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(b 1928 )

Samuel Adler is unique among those established mainstream American composers whose Jewish identities have played a formative part in their work. He has written prolifically for the Hebrew liturgy and has been consistently active in the American cantorial and Jewish music infrastructure. Adler was born in Mannheim, Germany, where his father, Hugo Chaim Adler, was a respected cantor. After the family’s immigration he became his father’s choir director at the age of 13. Adler studied composition with Aaron Copland, Paul Hindemith, Walter Piston, and Randall Thompson, and conducting with Serge Koussevitzky. He was music director of Temple Emanuel in Dallas from 1953 until 1966, when he became professor of composition at the Eastman School of Music. His compositions include more than 400 works spanning nearly all media, apart from his large liturgical output. Adler has served on the faculty of the Juilliard School since 1997, while remaining professor emeritus at Eastman.

Orchestral Music

Samuel Adler’s orchestral music includes five symphonies and a number of concertos. In these he makes use of varied techniques, including elements of serialism.

Vocal and Choral Music

Adler’s vocal and choral music includes much written for Jewish liturgical use or otherwise of Jewish inspiration. At the same time he has written music that is more lighthearted, including settings that range from Catullus to Dr Seuss. His oratorio The Binding draws on the Bible and the Midrash for its texts.


Adler’s operas include the moving The Outcast of Poker Flat, The Wrestler (based on the story of Jacob) and the music drama The Lodge of Shadows.

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