Al Drucker: A man who made a difference

By , December 14, 2010 10:42 am

What is a renaissance man? According to the dictionary a renaissance  man  is someone who is knowledgeable, educated, and proficient in a wide range of fields. Al Drucker was such a man.

A graduate of Adelphi University, he pursued a career in engineering. He eventually got a job with Grumman where he helped design the guidance system for the lunar lander.

Throughout his life he expressed his love of science and math and engineering by working on fix-it projects.  He loved to use engineering principles to solve practical problems.

A true renaissance man, he was not only creative in the engineering and science fields, he was creative in the arts as well. He loved to paint, was an accomplished photographer, and sang in the synagogue choir.

His grandchildren called him “Albert Einstein” because they thought he was a genius who often involved them in science “projects.” He was not only a genius.  He was a genius who enjoyed using his knowledge to help others. After he moved to Florida he started a small business to coach seniors how to use their computers. He was always available to friends and neighbors when they needed help.

What attracted Al to the Judaica Sound Archives at FAU Libraries? Was it his love of Jewish music? His desire to be a part of an historic cultural preservation project? The inclination to help in whatever way he could? For many years Al was a dedicated volunteer at the JSA. He did many jobs and helped out in many ways.

One day he noticed that we were having trouble cleaning 78 rpm recordings, some of which were over 100 years old. These fragile discs accumulated dirt in their grooves which interfered with our efforts to get good sound quality when we digitized them. We had purchased a commercial product designed for this purpose but found that all it did was make mud out of the dirt which then only made matters worse.

Al designed a sonic multi-record cleaner using the same technology that jewelers use for cleaning fine jewelry. With this problem solved, the JSA was able to greatly speed up the process of getting the music out of the trash and onto the website.

Al was 88 years old. All of us at the Judaica Sound Archives are deeply saddened by his passing.

Al Drucker (left) with sonic record cleaner he invented

Mischa Elman

By , December 10, 2010 5:31 pm

The world of music has been enriched beyond measure by the efforts of Jewish performers, conductors and composers.  Today we highlight the talents of one of the great violinists of the 20th century, Mischa Elman.

Famed for his passionate style and beautiful tone, this world-famous virtuoso was the grandson of a violin-playing klezmer performer.  By the age of six he was already understood to be a prodigy and when he was 11 he was admitted to the St. Petersburg Conservatory for further training.

He made his Berlin debut in 1904 at age 13 and his London debut a year later. While still in his teens he traveled to the USA to appear at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Fifty years later, in 1958, he celebrated this occasion with a wonderful return performance.

Elman’s recorded legacy spanned over 60 years. His first 78 rpm discs were made for Pathe, in Paris, in 1906.  He continued recording until shortly before his death in 1967.

The Judaica Sound Archives has created six digitized “albums” from Elman’s 78 rpm discs produced by Victor/Victrola between 1906 and 1921.

Click either record label to hear any of the 77 songs in this collection.

In memoriam: Mort Malavsky

By , December 6, 2010 12:13 pm

Mort Malavsky, one of the last surviving members of the Malavsky Family Choir, passed away Nov. 24, 2010. He is survived by his wife Rhoda of 50 years, children Andy, Jeffrey and Jodi, daughter-in-laws Ellen and Kelli, son-in-law Lonnie,  his sisters Ruthie  and Minnie, and his six grandchildren Samuel, Matthew, Jake, Max, Melanie and Eric.

You can enjoy the music of Cantor Seymour Malavsky and his Malavasky Family Choir by visiting the JSA website.

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