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  • Dr. Karl Carl Goldmark (1830 - 1915)
    Karl Goldmark, also known originally as Károly Goldmark (Hungarian: Goldmark Károly) and later sometimes as Carl Goldmark; May 18, 1830, Keszthely – January 2, 1915, Vienna) was a Hungarian composer....
  • Samuel Shalom Secunda (1894 - 1974)
    Sholom Secunda (4 September [O.S. 23 August] 1894, Aleksandriya, Russian Empire – 13 June[1] 1974, New York) was an American composer of Ukrainian-Jewish descent. Contents [show] Biography[edit] Th...
  • Sgt Abraham Veroba (1917 - 1996)
    Interview with Cantor Abraham (aka Abe) Veroba appearing in the “South Shore Record” on Thursday, July 27, 1995, Written by: Reporter Robert Snyder. “South Shore Record” article provided by: Stephen G...
  • Cantor Schmuel Malavsky (1894 - 1985)
  • Shlomo Hershman (1893 - 1971)

The importance of music in the life of the Jewish people is found almost at the beginning of Genesis. Musicians are mentioned among the three fundamental professions. Music was viewed as a necessity in everyday life, as a beautifying and enriching complement of human existence. Velvel Pasternak

This project is just beginning, and all participation is welcome, as are any edits, additions, reformatting and modifications.

Jewish Liturgical Music

Music and Song

“Serve the Lord with joy, and come before Him with singing,” wrote the psalmist. Music played a pivotal role in ancient Jewish observance.

Kabbalists wrote: ‘Access to certain temples can be achieved only through song.’

The Baal Shem Tov (1700-1760), founder of modern Chassidism, encouraged joyous singing as a way of celebrating God. Musicologists can tell whether a particular nigun comes from the Chassidim of, say, Vishnitz, Bobov, Ger or Lubavitch.

The first Lubavitch Rebbe explained: “Melody is the outpouring of the soul, but words interrupt the stream of emotion.”

As Chassidim travelled from one Chassidic court to another, tunes spread across Europe. The greatest centre of music was the tiny dynasty of Modzitz. The Modzizter Rabbi Israel Taub, Baal Divrei Israel (1848-1920) composed 200 nigunim. “Heimloz Nigun”, “Song of the Homeless”, was inspired by the devastation of war. “Ezk'ra Hagadol” (“The Great Ezk'ra”), evoking thoughts of Jerusalem, was composed by the rabbi while undergoing surgery in Berlin in 1913.

Rabbi Israel's son and successor, Saul Yedidya Elozor Taub, wrote some 700 compositions, many of them lengthy, intricate operatic works. From 1940 to 1947 he travelled across America and spread his tunes. Rabbi Saul's own son, Samuel Eliyahu Taub, immigrated to Palestine in 1935, adding about 400 new tunes to the growing Modzitzer repertoire.

Source adapted from Velvel Pasternak's essay “Song in Hassidic Life”

Temple Melodies

The history of religious Jewish music spans the evolution of cantorial, synagogal, and Temple melodies from Biblical to Modern times. The earliest synagogal music was based on the same system used in the Temple in Jerusalem. According to the Mishnah, the regular Temple orchestra consisted of twelve instruments, and a choir of twelve male singers

After the destruction of the Temple and the subsequent diaspora of the Jewish people, music was initially banned in Babylon and Persia. This law had an exception on Shabbat (i.e. the Sabbath), during which Jewish people were required to sing with their family, later, all restrictions were relaxed. As is recorded in Psalm 137; "Our tormentors [the Babylonians] asked of us, sings us one of the songs of Zion... How shall we sing the Lord's song...?."

Originally, It was with the piyyutim (liturgical poems)in which Jewish music began to crystallize into definite form. The cantor sang the piyyutim to melodies selected by their writer or by himself, thus introducing fixed melodies into synagogal music. The music may have preserved a few phrases in the reading of Scripture which recalled songs from the Temple itself (Ashkenazic Jews named this official tune 'trope';) but generally it echoes the tones and rhythms, in each country and in each age, in which Jews lived, not merely in the actual borrowing of tunes, but more in the tonality on which the local music was based.


