HUGO WEISGALL (1912 - 1997)
Opera composer Hugo Weisgall’s output includes orchestral, chamber and choral works, eight major song cycles, and music for ballet. Born in Czechoslovakia, he came to the US in 1920 with his parents. During the Second World War, he was assistant military attaché to the governments-in-exile in London, and later served as cultural attaché in Prague.
His work was recognized by the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He twice served as composer-in-residence at the American Academy in Rome, was president of the American Music Center for ten years, and also served as president of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Weisgall is a former director of the composer-inresidence program for the Lyric Opera of Chicago and was professor of music at Queens College from 1961 to 1983.
Weisgall’s God is due praise (Ki lo noeh) is a musical setting of one of the hymns traditionally sung by Ashkenazi Jews at the conclusion of the Passover Seder. This poem is from an anonymous medieval source, but can be traced back to the 13th century. The tune Weisgall uses as the basis for this choral work was a favorite at his family Seders.
The transliteration of this particular text corresponds to the Ashkenazi pronunciation, which was common among Eastern European Jews, which was the particular heritage of Professor Weisgall.