Jack Gottlieb, z"l, Composer, Received Posthumous Doctor of Humane Letters from : Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Jack Gottlieb, composer and Professor of Music at The Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music at HUC-JIR in New York, received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters posthumously at HUC-JIR’s Graduation in New York on Thursday, May 5, 2011 at Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York, 10 East 66th Street, New York City. Gottlieb died on February 23, 2011. His composition, Eitz Chayim, will be performed by HUC-JIR’s cantorial students to honor his memory during the Graduation program. 

Rabbi David Ellenson, HUC-JIR President, stated, “An internationally recognized composer of sacred music and orchestral works, Jack Gottlieb influenced generations of HUC-JIR’s cantorial students at our Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music.”

Gottlieb received his B.A. from Queens College, NY, an M.F.A. from Brandeis University and a D.M.A. from the University of Illinois. Synagogue composer Max Helfman, his first mentor, was the one to inspire him to write sacred music. Dr. Gottlieb also studied with Aaron Copland and Boris Blacher at the Berkshire Music Center. From 1958 to 1966, he was Leonard Bernstein’s assistant at the New York Philharmonic. In 1967 his sacred service, Love Songs for Sabbath, was given at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, MN, probably the first time a full-length synagogue service was ever heard under Catholic auspices (excerpts recorded on Naxos 8.599433 with six other choral works). From 1973-77 he was composer-in-residence and the first full-time professor of music at The Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. In 1977 he joined the [now called] Leonard Bernstein Office, Inc., as publications director, and served as consultant for the Bernstein estate.

He was named by the New York Philharmonic as the Leonard Bernstein Scholar-in-Residence for the 2010-2011 season. Among artists who have performed his works are Bernstein, members of the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra; singers Jennie Tourel, Adele Addison, Lee Venora and John Reardon; the Gregg Smith Singers, and many other choral groups; and actresses Tovah Feldshuh and Felicia Montealegre. He was past president of the American Society for Jewish Music and received numerous awards, most recently from the Zamir Choral Foundation "in recognition of his lifetime contributions to Jewish music." Among these compositions was his Songs of Godlove, a two-volume set of 51 solos and duets (Transcontinental Music).

Some of his secular works were inspired by iconic movies. Among them were Downtown Blues for Uptown Halls, songs; The Silent Flickers, for 4-hand piano; Rick’s Place, piano trio; Three Frankenstein Portraits for a cappella chorus; and an opera, The Listener’s Guide to Old-Time Movies. His books Working with Bernstein, a memoir (Amadeus Press, 2010), and Funny, It Doesn't Sound Jewish: How Yiddish Songs and Synagogue Melodies Influenced Tin Pan Alley, Broadway and Hollywood (Library of Congress and SUNY Press, 2004) received rave reviews nationwide. 

Click here to view the National 2011 Graduation/Ordination/Investiture press release.

Click here to view the invitation.


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's first institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu