after the move) he was and still is known as 'Моисей Самуилович Вайнберг' (Moisey Samuilovich Vaynberg). Among close friends he would also go by his Polish diminutive 'Metek'. Re-transliteration of his surname from the Cyrillic alphabet (Вайнберг) back into the Latin alphabet produced a variety of spellings, including 'Weinberg', 'Vainberg', and 'Vaynberg'. The form 'Weinberg', as the most frequent English-language rendition of this common Jewish surname, is now being increasingly used, notably in the latest edition of Grove and by Weinberg's biographer, Per Skans Weinberg was born in 1919 to a Jewish family in Warsaw.
His father, Shmil (or Shmuel) Wajnberg (1882-1943), moved to Warsaw from Chişinău a decade before Weinberg's birth and worked as a violinist and conductor for a Yiddish theatre in Warsaw, where the future composer joined him as pianist at the age of 10 and later as a musical director of several performances. The family had already been the victim of anti-semitic violence in Bessarabia— his great-grandfather and grandfather were believed killed during the Kishinev pogrom. This is unconfirmed, as their names do not appear on the list of victims. Weinberg entered the Warsaw Conservatory, studying piano, at the age of twelve, and graduated in 1939. Two works (his first string quartet and a berceuse for piano) were composed before he fled to the Soviet Union at the outbreak of war.
His parents and sister remained behind and perished in the Trawniki concentration camp. He settled in Minsk, where he studied composition for the first time at the Conservatory there. At the outbreak of the World War II on the Soviet territory, Weinberg was evacuated in Tashkent (Central Asia), where he wrote works for the opera, as well as met and married Solomon Mikhoels' daughter Natalia Vovsi. There he met Dmitry Shostakovich who was impressed by his talent and became his close friend.
Meeting Shostakovich had a profound effect on the younger man, who said later that, "It was as if I had been born anew". In 1943 he moved to Moscow at Shostakovich's urging, Mikhoels was murdered in 1948 as part of Stalin's post-war anti-semitic campaign. Some of Weinberg's works were among those banned during the Zhdanovshchina of 1948, and for a time he could make a living only by composing for the theatre and circus. In February 1953, he himself was arrested on charges of "Jewish bourgeois nationalism" in relation to his participation in the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee: Shostakovich wrote to Lavrenti Beria to intercede on Weinberg's behalf, as well as agreeing to look after Weinberg's daughter if his wife wеre also arrested. In the event, he was saved by Stalin's death the following month, and he was officially rehabilitated shortly afterwards. Thereafter Weinberg continued to live in Moscow, composing and performing as a pianist.
He and Shostakovich lived nearby, sharing ideas on a daily basis. Besides the admiration which Shostakovich frequently expressed for Weinberg's works, they were taken up by some of Russia's foremost performers, including Emil Gilels, Leonid Kogan, Mstislav Rostropovich and Kurt Sanderling. Towards the end of his life, Weinberg suffered from Crohn's disease, although he continued to compose. He reportedly converted to Orthodox Christianity shortly before his death. Read more on Last.fm.
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