Moishe Hofmekler

Moishe Hofmekler (1898–1965) was a violin virtuoso, the leader of Hofmekler Brothers Ensemble and Metropolis’ orchestra. For his achievements he was decorated with order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas (1932). In interwar Lithuania Moishe Hofmekler and the collectives under his leadership earned the reputation of the most professional and reputable instrumentalists of estrade music in Kaunas. The respectable Metropolis became their stage. M. Hofmekler was fluent in Lithuanian, encouraged Lithuanian composers to write pop music. He also performed classical works by Juozas Pakalnis, Emerikas Gailevičius, Juozas Tallat-Kelpša, Stasys Šimkus and Juozas Gruodis, arranged works by foreign and Lithuanian composers for orchestra, recorded a number of plates of shellac with celebrities of the Lithuanian little stage. In 1926, Hofmekler and a septet organised the first Kaunas Radio concert. During the weekends Kaunas Radiophone allotted one-hour broadcast to Hofmeklerband live from Metropolis. In Berlin in 1928 and Kaunas in 1931, Metropolis orchestra recorded a number of plates of shellac, which were often broadcast on Kaunas Radio.

Rūta Skudienė

Legendary musicians of the little stage 1920s-1930s Kaunas, Lithuania - My Soul Rejoices Today. In the Green Meadow

X
Legendary musicians of the little stage 1920s-1930s Kaunas, Lithuania - My Soul Rejoices Today. In the Green Meadow

Legendary musicians of the little stage 1920s-1930s Kaunas, Lithuania - The Nightingale

X
Legendary musicians of the little stage 1920s-1930s Kaunas, Lithuania - The Nightingale

Legendary musicians of the little stage 1920s-1930s Kaunas, Lithuania - Mood, Jewish foxtrot

X
Legendary musicians of the little stage 1920s-1930s Kaunas, Lithuania - Mood, Jewish foxtrot

My Mom Sent Me Away

X
My Mom Sent Me Away music: Moishe Hofmekler; lyrics: Vladas Misiūnas Metropolis Orchestra, leader Moishe Hofmekler, soloist Antanas Šabaniauskas / Antology of old lithuanian shellac records, (c)(p)2007 Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania

Biography

After 1920, several families of Jewish musicians left Vilnius for the provisional capital: Hofmeklers, Stupels and Banks. The largest of them was the Hofmekler family: Marduchai (the son of Ašmena’ cantor, graduate of the School of the Imperial Music Society of Vilnius) and his sons Moishe, Leiba, Daniel, Ruvim and daughter Zelda.

 

Moishe Hofmekler (1898–1965) was a violin virtuoso. He studied under Ilya Malkin at the Vilnius Music School, who was also a teacher of the celebrated Jascha Heifetz. After Polish occupation of Vilnius, the family moved to Kaunas where Moishe graduated from the Conservatoire. 1920 – 1941 he was the leader of Hofmekler Brothers Ensemble and Metropolis’ orchestra. For his achievements he was decorated with order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas (1932). Leiba Hofmekler was a pianist, concertmaster and conductor. Daniel Hofmekler played cello.

 

Moishe Hofmekler and the collectives under his leadership earned the reputation of the most professional and reputable instrumentalists of estrade music in Kaunas. The respectable Metropolis became their stage. In the 20s, M. Hofmekler often appeared with brothers as a trio, quartet and quintet. Later on up to the late 50s the most famous was his Metropolis orchestra, dubbed as Hofmeklerband. During the day and lunch time the restaurant guests enjoyed classical music, while the evenings were devoted to light genres: the orchestra accompanied Antanas Šabaniauskas, Daniel Dolski, Antanas Dvarionas, Stepas Graužinis, Jonas Byra and his quartet, as well as touring guests.

 

According to contemporaries, M. Hofmekler was fluent in Lithuanian, encouraged Lithuanian composers to write pop music, with various formations he performed schlagers by Kajetonas Leipus, Leonardas Lechavičius, N. Naikauskas, Juozas Bankas and Stepas Graužinis, as well as classical works by Juozas Pakalnis, Emerikas Gailevičius, Juozas Tallat-Kelpša, Stasys Šimkus and Juozas Gruodis. During the weekends Kaunas Radiophone allotted one-hour broadcast to Hofmeklerband live from Metropolis (also there were broadcasts from Konradas, Monika, and Aldona cafés). The restaurant management supported the high standard of music making. “The administration of Metropolis informs its honourable clients and society, that recently the restaurant acquired a vibraphone – one and only in the entire Baltic region!” wrote Diena on February 15, 1931. 

 

The old records testify to the mastery of the orchestra. After the arrival of Odeon label Hofmeklers made their first recordings in Kaunas in 1924. Among other compositions, the orchestra recorded Moishe Hofmekler’s Lakštingala (The Nightingale) and Plaukia sau laivelis (The Boat Sails). On July 1, 1926, Hofmekler and a septet organised the first Kaunas Radio concert. In Berlin in 1928 and Kaunas in 1931, Metropolis orchestra recorded a number of plates of shellac, which were often broadcast on Kaunas Radio. They featured Lithuanian folk dances and popular melodies such as Prezidento maršas (Presidential March), suites Tėvynės garsai (Sounds of Homeland), Čigonų stovykloje (In the Gypsy Camp) and Karininkų fokstrotas (Officers’ Foxtrot), waltz Valkatų karalius (King of Vagabonds), tango Kodėl mane tu apgavai (Why Have You Deceived Me), etc.

 

During the WWII Moishe Hofmekler was imprisoned in Kaunas Ghetto and Dachau concentration camp in Germany. While in Kaunas Ghetto he (together with Daniel Pomerantz) formed 40 musicians’ orchestra, organised concerts. After the war he lived in Israel until 1955, performed in Jerusalem Radio, led King David hotel orchestra.

 

Moishe Hofmekler died in Munich in 1965.


 

0