A piyyut is a Jewish liturgical poem, usually designated to be sung, chanted, or recited during religious services. Piyyutim have been written since Mishnaic times. Most piyyutim are in Hebrew or Aramaic, and most follow some poetic scheme, such as an acrostic following the order of the Hebrew alphabet or spelling out the name of the author. The best-known piyyut may be Adon Olam ("Master of the World"), sometimes attributed to Solomon ibn Gabirol in 11th century Spain.


Nigun refers to religious songs and tunes that are sung by groups. It is a form of voice instrumental music, often without any lyrics or words. An example of well known nigun is Rebbe Nachman's Lecha Dodi Nigun which is a well-known song that all observant Jews sing on Friday night in Kabbalat Shabbat. There are a number of different tunes for the song, of which Rebbe Nachman's Lecha Dodi Nigun is one of the most well known.

Niggunim Examples by David Ariel

1. “Ha'neshomo loch” - Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach (from the Selichot service): “The soul is Yours, the body is Yours, have mercy on Your creation”

2. “Bnei Heichala” (Children of the Divine) - Niggun of the Baal Shem Tov (Besht, founder of Hasidism, d. 1760)

3. The Old Master's Song (Der Alter Rebbe's Nigun): The niggun of the first Lubavitcher Rebbe Shneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812)

4. Yehuda Green Singing Rebbe Nachman Of Breslov's Niggun (1772-1812)


Zemiros are Jewish hymns, usually sung in the Hebrew or Aramaic languages, but sometimes also in Yiddish or Ladino. The best known zemiros are those sung around the table during Shabbos and Jewish holidays. The words to many zemirot are taken from poems written by various rabbis and sages during the Middle Ages. Others are anonymous folk songs that have been passed down from generation to generation.


Pizmonim are traditional Jewish songs and melodies with the intentions of praising God as well as describing certain aspects of traditional religious teachings. Pizmonim are traditionally associated with Middle Eastern Sephardic Jews, although they are related to Ashkenazi Jews' zemirot and are sung during lifecycle events.

The best known tradition is associated with Jews descended from Aleppo, though similar traditions exist among Iraqi Jews (where the songs are known as shbaִhoth, praises) and in North African countries. Jews of Greek, Turkish and Balkan origin have songs of the same kind in Ladino, associated with the festivals: these are known as coplas.

The texts of many pizmonim date back to the Middle Ages or earlier, and are often based on verses in the Bible. Many are taken from the Tanakh, while others were composed by poets such as Yehuda Halevi and Israel Najara of Gaza. Some melodies are quite old, while others may be based on popular Middle Eastern music, with the words composed specially to fit the tune.


The Baqashot are a collection of supplications, songs, and prayers that have been sung for centuries by the Sephardic Aleppian Jewish community and other congregations every Shabbat morning from midnight until dawn.

Usually they are recited during the weeks of winter, when the nights are much longer. The custom of singing Baqashot originated in Spain towards the time of the expulsion, but took on increased momentum in the Kabbalistic circle in Safed in the 16th century. Baqashot probably evolved out of the tradition of saying petitionary prayers before dawn and was spread from Safed by the followers of Isaac Luria (16th century).

With the spread of Safed Kabbalistic doctrine, the singing of Baqashot reached countries all round the Mediterranean and became customary in the communities of Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Rhodes, Greece, Yugoslavia, Egypt, Turkey and Syria.

It also influenced the Kabbalistically oriented confraternities in 18th-century Italy, and even became customary for a time in Sephardic communities in western Europe, such as Amsterdam and London, though in these communities it has since been dropped. By the turn of the 20th century Baqashot had become a widespread religious practice in several communities in Jerusalem as a communal form of prayer.

