‘Jubilee Concert to Honor Proletarian Composer’ by Clara Rubenstein from the Daily Worker. Vol. 2 No. 112. May 23, 1925.

‘A group photo of the Freiheit Gezang Farein chorus in New York City, dated 1936 or 1937, photograph by I. Russack. The scene is a tribute to the former conductor Jacob Schaefer who had passed away recently.’
‘Jubilee Concert to Honor Proletarian Composer’ by Clara Rubenstein from the Daily Worker. Vol. 2 No. 112. May 23, 1925.

ON the 24th of this month, Jacob Schaefer, the well-known musician and leader of the Freiheit Singing Organization, will receive an enthusiastic, real proletarian welcome and ovation from the workers of Chicago, as the day will mark the close of his ten years of intensive work and considerable accomplishments in the field of music. Jacob Schaefer, as a musician identified himself with a proletarian task, namely, to bring the esthetic and educational influences of music to the workers who labor in factories and in other various places of business and as they endure the harsh conditions prevalent in their personal lives, gradually lose their sensibilities for the finer assets of life among which music probably plays the most predominant part. He had therefore, devoted his talents and time to the work of developing and creating the song of the toller, clearly indicating thereby, his firm belief in the existence of proletarian music.

HE realizes as well as we do, that the (so-called) class struggle; becoming such distinct an event at the present time, has also reached the sphere of the finer arts. A line of demarcation must be drawn in that great field of art. Our music should incorporate characteristics of proletarian consciousness and reflect the conceptions and tendencies of our revolutionary times. Music of the higher sort is at the disposal of the rich. They are patronizing the artist and the latter, in turn, seeks their favor and tries to satisfy their whims.

IN the future we are bound to see music being responsible to the great events of time. To the facts which will particularly determine the destinies of humanity as they will be manifested in the revolutionary struggles of the oppressed, downtrodden masses for liberation and freedom. Proletarian music suggests to us the idea that proletarian emotions are to find incarnation in musical conceptions expressed in musical sounds. Music which has been a source of inspiration to humanity and has been used to elevate the spirit and imbue the soul with longing and desire for justice, spiritual gratification will serve an equal purpose to the workers, yet will strengthen their belief in, their Ideals and inspire them to do things essential to bring about the realization of their dreams.

TRUE proletarian composers are not to be found in numbers. They are rare; but they will appear in due course of time. One of them is the man mentioned in the previous lines, Jacob Schaefer. His musical compositions present themes, dealing with life of workers. His newly created work which is to be given on the 24th of this month is a musical score composed to the words of a dramatic poem written by a revolutionary Russian playwright. The selection of that dramatic poem for a theme of a musical work and the making of its performance coincident with a time which is regarded by him and his fellow workers as a jubilee, are evidence that he is the new type of a proletarian composer, organically connected with our proletarian aspirations and ideals.

‘Group photo of the Freiheit Gezang Farein chorus, New York City, 1923.’

J. Schaefer Is a man of whom we can expect very much. His past life had proved that. He came over to America as an Immigrant and started to work as a carpenter. Being a child of poor parents he never knew what meant to live comfortably and enjoy those things which a person in the blooming period of youth is longing for. Here, in America, he faced those hardships and deprivations which meet newcomers. He labored hard, and at the same time spared time and saved some of his meager earnings for the purpose of taking up musical studies. Being a man of energy and determination he overcame the difficulties. He gradually acquired a musical education and thereby afforded his natural talents to come into play secure and for him a prominent place in the profession. It is expected that the workers of Chicago will take notice of this affair and will be present at the Studebaker Theater on the 24th day of May, 2:30 p.m. to hear the work of Jacob Schaefer, performed by the Freiheit Singing Society, members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and conducted by the composer himself.

The Daily Worker began in 1924 and was published in New York City by the Communist Party US and its predecessor organizations. Among the most long-lasting and important left publications in US history, it had a circulation of 35,000 at its peak. The Daily Worker came from The Ohio Socialist, published by the Left Wing-dominated Socialist Party of Ohio in Cleveland from 1917 to November 1919, when it became became The Toiler, paper of the Communist Labor Party. In December 1921 the above-ground Workers Party of America merged the Toiler with the paper Workers Council to found The Worker, which became The Daily Worker beginning January 13, 1924.

Access to PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/dailyworker/1925/1925-ny/v02b-n112-NYE-may-23-1925-DW-LOC.pdf

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