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Sholom Secunda

Sholom Secunda
Born 4 September [O.S. 23 August] 1894
Origin Aleksandriya, Kherson Governorate, Russian Empire
Died June 13, 1974(1974-06-13) (aged 79)
New York, United States
Occupation(s) Composer
Sholom Secunda as a "wonder child" khazn

Sholom Secunda (4 September [O.S. 23 August] 1894, Aleksandriya, Russian Empire – 13 June[1] 1974, New York) was an American composer of Ukrainian-Jewish descent.


  • Biography 1
  • Personal life 2
  • Works 3
    • Filmography 3.1
    • Operas 3.2
  • Notes 4
  • External links 5


He was born in 1894 as Shloyme Sekunda in Aleksandria city, Kherson Governorate,[2] Russian Empire (now Ukraine) to the family of Abraham Secunda and Anna Nedobeika. In 1897 the family moved to the Black Sea port city of Nikolaev, where they opened an iron bed factory.

At age 12 Shloyme played Abraham/Avrom in Abraham Goldfaden's Akeydes Yitskhok (The Sacrifice of Isaac) and Markus in The Kishef-Makherin (The Sorceress).

In 1907, like numerous other Jews of the Russian Empire (see History of the Jews in Russia), he emigrated to United States with his family after series of pogroms that rocked the region in 1905. In January 1908 the family emigrated to New York as steerage passengers on board the SS Carmania and were inspected and briefly detained on Ellis Island. In New York City (they first lived on East 127th Street where his father had settled before sending for his wife and children), young Shlomo became a noted child khazn (cantor). When his voice changed he studied music and taught piano, then worked in comedy theater in the chorus until his song "Amerike" was accepted by Jennie Goldstein, who sang it with great success in Kornblum's Unzere kinder (Our Children).

In 1913, after studying at the Institute for Musical Arts in New York City (predecessor to the Juilliard School), he worked at the Odeon Theater as chorist and composer; 1914 saw the premier of "Yoysher, music by Sholom Secunda and Solmon Shmulevitsh." He began working in "Lyric theater" as choir director, then as director and orchestrator of the old "historic" operetta repertoire; he studied orchestration for a year under Ernest Bloch.

In 1919-1920 he earned his first solo composer's credits with S. H. Kon's The Rabbi's Daughter and Free Slaves. He worked in Philadelphia's Metropolitan Opera House with director Boris Thomashevsky; in 1921-22 he was director and composer at Clara Young's Liberty Theater. He composed for Di Yidishe Shikse by Anshl Shor (1927) A nakht fun libe (A Night of Love) by Israel Rosenberg. An exhaustive list of his many works can be found in the Leksikon fun Yidishn Teater.

In 1932 he wrote the melody for the popular song "Bay mir bistu sheyn" on the lyrics of Jacob Jacobs for the musical performed at the Parkway Theatre in Brooklyn, which later became a major hit for the Andrews Sisters. Together with Aaron Zeitlin he wrote the famous Yiddish song "Dos kelbl (The Calf)" (also known as "Donna Donna") which was covered by many musicians, including Donovan and Joan Baez.

Along with Abraham Ellstein, Joseph Rumshinsky, and Alexander Olshanetsky, he was one of the "big four" composers of his era in New York City's Second Avenue National Theater (Yiddish theatre) scene in the Yiddish Theater District. [3] Secunda also worked at another theater founded by Maurice Schwartz (an emigrant from the Russian Empire), Yiddishe Art Theater, earning $75/week for conducting an orchestra. In 1938 he gave an interview to the Courier-Post about the hit song, Bei Mir Bistu Shein.

Personal life

Secunda was married and had two boys.





  1. ^ "Sholom Secunda (1894 - 1974) - Find A Grave Photos". 2007-07-06. Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  2. ^ Zalmen Zylbercweig, Leksikon fun Yidishn Teater (Volume 2), p. 1515-1518
  3. ^ Program notes [2] (Music of Los Angeles Jewish Composers Aminadav Aloni, Michael Isaacson, Robert Strassburg and Hidden Treasures from Prokofiev, Krejn, Grzegorz Fitelberg and Abe Ellstein), Valley Beth Shalom, November 29, 2005. Accessed online 13 November 2006.

External links

  • Guide to the Sholom Secunda Papers in the Fales Library of NYU
  • Sholom Secunda at the Internet Movie Database
  • Opera Glass
  • Shlimazl (Shlyoma Sekunda, history of the famous song) on YouTube (Russian) Let be blessed his memory.
  • Interview of Sholom Secunda to the Camden Courier, January 26, 1938
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