Steinberg, Ben (Benjamin). Composer, conductor, organist, teacher, b Winnipeg 22 Jan 1930; B MUS (Toronto) 1961. A soloist at 8 in the synagogue choir conducted by his father, Cantor Alexander Steinberg, he began conducting choirs himself at 12. At the RCMT 1948-51 and 1957-60 he studied composition with John Weinzweig, piano with Samuel Dolin, and voice with Weldon Kilburn. After teaching 1953-8 in public schools in the Toronto area and studying music education at the University of Toronto, he served 1961-4 as head of the music department at Winston Churchill Collegiate Institute and 1964-86 in the same capacity at Forest Hill Collegiate Institute, Toronto. He was director of school music 1950-60 and music director 1960-9 at Holy Blossom Temple, and in 1970 he became music director at Temple Sinai. His method for youth choirs, Together Do They Sing (New York 1961), was commissioned and published by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.
Steinberg's music includes five sacred services (four published - 1963, 1969, 1969, and 1990 - by Transcontinental Music); works for choir and/or soloist and organ or orchestra (some published by Transcontinental Music and Israeli Music Publications); The Vision of Isaiah (1970) for tenor, choir, and organ or instrumental ensemble; Yerushalayim (1973) for soprano, choir, and orchestra; Echoes of Children (1979), a cantata for soloist, narrator, chorus, and orchestra (which won the International Gabriel Award and has twice been televised on PBS); and instrumental works including a suite for flute and string trio based on Israeli folksongs. Steinberg was invited by the city of Jerusalem to be an artist-in-residence in 1978 and 1980; he received the Kavod (Honour) Award of the Cantor's Assembly in 1983, and that same year received a composer's award from the American Harp Society for his Suite for Flute, Viola and Harp (1981, commissioned by Suzanne Shulman). A number of temples, synagogues, and congregations in the USA commissioned some 18 works from Steinberg between 1980 and 1991. He has also received commissions from Paul Brodie (Suite Sephardi 1980), the Chamber Players of Toronto (Suite for String Orchestra 1983), and Lawrence Cherney (Invocations 1990). Baritone Richard Allen recorded several of Steinberg's works on the cassette A Ben Steinberg Concert. (ca 1989, Transcontinental unnumbered).
Of Steinberg's music Michael Isaacson wrote, 'While conservative, pragmatic and always well-mannered, it is also gratefully mindful of its tradition in a deeply lyrical way' (Journal of Synagogue Music, June 1973). Steinberg has presented Jewish music on the CBC, has published articles on it, and has given many lecture-recitals on it in Australia, Canada, Japan, and the USA. He is a contributor to EMC, a member of the CLComp, and an associate of the Canadian Music Centre. His papers have been deposited at the University of Calgary.
See also Jewish music and musicians.