Lewandowski – Eine Huldigungskantate

I. Ouverture
II. Tow l’hodoss (Kantor & Chor)

Lewandowski − Der Osteuropäer

III. Ki k´schimcho (Kantor & Chor)

Lewandowski − Ein junger weltlicher Komponist

IV. In deinem Arm (Sopran)
V. Wiegenlied (Sopran)

Lewandowski − Erneuerer und Chorleiter

VI. Zaddik kattomor (Chor)
VII. Psalm 144 & 67 (Kantor & Chor)
VIII. Psalm 21 (Kantor & Chor)

Lewandowski − Ehemann und Vater

IX. Segne, Allmächtiger, segne dieses Paar (Chor)
X. Zu dir, o Herr (Chor)

Lewandowski − Der Reformer

XI. W‘hakkohanim (Kantor & Chor)
XII. Deutsche Keduscha

Lewandowski − Für die Ewigkeit

XIII. Enosch (Chor)
XIV. Psalm 121 (Kantor & Chor)

Lewandowski − The Eastern European

Louis Lewandowski was born on the 1st of Nissan in the year 5581, as Eliezer, in Wreschen, in the province of Posen. This Jewish community was once one of the largest in southern Prussia, but was severely decimated during the persecutions of the 17th century. At the time of Lewandowski, half of the more than 1200 inhabitants were Jews; they spoke Yiddish and followed their Eastern European traditions. Lewandowski grew up in humble circumstances, his mother Malka died early, his father Abraham (1778−?) was a court translator, but also a rabbinical assessor and prayer leader on certain holidays; of his brothers, Hermann (1816−1890) and Jakob (1811−1890) were to become cantors in Hamburg and Halle. Lewandowski’s first musical instruction was as a meschorer, one of two assistant singers accompanying the cantor.

Let us now listen to one of the few compositions by Louis Lewandowski that he wrote in the style of Eastern European synagogue music, “Ki k’shimcho.”

Lewandowski − A Young Secular Composer

Like many other poverty-stricken Eastern Jews, Lewandowski migrated to the Prussian capital of Berlin in 1833, at the age of 12. He attended school there and served as a meshorer under Cantor Ascher Lion in the Heidereutergasse synagogue. Lewandowski showed great musical talent. He played the violin and piano and learned the basics of European art music. With the help of Alexander Mendelssohn, a grandson of the great philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, he became the first Jew to enroll as a student at the Academy of Arts. During this period, he began composing secular chamber music, most of which, unfortunately, is still lost. He even received a composition prize for a cantata composed during this period; and his symphony was performed at the Sing-Akademie under his baton.

Let us now listen to two songs from his Opus 1.

Lewandowski − Innovator and Choir Director

In 1840 the Berlin Jewish community hired Lewandowski as choirmaster of a newly established four-part men’s choir at the Heidereutergasse synagogue—an opportunity to merge the music of the synagogue with the contemporary style of Romanticism. For this, Lewandowski drew inspiration from Salomon Sulzer in Vienna. However, his innovations were hardly accepted by Cantor Ascher Lion. Lewandowski initially based his compositions on the liturgical tradition of the Old Synagogue and also on the Eastern European melodies that Cantor Abraham Lichtenstein, who was hired in 1845, brought from Szczecin.

Let us now listen to “Zaddik kattomor” as well as some psalm settings [144, 67, 21].

Lewandowski − Husband and Father

In 1859 Lewandowski married Helene Wertheim (18291894), who was endowed with a beautiful voice and musically talented. The marriage produced two children: Alfred (18641931), who became a doctor and established the Hygiea Sanatorium in Berlin, and was also an excellent violinist; and Martha (18601942), who at the age of 16 married her tutor, who was many years her senior. This was the philosopher Hermann Cohen, founder of the “Marburg School” of Neo-Kantianism and a passionate advocate of a German-Jewish symbiosis.

Louis Lewandowski wrote three wedding musics for choir. Let us now listen to excerpts from one of them.


Lewandowski − The Reformer

From the 1860s on, Lewandowski’s professional life was closely linked to the large, magnificent New Synagogue on Oranienburgerstraße, a building that was supposed to represent a self-confident Jewish bourgeoisie. Here, a liturgy developed in which prayers were also said in German and a mixed choir and an organ integrated. The introduction of the instrument was hotly debated and Lewandowski participated in the decision-making process in 1862. In his expert opinion, he argued for the organ as the best possible support for the newly introduced congregational and choral singing, reasoning that the organ alone was capable of “controlling and directing large crowds in large spaces.” The dedication of the New Synagogue in 1866 also marked the inauguration of one of the largest organs in Berlin at the time. Lewandowski wrote several organ works and otherwise incorporated the organ into the liturgy. For the central prayer of the highest Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur, he set a prayer in which the organ plays the traditional prayer, nusach, normally sung by the cantor.

Let us now listen to W’hakkohanim followed by the German Kedushah, also sung on Yom Kippur.

Lewandowski − For Eternity

The two major collections Kol Rinnah u’T’fillah (Voice of Worship and Prayer, 1871) and the two-volume Todah W’simrah (Thanksgiving and Song, published in 1876 and 1882), contain Lewandowski’s music for all prayers on the Sabbath and holidays. Around the same time, he conceived a series of patriotic works. Lewandowski was not only a composer, but also trained cantors, a voice teacher, and conductor of the United Synagogue Choirs of Berlin. His commitment to the music of the synagogues of Berlin and Germany, as well as to the art of music in general, were recognized with the honorary titles of Royal Director of Music as well as the title of “Professor” by the Academy of Arts.

»Love makes the song immortal!« is written on the tombstone that the children had placed for their “beloved parents” in the honorary row of the cemetery of the Jewish community in Berlin-Weißensee. There is certainly no more fitting summary for Lewandowski’s work. This was already recognized during his lifetime and put to the following words by Leopold Zunz, the founder of the Science of Judaism, in honor of Lewandowski’s 25th anniversary in office, in 1865:

»Just as music presupposes receptivity and hymns imply belief, worship similarly requires faith and love. Song becomes a mediator between poet and audience, as worship remains a mediator between the outgoing and incoming generations… To receive meaning for ourselves and our people from the house of God, we must acquire some memory and knowledge, sentiments and love. This will be the right tribute to the man, whose compositions arouse serious stirrings within us, emotions that will also create serious intentions.«

In conclusion, you will now hear the piece “Enosh” with verses from Psalm 103, part of the commemoration of the dead, one of Lewandowski’s most famous pieces, as well as the setting of Psalm 121, with which we would like to bless you.