personal data

Rypinski Elsa

Birth Name
First Name
Date of Birth
Place of birth
Bad Kissingen
Other family members

Parents: Karl and Karoline (Lina) Buchbinder née May
Siblings: Rosa, Hilde, Olga
Spouse: Philipp Rypinski
Children: Traude m. Golomb and Inge m. Taylor

Musician / music teacher (harpist, singer, pianist, organist) conductor

March 1938 emigrated to the USA

Date of death
March 1981
Place of death
New York


Elsa Rypinski was born in Bad Kissingen on August 2, 1891. She grew up in Bad Kissingen and Würzburg in the family of the musicians Karl and Karoline Buchbinder with two younger sisters. She got her musical training as a harpist, singer and pianist presumably at Würzburg Conservatory (Department of Music, Würzburg University). In 1913, she married the German-Russian conductor and composer Philipp Rypinski in the region where her father came from, Bohemia. In 1914, their first daughter Traude was born in Würzburg; in 1921, the second daughter Ingeborg was born in Heilbronn.

During or shortly before World War I, Rypinski had changed to Heilbronn Stadttheater (Municipal Theatre of Heilbronn). In the Opera House in Heilbronner Allee he was particularly successful with operettas such as “Fledermaus”, “Zirkusprinzessin” and “Bettelstudent” but also with Verdi operas or George Bizet’s “Carmen”. Rypinski was also a composer himself. Among others, he wrote an opus for choir and orchestra with the title “Drei Wanderer”, the balladlike “Galan Tod” (about 1910) for violin, baritone and piano, the opera “Die Brautnacht” (1920), the symphony-like opus “Lieder der Nacht”, a “Spanish Dance” and “Das Leben ein Traum” for soprano, tenor, choir and grand orchestra. Rypinski was the conductor of Heilbronn Stadttheater for more than 10 years. In the 1920s, he brought about the first great successes of the young theater that had been inaugurated in 1913. Together with him his wife, Elsa Rypinski, a virtuoso harpist, also became a member of the Heilbronn ensemble. Occasionally, she also took over singing parts or accompanied singers on the piano. Her two daughters were also introduced to music and were given small parts in productions of operas and operettas.

As they were Jews, Elsa and her husband were dismissed from their posts in Heilbronn in 1933. When the National Socialists seized power in 1933, the career of the Philipp Rypinski ended abruptly. In a letter of the contemporary witness Thekla Sänger can be read: “Conductor Rypinski was to conduct a charity event on behalf of “Winterhilfe”. When he raised his baton, a horde of Nazis entered the orchestra and got him out. Both (he and his wife) are now unemployed as both of them are not allowed to enter the theater again. Else is also not allowed to go to Wildbad where the orchestra plays in the summer. In spite of the fact that Eschrich (the orchestra’s director of music) says that he doesn’t know how to make do in Wildbad without Else”.

Rypinski’s dismissal caused the family big economic problems. Elsa’s husband tried to cover the livelihood of the family as a travelling salesman of linen and toiletry, which only just enabled them to get by. With the support of the Jewish community, Elsa was able to add to the family’s budget by playing the organ in the synagogue.

Due to the increasingly bad situation of the family emigration remained as the only solution. The first one to leave was their daughter Traude who had been denied graduating from ‘Höhere Töchterschule’ (secondary school for girls) because of her Jewish descent. In Summer 1936, she first emigrated to Palestine and in 1940, she followed her parents to New York.

In March 1939, Elsa Rypinski, her husband, her older daughter Traude and her mother Karoline succeeded in emigrating to America where they settled in New York. Her sister Rosa was already living there. 

In 1943, Philipp Rypinski died under dire circumstances in New York’s district of Bronx. His wife Elsa wrote about it: “My husband couldn’t gain a foothold here. Homesickness seems to have sent him into an early grave.” 

Elsa Rypinski obviously worked as a musician again, as an organ-player and conductress. She died in 1981 in her 90th year of life; as her last place of residence the residential district of Jamaica, Queens/ New York is stated.

467_Elsa Rypinski im Heilbronner Ensemble
Elsa Rypinski in the Heilbronn Ensemble

Elsa's husband - the composer and conductor Philipp Rypinski


Photo credits

Passfoto © Datenbank Findmypast, US Naturalization Petition, Elsa Rypinskiexterner Link
weitere Fotos © Stadtarchiv Heilbronn