Rumshinsky [Rumshisky], Joseph
- Henry Sapoznik
(b Vilna, Lithuania, 1881; d New York, NY, Feb 5, 1956). Yiddish music theater composer and conductor of Lithuanian birth, active in the United States. One of the founders of the American Yiddish musical stage, he was a child prodigy cantorial meshoyrer (apprentice) and by the age of 17 had conducted his first Yiddish theater production. He moved to America in 1904 to avoid conscription into the army and struggled for his first few years. After being invited to New York by the theater impresario and star Boris Thomashefsky in 1908, Rumshinsky, with his deep love of traditional Jewish music, helped upgrade the structure of Yiddish musical theater from a series of vaudeville-type skits linked by songs into a true operetta form in the mold of his contemporaries Franz Lehár and Victor Herbert. A difficult taskmaster, Rumshinsky demanded a level of precision from his theater pit musicians more usually associated with classical orchestras. His first solo production, ...