Moses Asch

Moe Asch
Born Moses Asch
December 2, 1905 (1905-12-02)
Died October 19, 1986 (1986-10-20)
New York City
Nationality U.S.
Known for Folkways Records
Parents Sholem Asch
Relatives Nathan Asch

Moses ("Moe") Asch (December 2, 1905, Warsaw – October 19, 1986, New York City) was the founder of Folkways Records. The label, founded in 1948, was instrumental in bringing folk music into the American mainstream.

Asch worked with such famous folk and blues singers as Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Pete Seeger and Ella Jenkins. Amongst the jazz artists with whom he had an association, was the so called Father of Stride Piano, James P. Johnson. Johnson made a significant series of recordings for several labels controlled by Asch, including Asch, Stinson, Disc, and Folkways. On the Stinson album, New York Jazz, Johnson recorded 5 numbers which he stated could be heard in New York in the 1910s, in addition to the first recorded piano solo of Scott Joplin's, Euphonic Sounds. This established the link between the stride piano of Johnson, and the ragtime of Joplin, from which stride is descended. Among the other significant piano solos recorded by Johnson, for Asch, subsequently issued on Folkways, and later Smithsonian Folkways,were several of Johnson's classical works: the rhapsody, Yamekraw, and the Concerto Jazz o Mine (also under the title, Blues for Jimmy).

He was the son of Yiddish language novelist and dramatist Sholem Asch and the younger brother of novelist Nathan Asch. After his death, the Folkways recordings were acquired by the Smithsonian Institution and are now part of the heritage of all Americans; many of the titles are reissued.

[edit] Further reading

  • American National Biography, vol. 1, pp. 661–662.
  • Carlin, Richard. Worlds of Sound: The Story of Smithsonian Folkways. New York: Smithsonian Books/Collins, 2008. ISBN 0-06156-355-2
  • Goldsmith, Peter D. Making People's Music: Moe Asch and Folkways Records. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998. ISBN 1-56098-812-6
  • Olmsted, Tony. Folkways Records: Moses Asch and His Encyclopedia of Sound. New York,NY: Routledge, 2003. ISBN 0-415-93709-4

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