer Bernard Rogers, who will become a faithful friend.
In six days, he orchestrates eight Preludes by Chopin for Maud Allan.

September 1916
September 5:  He finishes in eight days in New York the last movement of his first String Quartet (the first three movements were composed in Geneva in the spring).

October 1916  Tour Maud Allan…He conducts with success along with other works his Hiver-Printemps, with a little orchestra of 40 musicians, in different cities in the U.S.A. and in Canada.
October 16:  New York première of Hiver-Printemps in the 44th Street Theater in the form of a ballet danced by Maud Allan’s troupe.
October 21:  He conducts the little Maud Allan Orchestra in the Aeolian Hall in New York.  He accompanies the young violinist Isolde Menges who plays the Brahms’ Concerto and La Symphonie Espagnole (Spanish Symphony) of Lalo.  Moreover they played L’Ouverture de Léonore III of Beethoven and Hiver-Printemps which had a sweet success.  The press is wretched.

November 1916
November 7:  Premature finish to the Maud Allan tour… Alas!  People are starting to publish articles on Bloch and on his work in several newspapers:  Boston Globe, Boston Transcript, Musical Observer, Musical America, etc…
A friend of Romain Rolland, Waldo Frank, the young editor of the magazine The Seven Arts, received Bloch with open arms.  One of his friends, Paul Rosenfeld, chief music critic, wants to write a study on Bloch.

December 1916
December 29:  Production of his first Quartet by the Flonzaley Quartet in New York at the Aeolian Hall.  The work produces a strong impression.


January 1917  He meets Mrs. J.F.D. Lanier whose affection and marvelous devotion help him surmount his terrible situation.
In private he gives several lectures at her home.

February 1917  In the magazine “The Seven Arts” they publish an article by Paul Rosenfeld “The music of Ernest Bloch.”

March 1917  “The Seven Arts” publishes an article that he edited:  “Man and his music” translated by his friend Waldo Frank, the director of the magazine.
March 23 and 24 1917:  Invited by Dr. Muck, he directs his Trois Poèmes Juifs (Three Jewish Poems) in Boston.  It is the first truly big success of his career; the press is wonderful and shows a profound understanding of his work.  He meets Carl Engel for the first time; he will become a very close friend.

May 1917
May 3:  Concert of the Cycle Juif (Jewish Cycle) in New York (Carnegie Hall) under the aegis of the “Friends of Music”.  Aside from Les Trois Poèmes Juifs, the other works are world premieres.
Artur Bodanzky conducts the first part of the concert:  – Trois Poèmes Juifs – Schelomo, with soloist Hans Kindler,  solo cellist of the Philadelphia Orchestra  – Prélude et Psaumes 137 et 114  for soprano and orchestra, with the assistance of Melanie Kurt of the Metropolitan Opera.  – Psaume 22 for baritone and orchestra with the assistance of Carl Braun of the Met.
He conducts the second part consecrated to la Symphonie Israël.
It is the greatest event of his artistic life.

June 1917
He embarks for Europe June 7.  About 600 miles from Bordeaux they meet a submarine .    The ship fires five volleys and they miss it.
Before leaving  he signed a contract with G. Schirmer for the publication of all his works.

July, August, September 1917
Vacation in Switzerland.  Then goodbye to the mountains…

October 1917
Arrived in New York October 19 with his family composed of his wife and his three children.  They spend six marvelous weeks at the Wellington Hotel.

November 1917
He begins to work off his two year long condemnation to prison “David Mannes Music School.”  In the course of the 1917-1918 season, he gives five lectures in this School
1.    The soul of art
The soul of music (the soul of David and Clara Mannes!)
The “uneasy” aesthetic of our times
The constraints of form
The freeing by the form.
2.    Musical expression through the melody
Moreover he gives courses on counterpoint, form, etc. (150 dollars for three students, 100 dollars for ten students, etc., etc.)

December 1917
December 2 1917:  He conducts a concert in New York at the Ritz Carlton, through the initiative of the “Friends of Music.”
The program is made up of Liadov, Moussorgsky and Bloch (Hiver-Printemps) and Poèmes d’Automne).
This last work is sung by Madame Povlà Frijsh accompanied by the orchestra.  It is the first complete orchestral performance of this work.


January 1918
January 10 and 13:  Walter Damrosch plays his Trois Poèmes Juifs with a great success.  The orchestra is marvelous, but Bloch would have preferred to conduct himself—it would have been better.
January 25 and 26:  In Philadelphia his concert of the Cycle Juif succeeded admirably and was a very large success.  Stokowski told Bloch he had never seen his orchestra love a conductor so much and devote such admiration to him.
Julius Hartt attends the concert.