Jewish prayer modes

Jewish liturgical music is characterized by a set of musical modes. These modes make up musical nusach, which serves to both identify different types of prayer, as well as to link those prayers to the time of year, or even time of day in which they are set.

There are three main modes, as well as a number of combined or compound modes. The three main modes are called Ahavah Rabbah, Magein Avot and Adonai Malach. Traditionally, the Cantor (Hazzan) improvised sung prayers within the designated mode, while following a general structure of how each prayer should sound. Over time many of these chants have been written down and standardized, yet the practice of improvisation still exists to this day.


Early Musical Luminaries

  1. Solomon Ibn Gabirol
  2. Eleazar Kalir
  3. Yehuda HaLevi
  4. Moses Ibn Ezra
  5. David HaKohen
  6. Salamone Rossi or Salomone Rossi

Jewish Composers

  1. Louis Lewandowski
  2. Naomi Shemer
  3. David Saltiel Oriente Musik: Jewish - Spanish Songs from Thessaloniki
  4. Chazzanut Biography
  5. Abraham Zevi Idelsohn אַבְרָהָם צְבִי אידלסון
  6. Velvel Pasternak
  7. Shmuel Schenderovitch /Taraf Degrief, The Spanish Synagogue, Prague
  8. Fiory Jagoda, (Bosnia and Herzegovina) , Fiory Jagoda
  9. Cantor Dr. Ramón Tasat Echoes of Sepharad
  10. Admor Isaac Taub, 1st Kaliver Rebbe
  11. Shlomo Carlebach שלמה קרליבך‎
  12. Debbie Friedman

Music and the Holocaust

  1. Yehoshua Wieder


Chazzanut / Cantors

  1. Mischa Alexandrovich
  2. Samuel Alman
  3. Israel Alter
  4. Zvi Aroni
  5. Avraham Moshe Bernstein
  6. Abraham Birnbaum
  7. Gershon Boyars
  8. Leo Bryll
  9. Berele Chagy
  10. Francis Lyon Cohen
  11. Philip Copperman
  12. David M Davis
  13. Kalman Fausner
  14. Pinchas Faigenblum
  15. Emanuel Feldinger
  16. Emanuel Frankl
  17. Aaron Fuchsman
  18. Moshe Ganchoff
  19. Aryeh Garbacz
  20. Eliezer Gerovitch
  21. Yechiel Gildin
  22. Leib Glantz
  23. Yitzchak Glickstein
  24. Johnny Gluck
  25. Jacob Gottlieb
  26. Berl Gottlieb
  27. Marcus Hast
  28. Mordecai Hershman
  29. Shlomo Hershman
  30. Isaac Icht
  31. Solomon Kashtan
  32. Morris Katanka
  33. Adolph Katchko
  34. Ben-Zion Kapov-Kagan
  35. Moshe Korn
  36. Usher Korn
  37. David Kussevitsky
  38. Jacob Kussevitsky
  39. Moshe Kussevitsky
  40. Simcha Kussevitsky
  41. Zevulun Kwartin
  42. David Levine
  43. Louis Lewandowski
  44. Yoel Dovid Lowenstein
  45. Charles Lowy
  46. Herman Mayerowitsch
  47. Chaim Shmuel Milch
  48. Yehudah Leib Miller
  49. Pinchas Minkovsky
  50. Julius Lazarus Mombach
  51. Solomon Hirsh Morris
  52. Benzion Moskovits
  53. Harris Newman
  54. David Nowakowsky
  55. Moishe Oysher
  56. Jan Peerce
  57. Pierre Pinchik
  58. Salomo Pinkasovitch
  59. Moshe Preis
  60. Shlomo Rawitz
  61. Jacob Rivlis
  62. Baruch Leib Rosowsky
  63. David Roitman
  64. Ephraim Fishel Rosenberg
  65. Yossele Rosenblatt
  66. Zeidel Rovner
  67. Joseph Schmidt
  68. Israel Schorr
  69. Jacob Sherman
  70. Joseph Shlisky
  71. Lewis Shoot
  72. Bezalel Shulsinger
  73. Gershon Sirota
  74. Boruch Smus
  75. Solomon Stern
  76. Salomon Sulzer
  77. Richard Tucker
  78. Samuel Vigoda
  79. Leibele Waldman
  80. Hirsch Weintraub
  81. Yehoshua Wieder
  82. Abba Yosef Weisgal
  83. Noach Zaludkowski

