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Jewish Life Reviewed in Latest Cables and Letters

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Ten years ago a young Jewish boy of sixteen became a student at the Sao Paulo Conservatory of Music and Dramatics. He was the first Jewish student to enter the institution.

Today the second book written by that young man, now a professor of piano at the conservatory, is being praised very highly in Brazilian newspapers and music circles.

The name of the young professor is Israel Pelafsky, and that of his book is “Introduction to Piano Pedagogy.” The book, one of the few books of its kind here, is written in Portuguese and is divided into two parts covering “Piano Pedagogy Through The Centuries” and “A Historical Resume of The Instruments Which Preceded The Piano, and The Composers, Teachers and Pianists Who Compose The Repertory of The Piano.” The volume stresses the moral and social functions of music in the days gone by and in our own day.

“The human being with the progress of civilization and the perfection of his spiritual formation, is capable of profound sensibility, of vague anxieties and spiritual uplift,” Professor Pelafsky says in his book, “and he sublimates…the force of his spiritual and moral capacity in the highest expression of human culture–in the arts, and principally, in music.”


The young professor, who is the only Jew on the staff of the conservatory, sketches in his book the evolution of the essentials of piano teaching and the technique of piano playing, and describes the growth of the present methods for the use of the hand, the forearm and the wrist. He also dwells on the fact that men and women should be taught the technicalities differently because of the difference in their arm muscle development.

In the latter part of his work Professor Pelafsky sketches the origins of music, tracing its evolutions through mythology, Greek poetry, the cantos of the Middle Ages and the modern composers beginning with Haydn. He also gives an account of the development of the modern piano from the clavichord, the spinet, the virginal and the harpsichord, and tells the names and varieties of early percussion and wind instruments.

Professor Pelafsky’s first book, “Contemporary Music,” resulted in the author’s being invited to write for “Revista,” a periodical published by the National Institute of Music, most important in Brazil at Rio de. Janeiro.


Israel Pelafsky was born in the Argentine. When he was five he was brought to Brazil by his parents. At sixteen he entered the conservatory, and at nineteen he was professor of piano. He has been teaching advanced classes for some six years, and is greatly liked and admired by his pupils and his former teachers, now his colleague.

Since Israel Pelafsky entered the conservatory at Sao Paulo ten years ago, there have been a number of Jewish students there, including Esther Epstein, who had held government scholarships for music study abroad and Adolpho Tabacov, who last year won first prize at Rio de Janeiro in a contest to determine the best Brazilian pianist.

Professor Pelafsky is proud of his Jewish name and is an active worker in the local Jewish community, where he is a member of several Jewish institutions. Some time ago he sponsored a movement to present to Dr. Silveira Bueno, Portuguese journalist and editor, an album containing appreciations of Dr. Bueno’s services to Jews against their anti-Semitic enemies in this country.

Representative of the new generation of South American Jewry, Professor Pelafsky and his contributions to Brizilian culture are a credit to the Jewish colony here.

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