from the german town Kassel, was not only a well known grammarian, who used new teaching methods in his numerous Hebrew teaching and grammar books but also he directed the choir of the orthodox community in Frankfurt am Main from 1852 to 1892. As with Sulzer and Lewandowski the reform movement also had an effect on his compositions and in his teaching. Japhet practiced choral singing in his synagogue, since he believed that a choir could revive the synagogue prayer service.
His compositions have been praised for their melodious simplicity and uncomplicated classical harmony.
The songs appear easy to sing because so many of them were based on existing synagogue songs which seemed like folk songs to the audience. Japhet‘s work was also so highly valued by a wider public that the introduction of the to his composition „Schire Jeschurun“, a collection of 101 synagogue melodies, gained recommondations by renowned composers such as Giacomo Meyerbeer and Louis Spohr.


Löwenstein‘s successor as head cantor, son of a baker from Upper Silesia, who already sang as a teenager in the synagogue choir, studied at the teacher‘s seminar of the Berliner Gemeinde and sang in Lewandowski‘s choir at the New Synagogue Oranienburger Straße until he moved to Munich. He was Head Cantor at the Westenriederstrasse Synagogue, then 1887 at the newly built main synagogue at Herzog-Max- Strasse in Munich. Also, Kirschner performed as a soloist with songs by Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn and Wagner. In 1893, due of his outstanding skills as singer he was appointed as professor for solo singing at the royal academy of the music.

Above all, however, he was cantor and composer. His most famous works are the „Trauungsgesänge“ for cantor, choir and organ from 1883 and the four volumes of songs for cantor and organ „Tehilloth le-El Eljon“, with more than 100 compositions published between 1897 and 1926. The musicologist Abraham Zvi Idelsohn lauded at the time: „The greatest among the living composers of synagogue music in Germany is currently Emanuel Kirschner – Cantor and musical guide in Munich. Filled with genuine jewish spirit, with a fine understanding of music and educated in classical and religious music, he strived his whole life, to refine the style of the synagogue music without sacrificing it ́s genuine jewish character.”

When on June 8, 1938 the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde in Munich was told that the synagogue on Herzog-Max-Strasse would be demolished the following day, the congregation asked the old Kirschner to recite the chant in the farewell service for the last time. He himself wrote a little later: „When I climbed the stairs to the Almemor, broken hearted, when I humbly, but nevertheless with a clear voice, sang the „T‘philloh l‘oni ki jaatof“ (A prayer of the wretched, saddened pouring out his lament before the Eternal), the words, flowing out of my heart stirred deep emotions in the congregation filling the synagogue, I thanked my Creator, who had strengthend my resistance

Emanuel Kirschner died three months after the barbarous demolition of the main synagogue in the jewish retirement home in Munich.

HUGO ADLER (1894-1955),

influenced the music liturgy in another southern German community. In his youth he had sung in the choir of the famous cantor Yossele Rosenblatt in Hamburg, then studied music in Cologne and in 1921 he finally took up a position as cantor at the main synagogue in Mannheim. Adler also taught music and religion here.

Adler composed; among other things he set to music there translations of Franz Rosenzweig Hebrew poetry, introduced domestic chants to the liturgy of public worship and conducted various choirs and instrumental ensembles in the synagogue. Also he was tenor in the „Feiertags-Chor“ and in the men‘s choir „Liederkranz“ and studied Composition at the Mannheim Conservatory with Ernst Toch. His teaching cantata „Licht und Volk“ for singing and speaking choir and instruments 1930 and the biblical scene „Balak and Bilam“ premiered in Mannheim in 1934.

After 1933, Adler‘s works could only be performed in synagogues and within the framework of the jewish Cultural Association. His last piece composed in Germany was the cantata “Akedah“. It was premiered in Stuttgart on 9 November 1938. During the rehearsals, there was an attack by Nazis, who also destroyed Adler‘s scores (only one piano score remained).