See website for links to biographies: Source


  1. Albert Mizrahi
  2. Elias Rosemberg , YouTube , The Jewish ArgenTenors
  3. European Cantors Association
  4. Naftali Herstik
  5. Benzion Miller
  6. Chaim Adler
  7. Daniel Halfon
  8. Cantor Moshe Murray Bazian
  9. Marcelo Bruckman
  10. Sylvain Elzam
  11. Cantor Elihu Feldman
  12. Alberto Mizrachi
  13. Benjamin Muller
  14. David Propis
  15. Cantor Dr. Ramon Tasat

Notable Chassidic Composers

Notable Syrian Cantors

The following were or are well-known cantors in the Syrian Jewish communities of Israel and the United States.

  • • Moshe Ashear
  • • Hayim Shaul Aboud
  • • Gabriel Shrem
  • • Nissim Franco
  • • Raphael Yair Elnadav
  • • Yosef Elnadav
  • • Meir Levy
  • • Yehiel Nahari
  • • Edward Farhi
  • • Yehezkel Zion
  • • David Shiro
  • • Yair Hamra
  • • Jack Salama
  • • Charles Saka

Contemporary Jewish Music

  1. John Zorn, Tzadik Records
  2. Mayisyahu / Mathew Paul Miller
  3. Avraham Fried
  4. Lipa Schmeltzer
  5. Mordechai Ben David
  6. Shloime Dachs
  7. Yaakov Shwekey


  1. Traditional Legendary Cantors
  2. Cantors Yivo Encyclopedia
  3. Evolution from Chazzan to Cantor The Reform Jewish Caontorate during the 19th Century
  4. Giacomo Meyerbeer
  5. Dutch Chazzanut
  6. Greatest Cantorial Voices
  7. Nine Luminaries Of Jewish Liturgical Song
  8. Syrian Cantors
  9. Chazzanut Archives
  10. Cantorial Music
  11. Chazzanut Biographies
  12. Hazzan - Wikipedia
  13. Cantor's Assembly Cantor's Assembly
  14. Chazzanut Articles
  15. Jewish Music Biographies
  16. Chazzanut Links
  17. Cantorial Music Center Website
  18. Kol Nidrei Moroccan Version
  19. Avinu Malkenu Moroccan Version


Jewish Music

  1. Music and Synagogues around the World
  2. Jewish Music Wikipedia
  3. Jewish Music Web Center
  4. Jewry in Music
  5. History of Religious Jewish Music
  6. Synagogal Music Wikipedia
  7. Jewish Music Wikipedia
  8. Jewry in Music?
  9. London Jewish Music Institute
  10. Europäisches Zentrum für jüdische Musik
  11. The German Klezmer website.
  12. The Music You Won’t Hear on Rosh Hashana
  13. History of Russian Society for Jewish Music
  14. Jewish Music or Music of the Jewish People?
  15. Religious Jewish Music Wikipedia
  16. Music in Kabbalah
  17. CHASSIDIC MUSIC from an Ethnomusicological Perspective
  18. Jewish Music
  19. Hebrew Music Sites
  20. Kinnor - Harp of David
  21. Music of the Bible Revealed
  22. Jewish Liturgical Music
  23. The Jewish National and University Library
  24. Bibligraphy of Sephardic Music
  25. Yiddish Songs A-Z
  26. Zemirot , Zemirot Database
  27. Traditional Sephardi Zemirot
  28. Jewish Music Heritage Project
  29. Jewish Liturgics: Chant Development