February 1918
February 1 and 2:  He directs his Trois Poèmes Juifs in Chicago.  Stock, the head of the orchestra, is completely charming to Bloch and very keen about his work.
February 2:  A marvelous article by Julius Hartt in the Hartford Times caused Bloch to have a good cry.  There is someone who doesn’t know Bloch and who, in hearing his music, read in his soul, understood a whole life, all of Bloch’s struggles, all of his effort, all his thinking, all his aspirations!

March 1918
March 8:  In New York at Carnegie Hall, he conducts his Symphony in C Sharp Minor.  This concert is a success.
March 25:  They arrested Muck, the head of the Boston orchestra.  With Bodanzky, he is the only “real” director that Bloch has met.

April 1918
In a poor synagogue in New York where he heard ancient Hebrew melodies he experienced perhaps the strangest experience of his life.

July-August 1918
Vacation at the sea short at Interlaken on the coast of New Jersey.  His  student, the pianist Ethel Leginska followed them.
He sketches out the first act of Jézabel and every Wednesday he is going to give lessons in New York.

September 1918
Madame Lanier lent him her country house at Ardsley on Hudson so he may compose in peace.
But Mr. Hartt pressures him to become a candidate for the conductor of the Boston orchestra.  The steps are in vain:  if he had been French instead of Swiss (and Jewish!), he would have surely been chosen because the orchestra likes him.

October 1918
Return to New York:  never has the emptiness of this city appeared to him so implacably.

November 1918
At the end of each week he goes to give courses at Hartford.  They spend a wonderful family Thanksgiving holiday with their friends, the Hartts.
Émil Oberhoffer presents Hiver-Printemps November 21-22 with the Orchestra of Minneapolis.

December 1918
He directs the choir of the People’s Music League:  he studies the vocal works of the 15th and 16th centuries.
The Minneapolis Orchestra plays les Trois Poèmes Juifs December 5th and 6th.
The 6th of December in New York (at Carnegie Hall) the contralto Mary Jordan interprets two of his Poèmes d’Automne:  La Vagabonde et Invocation.  The Philharmonic Orchestra is directed by Josef Stransky.


January 1919
They play his Schelomo in San Francisco the 3rd and 5th of January.  The work must have produced a big impression since they are going to repeat it.
The project to direct an orchestra at Hartford  falls through.

March  1919
Horrible flu:  for the first time in his life, he has the feeling of being close to death.  He is incapable of conducting and his concert of choral music of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries takes place March 16th under the direction of Giulio Setti:  after one year of preparation, it is a huge disappointment.
In St. Louis Max Zach performs les Trois Poèmes Juifs March 14 and 15.

April 1919
Stokowski plays his Symphony in C# Minor in Philadelphia the 11th and 12th of April.  The press is mixed.

May 1919
May 29 – He has just finished a new work:  a Suite for viola and piano which he is  going to orchestrate this summer.  It’s no longer Jewish; but possibly Far Eastern!  But it is certainly real Ernest Bloch.

June 1919
They are invited for the summer to Peterboro (New Hampshire) by an adorable woman, Mrs.  Joanne Shaw, founder of a school in which he teaches every morning.

July 1919
Mrs. Shaw is the most genuine,  greatest creature that he has ever met.  He never imagined that such a woman could exist.  He regrets not being ten years younger, not being free, independent…
They produce  Schelomo in London the 4th of July.  Unfortunately, May Mukle only plays the cello-piano version.

August 1919
He is named head of the Young Men’s Symphony Orchestra of New York which gives two concerts per year.  From a monetary point of view, it is very modest but it always helps pay the bills.
Rudolf Schirmer, Bloch’s editor and friend,  has just died; it’s a disaster.
Bloch’s friends from the Flonzaley Quartet telegraph him that the Berkshire prize established  by Mrs. Coolidge, for a sum of $1,000, was awarded to his Suite for viola and piano.

September 1919
Performance of the Suite for viola and piano on September 27 by Louis Bailly and Harold Bauer, at the Festival of Pittsfield (MA) where he and Marguerite were invited by Mrs. Coolidge.  It is a triumph.

October 1919
He doesn’t renew his contract with the Mannes School but he already has more than 20 private students (among whom are Herbert Elwell, Roger Sessions, Frederick Jacobi and Ethel Leginska).

November – December 1919
November 14-15:  In Boston, Pierre Monteux presents the Psalms 114 and 137 with the assistance of the Danish singer Povla Frijsh.
November 18:  New York première of the Suite for viola and piano with  Émile Ferir and Harold Bauer.
November 20:  May Mukle plays Schelomo in New York (Aeolian Hall) in an shortened version.
Hiver-Printemps is presented several times in the United States (in New York by Bodanzky November 5-7, in Chicago by Stock December 5-6, in Detroit by Gabrillowitsch December 18 and 20.)