On November 10, 1938, the day after the deposition of „Akedah“ and the destruction of the Mannheim synagogue, Adler tried to flee to the Netherlands. He was picked up at the border and arrested. After his dismissal, he emigrated to the USA via the Netherlands at the end of 1938. In 1939 he became cantor at the Temple Emanuel in Worcester, a reform community that cultivated a pronounced music program, to which Adler now also contributed. He again conducted various choirs and organized the Annual jewish Music Festival for many years. His compositions, including the cantata „Jonah“, the Sabbath service „Nachalath Israel“ and new versions of his own works, were also performed there.


coming from Moravia, Löwenstamm studied in Vienna with Salomon Sulzer. He was appointed as Head Cantor in Munich in 1847 after employments in Orag and Pest.
Löwenstamm performed many of his own compositions with the choir, for instance a cantata for the 50th anniversary of the Munich Synagogue in 1876.

How much Jews at that time tried to not only to remain faithful to their religion and their tradi- tion, but also aspire to become part of the society, illustrates this little „Footnote“: Head Cantor Löwenstamm created, on the occasion of the 1867 engagement of Ludwig to his cousin Sophie Charlotte, a self-published collection of Hebrew songs to glorify the King‘s planned wedding: „Jubilee sounds for the wedding ceremony of His Majesty Ludwig the Second, King of Bavaria, with Her Royal Highness the Princess Sofie Charlotte Auguste, Duchess of Bavaria”. However, the engagement was canceled October 7, 1867 and the jubilee sounds ceased. But at least the printed edition be- came a rare collectable.

In Southern Germany, within the next generations, composers such as Emanuel Kirschner, Heinrich Schalit and Hugo Adler, redirected synagogal music into a whole new direction.


born in Vienna, he was music director and organist after Kirschner at the Munich Synagogue. In 1927 he applied for this position with his „Seelenlieder“ for voice and piano as well as the hymn „In Ewigkeit“ for choir, organ, harp and violin. Both are based on texts by the medieval poet Judah ha-Levi, translated into German by Franz Rosenzweig.

Schalit revived the music of Lewandowski and Sulzer (which in his opinion sounded too romantic, too harmonic, too operatic for the 20th century) and integrated modern elements – controlled dissonances and a dense choral and orchestral composition reminiscent of Schönberg – as well as authentic jewish oriental melodies into his compositions.

His major work, the groundbreaking Friday evening liturgy for cantor, monophonic mixed choir and organ (Opus 29), premiered in Berlin in 1932. One year later Schalit emigrated to the USA.

JAKOB SCHÖNBERG (1900-1956),

born in Fürth, was the son of a cantor. After his university studies in Darmstadt, Berlin and his his PhD dissertation “Die traditionellen Gesänge des Israelitischen Gottesdienstes in Deutschland / The traditional songs of Israelite worship in Germany” in Erlangen, Schönberg earned his living in the 1920s as a music critic for the Nürnberger Zeitung, as a film composer as well as a musical advisor to the Bayerischer Rundfunk (Bavarian radio). The “Prelude Symphonique” (1923), his first orchestral work, it was already characterized by a melodic oriental style, which he will further develop in later years in search of a decidedly Jewish style.

In 1933, Jakob Schönberg was expelled from his employment and moved to Berlin to work as a music critic for the Jüdische Rundschau (Jewish Review).
Musically, he was now intensively occupied with Jewish musical folklore in Palestine, which is reflected in his compositions. His collection of 230 Hebrew songs “Schirej Erez Israel”, published in 1935 by Jüdischer Verlag (Jewish Publishing House), Berlin, was successful. Between 1936 and 1938, the Jewish Cultural Alliances in Berlin and Frankfurt/Main had several performances of the orchestral version of the “Hasidic Suite”, which was actually composed for piano, several times. His arrangements of Palestinian folk songs, which Schönberg called “Neue jüdische Kammermusik” (New Jewish Chamber Music), are characterized by a minimalistic means of expression, for example when pieces are set for singing accompanied by flute and viola.

Jakob Schönberg emigrated to England in 1939 and to New York City in 1948. Schönberg taught at the Trinity School in New York and later at the Carnegie School of Music in Engle- wood. After decades of oblivion, a double CD with his songs and chamber music compositions was released in 2012.


The composer Paul Ben-Haim (1897-1984) was born as Paul Frankenburger in the city of Munich, the capital city of Bavaria, where he became an active and quite successful composer after World War I. In a dialogue between him and his biographer, Prof. Jehoash Hirschberg, Ben-Haim described the jewish community in Munich as a large and culturally active community. From his description, as well as those of many historians who researched the history of German Jewry in modern times, the Jews in Bavaria, like most German Jews of that time, were partly assimilated, although quite a few sought to preserve their jewish identity.

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