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Alexander Kipnis (1891 - 1978)

Alexander Kipnis was born into a poor family living in a Jewish ghetto. His father, a fabric salesman, was educated but had no musical interests, although Kipnis recalled his mother and others in the ghetto singing songs with which he quickly became familiar as a child. After his father died when he was twelve, he ran off briefly to join a travelling opera troupe; but then sang as a boy soprano in the local synagogue and after his voice broke, he worked as a carpenter’s apprentice to support his mother. Kipnis began to study music formally only when he was nineteen, while also singing in synagogues. He learnt two instruments, double bass and trombone, with the aim of being drafted into the Russian army as an officer, but graduated from the Warsaw Conservatory in 1912 as a conductor.



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