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Henech Kon
Birth Date
1890
Birth Place
Łódź, Poland
Death Date
1970
Death Place
New York, NY, United States

Henech Kon  Biography

Henech Kon or Henryk Kon (1890–1972) was a Polish cabaret performer.

Kon was born in Łódź to a Chassidic family, and sent at the age of 12 to his grandfather in Kutno, where he studied Torah but also studied with local klezmers, absorbing folk music from players and badkhonim. When his family realized he would never be a rabbi, they sent him to music school in Berlin.

In 1912 he returned to Poland where he was drawn into literary artistic circles of Jewish Warsaw, particularly the “artistic culture salon” of the famous Polish actress Tea Artsishevska (née Miryam Isroels), later a member of the revi-teater Azazel. Her then husband, sculptor Bernard Kratko, introduced Kon to Isaac Leib Peretz and Kon set several of Peretz’s works to music, including Treyst mayn folk (Comfort My People) and the play Bay nakht oyfn alten mark (A Night in the Old Marketplace).

In 1922 “proletarian Lodz was tired of earnest dramas and light comedies.” Responding to the new popularity of satire, Kon – with poet Moishe Broderzon and painter Yitschok Broyner – created the marionette theater Chad-Gadya, the first of a string of revi-teaters (venues for music theater revues) in Polish towns and cities.

Henekh Kon was Moyshe Broderson’s closest collaborator, building with him all the kleynkunst theaters in Poland: the marionette-theater Khad-Gadye (1922) in Lodz, the kleynkunst theater Azazel (1925) in Warsaw, Sambatiyon (1926) and Ararat (1927). His was the musical spirit behind all of them.

He later was also closely associated with the kleynkunst (small art) venue Ararat. He composed music for around 40 theater productions, including Sholem Asch’s Kiddush ha-Shem, Shakespeare’s Shylock, Aaron Zeitlin’s (Tseytlin’s) Yidnshtot, Moshe Lipshitz’ Hershele Ostropolyer, Dovid Bergelson’s Di broytmil (The Bread Mill), H. Leyvik’s Der Golem, and many others.

His opera David and Batsheba was written (with Moishe Broderzon) and presented in Warsaw in 1924. Kon himself sang in the production, as did Moshe Shneur’s chorus.

He is strongly associated with the Warsaw Yung-teater, the Yiddish avant-garde theater company which emerged from Michal Weichert’s Yiddish Theater Studio. He wrote the music for Boston, about Sacco and Vanzetti, Trupe Tanentzap, an Abraham Goldfaden spectacle, Napoleon’s Treasure, based on a Sholem Aleichem story, and many others.

After the Second World War Henoch Kon worked with the Yiddish Art Theater in Paris. Beginning in 1934 he also worked in film; he composed the music for The Dibbuk and Zygmunt Turkow’s Di freylekhe kabtsonim (The Jolly Paupers), among others. He moved to America, where he was never particularly successful, and died in New York City.

3 thoughts on “Four Divine States of Mind”

  1. I am reaching out to you on behalf of Saiph Stars, a non-profit organization developed for children battling illnesses, providing them with resources such as videos, songs, games, magazines, etc. to entertain and inspire them while undergoing treatments during their long hospitalizations.
    BH, we have a wide range of performers, singers, storytellers such as Yakov Shwekey, Mordechai Shapiro, Ari Goldwag, Baruch Levine, YBC, Uri Davidi, Rabbi Ashear, Rabbi Lish, Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation, Rabbi Erps, Rebbee Hill, Rabbi Pesach Krohn, and many more who have joined our project by allowing us to use their material. In addition, subscriptions such as Mishpacha, Binah, The Circle, Spotlight, JWOW have all joined our project as well BH. All the material will be uploaded to locked iPads and is streamed thru the Saiph Stars App designated to be used by these children.
    We would love to include your material as it would mean a lot to the children.
    Please check out our website for more info at http://www.saiphstars.com.
    It should be a tremendous zechus for you! Looking forward to hearing from you soon!
    Shulamit

  2. Felice Glazer says:

    I was just sitting at my piano looking over a very old book of songs called the songs we sing by Harry Cooper Smith. I got this book when I went to Anshe emet Sunday school in Chicago. That was in the late forties and fifties. This book is falling apart but I love it and will never part with it until I pass away. Something today just made me decide to look up the name of Harry Coopersmith and that’s how I found this site.

  3. Philip Joseph Brody says:

    Joseph Brody was my great grandfather. Murray Brody was my grandfather and Joseph Brody was my father. I am Philip Joseph Brody born in Queens N.Y. My halfbrother Brian is a saxophone player. Unfortunately I think musical talent skipped me. My great grandfather died before my father was born. Unfortunately my father died around 59 years old. I’m about to be 52 so hopefully I won’t pass before my time.

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