Koussevitzky is regarded generally as the Chazan's Chazan. He was
possessed of an outstanding, well-trained, tenor voice of
extraordinary range and flexibility and an innate understanding of
the art of Chazanut.
Moshe was born on June 9th 1899 at Smargon in Vilna,
Lithuania and came from a background of Chazanut. Moshe was the
oldest of the four brothers, with Jacob, Simcha and David and, as is
well-known, they all went on to become famous Chazanim in their own
Moshe began his career at the age of eight as an alto in
the choir of Chazan Shlepak and as he grew up he toyed with the idea
of becoming an artist or a sculptor. Fortunately, however, he
accepted a position as Chazzan at the Vilna 'Savel's Shul' and in
1927 he auditioned for the plum position in Poland at the 'Tlomazke
Shul' in Warsaw where, against the finest opposition, he was awarded
the post. He took the opportunity to study voice and music and
throughout his life he always learned Torah.
Being in such an illustrious job, his fame spread around
Europe very rapidly and soon he was travelling to Brussels, Antwerp,
Vienna and London to give concerts.
During the second world war Moshe took his family to
Russia and adopted the name Mikhail Kussevitsky. While he was there
he sang in the operas Boris Goudenov, Tosca and Rigoletto.
When he returned to Poland he gave a concert at which
the ambassadors of the United Kingdom and the United States were in
the audience. As a result of this concert he obtained visas for both
countries and came to England until 1947, when he went to settle in
continued to travel and concertize all over the world
and there will probably be people reading this who will
recall his appearance at the Royal Albert Hall, London,
on 13th March 1955. Fortunately he also made numerous
recordings and, even though they were produced on
comparatively primitive equipment, it is still possible
to appreciate the exceptional quality of his voice and
his singing on those that have been re-recorded today.
The last post he held was at the famous Temple Beth El
in Boro Park, Brooklyn.
Moshe died on August 23rd 1966 and is buried in