Introduction    Opportunities    Success

His Interests

Despite his lack of proper schooling, Aleksonder Eisenstein did have several advantages. The fact that his family was forced to live outside of regular Russian society because of their Jewish heritage was in some ways going to be an advantage of him. He was brought up around the other Jewish communities in the area, who met despite persecution and harassment.

From this, he became quite the polyglot. These meetings with the other kinfolk in the community taught him a deep respect for Jewish culture in the face of adversity. They also taught him Yiddish and Hebrew; languages that were to serve him well in his later work with the performing arts.

Far removed from the grand opera houses of Europe, Eisenstein picked up on a number of the local folk dances. As removed from regular Russian society as he was from the performance halls he would someday have a hand in running, these folk dances were quickly becoming one of the most important things in his life.


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Besides the dances, his family, and his Jewish faith, Eisenstein had one other major love. That love was a Zither that once belonged to his namesake grandfather; an instrument that had allegedly traveled with the Eisensteins since their days of venerable exile in Austria. As difficult as it was, nothing pleased Aleksonder more than when he was able to reach down over the strings of the harp-like instrument and draw forth the sounds of beautiful music.

Sadly, no matter how much he developed his own musical prowess, he was denied acceptance into any of the great music programs offered by the private tutors of St. Petersburg. Even if he were to be much closer to the wealth that he clearly lacked, he would have been denied based on the grounds of racial prejudices.

Therefore, he sought the only career in the performing arts. At the age of 16, Aleksonder Eisenstein joined a traveling circus. Touring from 1867 until 1873, he did just as many odd jobs as actual performances. In the circus, however, there was a ready market for someone with a ready knowledge of folk music, and the fact that he was young was quite a novelty. However, it did little to give him any creditability as someone who loved grand music.

While he grew more and more distasteful of this fact, he continued to show a willingness to work with anyone. By the time he left such performances, he was already in his early 20s and able to begin to truly make a name for himself if there was any venue to do so. However, his next step would be as far from any form of the performing arts as one might imagine.

Copyright Aaron Gold 2010