Pensioner hears father’s music for first time thanks to Leeds researcher

Dr Stephen Muir, from the School of Music at the University of Leeds, and Issy Spektor.
Dr Stephen Muir, from the School of Music at the University of Leeds, and Issy Spektor.
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An 80-year-old man has heard his late father’s music for the first time thanks to a Leeds choir and music lecturer.

Issy Spektor’s father Froim Spektor, a Russian composer, died in 1948 when his son was just 15 years old.

But his work was recently rediscovered by University of Leeds lecturer and researcher Stephen Muir, who travelled to South Africa to uncover the music.

A concert was held at the university’s Clothworkers Hall on March 14, where Issy heard his father’s compositions for the first time.

Speaking after the concert, Issy, a retired architect, fought back tears.

He said: “The concert was sensational. It was touching.

“My father died when I was 15 and I have never heard the music before.

“His passion was music and we always had music in the house. We had a piano at home and he was always composing.”

Issy was joined by his son and granddaughters for the emotional event.

Dr Muir said: “By uncovering this long-lost music, it’s like finding a message in a bottle, washed up on the other side of the world.”

Speaking about Dr Muir’s research, Issy added: “He has discovered all sorts of things about my dad that I never knew about.

“It has been very revealing.”

Whilst researching Froim Spektor, Dr Muir found other East European and Russian Jewish music from before World War II, which Spektor had taken with him when he fled Russia.

Dovid Ajzensztadt’s ‘Chad Gadya’, or ‘One Little Goat’ was one of the musical works found and was also performed at the concert.

Bret Werb, music curator at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC, said: “Dr Muir has made some rare and exciting discoveries.”

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