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Eliyahu Schleifer

(b Kiev, June 1, 1898; d Tel-Aviv, Jan 27, 1964). Israeli cantor and composer of Ukrainian birth. Born into a family of cantors (both of his grandfathers were cantors, as was his father), he made his cantorial début in Kiev at the age of eight. At the age of 14 he became the choir director at his father's synagogue, where he helped to introduce the 19th-century polyphonic repertory. He studied the piano and theory at the Totovsky Conservatory and later counterpoint and composition with Glière. In 1920 he moved to Chişinău, now in Moldova, where he served as cantor and continued his studies with Abraham Berkowitsch (known as Kalechnik), an authority on cantorial recitatives. After emigrating to the USA in 1926 he served as cantor for congregations in New York and Los Angeles. His extensive recordings with Asch and RCA Victor made him famous in Ashkenazi Jewish communities. In ...

Article

Gudrun Engberg

revised by Alexander Lingas

(b Emesa [now Homs], Syria, late 5th century; d Constantinople, after 555). Byzantine hymnographer and composer. Perhaps of Jewish descent, he was a deacon in the Church of the Resurrection in Beirut and towards the end of the 5th century went to Constantinople, where he served at the Church of the Virgin in the city’s Kyros quarter. A hymn in Romanos’s honour mentions his acquaintance with the imperial court. He may have become famous during his lifetime, since an almost contemporary papyrus fragment containing part of a well-known hymn by him has been found in Egypt. It is, however, uncertain whether he was the ‘presbyteros’ and ‘ekklēsiekdikos’ mentioned in the acts of the Synod of 536. He was canonized and is commemorated by the Eastern Orthodox Church on 1 October as the patron saint of music.

Romanos’s vita is lost, but summaries are transmitted in Byzantine synaxaria and menologia, according to which Romanos was inspired by the Virgin to write ...