Jack Skurnick (March 22, 1910 – September 6, 1952) was an American record producer and writer, known as the founder and director of EMS Recordings and as publisher and editor of the music review Just Records.

Jack Skurnick

Career edit

Skurnick worked in the "Elaine Music Shop" on West 44th Street near Madison Avenue in New York, a music store owned by his parents, Max and Anna Skurnick. Doris Day bought records there, and many classical musicians came in to make purchases and chat with Skurnick. [1] One of these was Edgard Varèse.[2] Another was Safford Cape, director of Pro Musica Antiqua. When Skurnick started his record company, EMS Recordings, he named it after the shop. He also convinced Cape and Varese to record with him. EMS was the first label to record Varese.[3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

In the magazine Skurnick sought to build respect for music as an art and to raise performance standards. [8] In the EMS recordings, he put these principles into practice. His aim was to record a history of music, with special attention to the lesser known masterpieces, in performances that would be a model of authentic musicianship. He had mapped out plans far into the future when his work was suddenly interrupted. [9] [10]

Interests edit

A movie buff, he wrote a script that he shot himself. Film director Jules Dassin, then an actor at the Artef, a Jewish theater in New York, appeared in it. It was shown to a small group at a space Skurnick rented in New York but never released beyond that. [11] A fan of old movies, Skurnick twice rented a hall in which to show them. Because he was not able to afford to rent the space regularly, he suggested the project to Betty Chamberlain, Director of the Department of Communications at The Museum of Modern Art from 1948–53, who subsequently introduced a more elaborate series of films at MoMA.

Personal edit

Skurnick was married to the painter Fay Kleinman for 18 years,[12] and had one daughter, Davida. Since her marriage, Davida has been known as Davi Napoleon. Skurnick has two grandsons he never met, Brian Napoleon and Randy Napoleon; a great grandson, Jack Napoleon, who is named after him, and a great granddaughter, Juliet Napoleon.[citation needed]

Skurnick died of a heart attack on September 6, 1952, at the age of 42.

References edit

  1. ^ "Unsung Elders of Olde Musicke | Jordi Savall | Noah Greenberg".
  2. ^ "Edgar Varese - DigiSynth I". Sites.google.com. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  3. ^ Ferdand Ouelette, "A Biography of Edgard Varese", Translated from the French by Derek Coltman, The Orion Press, New York, 1966, pp. 170-171
  4. ^ "Uneasy listening". Los Angeles Times. 29 January 2006. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  5. ^ Conly, John M. "They Shall Have Music" in The Atlantic, September 1960, Jack Skurnick's work with recording engineer Robert Blake at EMS Recordings is explored.
  6. ^ "They Shall Have Music". The Atlantic. September 1960.
  7. ^ "Milestones in Music History #11: Edgard Varèse and the Sublimation of Music".
  8. ^ Myers, Kurtz (1949). "Index of Record Reviews". Notes. 6 (4): 584–600. JSTOR 890719.
  9. ^ {{EMS 219, Spanish Music, was the last recording Skurnick supervised. Released shortly after his death, the back cover it included a tribute to Skurnick that ended with "Its future productions will follow his plans, some of which extended for years into the future, that he had mapped out before his work was so suddenly interrupted.}}
  10. ^ https://davidawells.com/2017/05/garfield-plays-hindemith/
  11. ^ "Oscar Directors: Dassin, Jules–Background, Career, Awards, Filmography". Emanuellevy.com. 26 August 2020. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  12. ^ "Ypsi-based artist Fay Kleinman dead at 99". Annarbor.com. 2012-03-02. Retrieved 2012-06-05.

External links edit