Paul Schoenfield (Pinchas Schoenfeld) (1947-2024)

We are sad to announce that composer Paul Schoenfield (Pinchas Schoenfeld) died on April 29th, 2024 in Jerusalem, having succumbed to cancer. A memorial concert is scheduled at 2:30PM on September 15, 2024 at St. Mark’s Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., under the direction of Christopher Kendall and the 21st Century Consort.

Paul Schoenfield at rehearsal

Paul Emerson Schoenfield was born in 1947 in Detroit to Ruth and Gilbert Schoenfield. He began piano lessons at age six and within a year started to compose music. Paul quickly became a virtuosic performer. At age 19 he both appeared with Leonard Bernstein on a New York Philharmonic Young People’s Concert as well as making his Town Hall solo debut. He received his undergraduate degree from Carnegie Mellon and a DMA from the University of Arizona.

Paul's distinguished career as a concert pianist included numerous solo recitals and ensemble performances. Paul’s piano compositions were so challenging that occasionally he would have to step in for an overwhelmed performer.

Schoenfield was deeply introspective and private, often eschewing self-promotion or business details, thus making it difficult for performers to find his scores. However, his undeniable talent usually overcame his best efforts to avoid publicity or promotion.

Starting in the late 1980’s, Paul moved/traveled between the U.S. and Israel. He taught in Ohio at the Universities of Toledo and Akron, and finished his teaching career in 2021 as Professor of Composition at the University of Michigan. He then moved permanently to Jerusalem where he wrote little music, devoting himself to his beloved mathematics and Talmudic studies.

Schoenfield’s compositions drew from: jazz and popular music, folk song, klezmer, and Jewish chant, all informed by his mastery of the classical tradition. He wrote over 80 compositions spanning chamber music, opera, piano, and choir.




Paul Schoenfeld at the piano

Paul had multi-decade collaborations with several performers, composers, and artistic directors: Christopher Kendall, founder and conductor of 21st Century Consort commissioned a number of pieces by Schoenfield and performed his music over 25 times. Violinist, Young Nam Kim, and cellist, Peter Howard, played with Paul as youths at Marlborough, and recorded some of his works such as  Café Music with him. Kim also premiered and performed many of Paul’s works, including Carolina Reveille, on his Chamber Music Society of Minnesota concert series. Flutist Carol Wincenc, performed notable works such asand Slovakian Children’s Songs (the latter written for her). Good friends and members of the Cleveland Orchestra, Martha Aarons andLev Polyakin, recorded, Last Silence with pianist Frances Renzi.

Schoenfield’s catalog includes concertos for viola and cello as well as concertante works for piano (Four Parables), flute or clarinet (Klezmer Rondos), and piccolo trumpet (Vaudeville). Schoenfield had a flair for chamber music: his most performed and composition continues to be Café Music (1987), commissioned by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for violin, cello and piano. Schoenfield received commissions from dozens of prominent organizations and individuals across the world, including twelve commissions from longtime supporters Jack and Linda Hoeschler.



Schoenfield’s deep Jewish roots are expressed in many works including Camp Songs, a commission by Seattle’s Music of Remembrance which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2003. The Merchant and the Pauper, a two-act opera based on a tale by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, was commissioned by the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and received its premiere there in 1999.

As the first composer Opus Imprints signed and as the impetus for the creation of this music publishing company, we are particularly grateful to Paul and the Schoenfield family in trusting us to steward his musical legacy.


Paul Schoenfield at rehearsal