(b San Francisco, 4 May 1891; d New York, 24 Oct 1952). American conductor and composer. In New York he studied with Gallico, Joseffy, Rubin Goldmark, Ernest Bloch and, at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin, with Juon. From 1916 to 1917 he was assistant conductor of the Metropolitan Opera in New York; he taught harmony at the Master School of United Arts (1924), and composition at the Juilliard School of Music (1934–50), where his composition pupils included Haieff, Ratner, Starer and Robert Ward. As a director of the American section of the ISCM and a member of the executive board of the League of Composers, he worked to further the cause of living composers in the USA. His frequent contributions to Modern Music focus on American composers, on Stravinsky and on more general topics, as in the article ‘In Defense of Modernism’ (May–June 1940). Jacobi also lectured at the University of California at Berkeley, at Mills College and for the Julius Hartt Musical Foundation at Hartford, Connecticut. He won an honourable mention in the Coolidge Competition of 1924, and in 1945 he was given the David Bispham Award for his opera The Prodigal Son, based on early 19th-century prints illustrating the biblical story.
Jacobi’s compositions reflect a modernism informed by American, Judaic, Classical and Romantic traditions. In the 1920s his study of Amerindian music led him, like many of his contemporaries, to try to adapt indigenous material to Western art forms: his String Quartet (1924) and the Indian Dances, given their première by Koussevitzky with the Boston SO in 1928, were a product of this synthesis. It was in the 1930s, however, after being commissioned to write a Friday Evening Service for Temple Emmanuel in New York, that he turned down the main path of his own stylistic development. After composing Sabbath Evening Service, sung in Hebrew, his music began to include more of such elements as mysticism (framed within a neo-classical structure), Hebraic melody and other aspects of his Jewish spiritual and cultural heritage. Examples are the Cello Concerto (1932), Hagiographa (1938), three biblical narratives based on the books of Job, Ruth and Joshua, and his final work, the Friday Evening Service no.2 (1952).
Op: The Prodigal Son (3, H. Voaden), 1943–4, concert perf., Chicago, 1947; staged Toronto, Arts and Letters Club, 22 April 1952
Choral: The Poet in the Desert (C.E.S. Wood), Bar, 4vv, orch, 1925; Sabbath Evening Service, Bar, 4vv, 1930–31; Saadia, hymn, male vv/SATB, 1942; Ahavas Olom, T, 4vv, org, 1945; Contemplation (W. Blake), 4vv, pf, 1947; Ode to Zion (J. Halevi), 4vv, 2 hp, 1948; Ashrey Haish (Zionist song by M. Zaira), arr. 4vv, str, 1949; Arvit l’shabbat, Friday Evening Service no.2, cantor, 4vv, org, 1952
Orch: The Pied Piper, sym. poem, 1915; A California Suite, 1917; The Eve of St Agnes, sym. poem, 1919; Sym. no.1 ‘Assyrian’, 1922; Indian Dances, 1927–8; Conc., vc, orch, 1932; 3 Psalms, vc, orch, 1932; Pf Conc., 1934–5; Vn Conc., 1936–7; Ave rota: 3 Pieces in Multiple Style, small orch, pf, 1939; Rhapsody, hp, str, 1940; Night Piece, fl, small orch, 1941 [after Sym. no.1, movt 2], arr. fl, ob, cl, str qt, pf, 1944; Ode, 1941; Concertino, pf, str, 1946; 2 Pieces in Sabbath Mood, 1946; 4 Dances from The Prodigal Son, 1946; Sym. no.2, C, 1947; Yeibichai: Variations for Orch on an Amer. Indian Theme, 1947; Music Hall, ov., 1948
Chbr and solo inst.: Nocturne, str qt; 3 Preludes, vn, pf, 1921; Str Qt on Indian Themes, 1924; Str Qt no.2, 1933; 6 Pieces for Use in the Synagogue, org, 1933; Scherzo, wind qnt, 1936; Swing Boy, vn, pf, 1937; Hagiographia, 3 Biblical Narratives, str qt, pf, 1938; Shemesh, Palestinian folksong arr., vc, pf, 1940; Fantasy, va, pf, 1941; Ballade, vn, pf, 1942; Impressions from the Odyssey, vn, pf, 1945; Music for Monticello, fl, vc, pf, 1945; Str Qt no.3, 1945; Meditation, trbn, pf, 1947; Sonata, vc, pf, 1950; 3 Quiet Preludes, org, 1950; Night Piece and Dance, fl, pf, 1953
Pf: 6 Pieces, 1921; Pieces for Children, 1935; Dances from The Prodigal Son, 2 pf, 1944; Fantasy Sonata, 1945; Moods, 1946; Prelude, 1946; Toccata, 1946; Introduction and Toccata, 1946; Suite fantasque, 1948
Songs: 3 songs (F.L. Koch, S. Teasdale, A. Brome), 1v, pf, 1914; 3 Songs (S. Naidu), 1v, pf, 1916; Vocalise, 1921; 3 Poems (G. Chaucer), 1v, pf, 1922; 2 Assyrian Prayers, 1v, orch, 1923; Vocalise, 1930; Dunam Po, Palestinian folksong arr., 1939; From the Prophet Nehemiah, 3 excerpts, 1v, 2 pf, 1942; 3 Songs (P. Freneau), 1v, pf, 1948
MSS and other material in US-PHff
Principal publishers: Boosey & Hawkes (New York), Leeds, Marks, G. Schirmer, Southern