Alois Kaiser (1840-1908), a Hungarian-born composer and cantor, sang as a boy in the choir of the famous Viennese hazzan and moderate reformer Solomon Sulzer (1804-1890) and subsequently studied at the city’s Realschule and its Teachers’ Seminary and Conservatory of Music. Having served two congregations in a Viennese suburb and in Prague, Kaiser immigrated to New York in June 1866 and was soon appointed cantor of the Oheb Shalom Congregation in Baltimore, MD, where he remained until the end of his life. Throughout his career, he strove to update traditional melodies to modern modes, adapting the age-old music of Western Ashkenaz to its new American surroundings. His published work includes a four-volume coedited compilation of music for Sabbaths and festivals (1873-1886), the musical portion of the Central Conference of American Rabbis’ Union Hymnal (1897), and several smaller compositions for confirmation ceremonies (1873), the yizkor service on Yom Kippur (1879), and other occasions.
The present lot includes both the musical notation and Hebrew words (transliterated into Latin characters) of Kaiser’s cantata for the festival of Simhat Torah. The text of the songs, which have also been translated into rhymed English, is taken from the Avodat yisra’el liturgy compiled by Benjamin Szold (1829-1902), longtime rabbi of Oheb Shalom (see the Hebrew-English edition of 1885).
Neil W. Levin, “Alois Kaiser, 1840-1908,” Milken Archive of Jewish Music: The American Experience (http://www.milkenarchive.org/artists/view/alois-kaiser/).
Robert Singerman, Judaica Americana: A Bibliography of Publications to 1900, vol. 1 (New York: Greenwood Press, 1990), 631-632 (no. 3819).
Benjamin Szold, Marcus Jastrow, and Henry Hochheimer, Avodat yisra’el: Israelitish Prayer Book, for All the Public Services of the Year, vol. 1 (Philadelphia: Marcus Jastrow, 1885), 96.
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