BLOCH, ERNEST (24 July 1880-15 July 1959), was an internationally known composer, conductor, and teacher recruited to found and direct the CLEVELAND INSTITUTE OF MUSIC in 1920. Bloch was born in Geneva, Switzerland. The son of Sophie (Brunschwig) and Maurice (Meyer) Bloch, a Jewish merchant, Bloch showed musical talent early and determined that he would become a composer. His teen years were marked by important study with violin and composition masters in various European cities. Between 1904 and 1916, he juggled business responsibilities with composing and conducting. In 1916 Bloch accepted a job as conductor for dancer Maud Allen's American tour. The tour collapsed after 6 weeks, but performances of his works in New York and Boston led to teaching positions in New York City. During the Cleveland years (1920-25), Bloch completed 21 works, among them the popular Concerto Grosso, which was composed for the students' orchestra at the Cleveland Institute of Music. His contributions included an institute chorus at the CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART, attention to pedagogy especially in composition and theory, and a concern that every student should have a direct and high-quality aesthetic experience. He taught several classes himself. After disagreements with Cleveland Institute of Music policymakers, he moved to the directorship of the San Francisco Conservatory.
In 1930, fortified by the family of Rosa and Jacob Stern, patrons of the arts in San Francisco and by a commission from that city's Temple Emanu-El to create a Sabbath morning service based on texts drawn from the Union Prayer Book, the Swiss-American resigned from his post at the San Francisco Conservatory and returned to his native country. This enabled him to work undisturbed by demands of academia. The Stern trust fund for Bloch was administered by the University of California at Berkeley. Upon his return from his eight year sabbatical, Bloch was to occupy an endowed chair at the university in fulfillment of the terms surrounding the Stern fund. He returned to teaching each summer as professor of music at UC Berkeley, a position he retained until his retirement in 1952. His students over the years included composers Roger Sessions and HERBERT ELWELL. Bloch composed over 100 works for a variety of individual instruments and ensemble sizes and won over a dozen prestigious awards. In 1955 a bronze sculpture of Bloch was dedicated in the Hebrew Cultural Garden in ROCKEFELLER PARK.
Bloch married Margaethe Schneider on 13 Aug. 1904. They had 3 children: Suzanne, Lucienne, and Ivan. Bloch spent the later years of his life in Agate Beach, Oregon; he died in Portland, Oregon.