Biographies of Sulzer & Lewandowski
Salomon Sulzer (1804-1890) and Louis Lewandowski (1821-1894)
were undoubtedly the most
prolific and important composers of synagogue music in the nineteenth century.
Today their compositions are sung in synagogues in this country, in
Israel, and wherever Jewish congregations observe the Sabbath and the Holy Days.
Sulzer was born in Hohenems, Austria.
His family moved to that town from Sulz, where their name was Levi. Sulzer
studied with several German, Austrian, and Swiss cantors until he was appointed
cantor in his hometown. There he introduced the choir. He published a book of
Jewish music, including songs for the Sabbath, Holy Days, weddings and funerals.
His important book “Zwanzig Gesänge für
den Israelitischen Gottesdienst” (Twenty songs for the Israelitic divine
service) was published after his death. Sulzer also sang and composed non Jewish
music and was known as a interpreter of the Austrian composer Schubert. He was
appointed professor at the Imperial Conservatory of Music in Vienna and was
honored by emperor Francis Joseph as a knight of the Order of Francis Joseph I.
He was also inducted into Academia Nationale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. Today
there are recordings by the Vienna Boys Choir, by no means Jewish, of his
“Lecho Dodi,” “Adon Olam,” “Etz Chaim,” and many others, all sung in
Lewandowski was born in Poznan, which was located in Poland at some times and in Germany at other times depending on the latest war. His career began at the age of twelve, when he was appointed a singer in a Berlin synagogue. Then, in 1844, he was invited to organize a choir, also at a Berlin synagogue, thereby becoming the first synagogue choir master anywhere. Twenty years later he was appointed choir master and chazzan at the New Synagogue in Berlin, where he published two books of music called “Kol Rinah” and “Todah Vezimrah.” These books contain music sung to this day. He taught at the Jewish Teachers Seminary and founded the Institute for Aged and Indigent Musicians. He was honored by the German government with the title of Royal Musical Director.
numerous compositions include “Tzadik Katomar Yiroch” sung every Friday
night in all synagogues and so many others that we cannot list them here.
Today, both of these musical giants
are revived, as they can be heard on the internet, but also on any Sabbath in
the “shul” of your choice.