Dr. Michael Isaacson

Dr. Michael Isaacson

I am so pleased that the Jewish Music Commission and Cantor Phil Baron have asked me to teach the Helfman 2010 fellows. We all struggle to define what being a knowledgeable American Jewish composer means in this 21st century. I have great hopes for the results of this noble musical exercise first created by composer Max Helfman z''l at Brandeis Camp Arts Institute. We honor his initiative as we progress into the next generation.


One of the most prolific and accomplished American Jewish composers of our time, Dr. Michael Isaacson has composed and published more than 500 sacred and secular works, conducted and produced over 50 CDs and albums, pioneered the National Federation of Temple Youth’s American folk music style, and is the Founding Music Director of the Israel Pops Orchestra and the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music. He was honored by Hebrew Union College and The Jewish Theological Seminary as one of the ten most distinguished Jewish sacred music composers in America.

Dr. Isaacson created the symphonic music for the New York Museum of Jewish Heritage's permanent collection exhibit performed by the Israel Philharmonic, and is the recipient of the largest co-commission of synagogue music in history To Recreate the World, a Sabbath worship service performed simultaneously across America and Canada by children from forty-three congregations to welcome in the new millennium on Shabbat Shirah, the Sabbath of Song in January of 2000. This year will celebrate its tenth anniversary national performance.

With a Ph.D. in Composition from the Eastman School of Music, Dr. Isaacson has also studied keyboard at Juilliard and Ethnomusicology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Composer of five Sabbath services, three wedding services, several cantatas, and both choral and solo music for the High Holidays and life cycle settings, Dr. Isaacson is the author of the trilogy The Michael Isaacson Songbook Volumes I, II, &III containing one hundred and sixty of his compositions with CD musical examples distributed by Transcontinental Music through Hal Leonard. His groundbreaking study entitled Jewish Music as Midrash: What Makes Music Jewish? is in its third printed edition (available at michaelisaacson.com). It is also available on an audio book spoken by the author at Oysongs.com

In Los Angeles, Michael has arranged, orchestrated and conducted for noted film composers Alex North, Elmer Bernstein, Walter Scharf and Charles Fox and composed his own original music for several television series. He has arranged music for the Bob Hope Show as well as The Boston Pops with John Williams. His original music can also been heard in feature films Liberty Heights, The Passover Plot and on TV’s Rich Man, Poor Man, Days of Our Lives, Hawaii 5-0, The Nanny, and most recently, Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm.

He is married to Susan Isaacson a Jewish Educational Administrator. They have two sons Dr. Ari Isaacson, a resident in Radiology and Andrew Isaacson a software facilitator at Palantir Tech. Ari is married to Lara, and Andy is married to Amy.

Composition Created as Part of Fellowship
Mi Chamocha
Performed by: 
Cantor Phil Baron; VBS choir; Piano