Prof. Horowitz's "Yehuda
hagilili", oder, "Der prints fun beit-lkm" [also "Di
ekdh, oder, prints fun beit-lkm], was advertised as a
biblical opera [!] in 4 acts and 12 scenes, music by
Mogulesko and Friedsell" (25 September 1893 in the
About that type of music, M.
Zeifert in his history of Yiddish theatre [writes]:
"This historical (?) play, meaning, historical opera
(!!)...on the poster is explicitly, 'Music composed by
the great composer Mogulesko, or Friedsell, or Sandler,
or Rusota', which appears when we come to see and hear
the play? One of the two: 'Entveder [or] the genius
composer', had taken the music from an earlier play and
had it tshekes-tsugeshlogn to the play, the
entire overture of 'Cavalleria rusticana', or from 'Zhirafle-zhirafla',
or completely from 'Ernani', 'Aida", 'Troubadore', 'Rigoletto',
In 1897 in Philadelphia,
there was staged with F.'s music Y. Zolotarefsky's play
"Der yidisher hamlet" by Boris Thomashefsky, under the
name "Di shvarts khupe, oder, Der yidishe martirer",
which later became popular in the Yiddish theatre world
under the name "Der yeshiva bukher".
About F.'s music for the
play, Joseph Rumshinsky writes:
"If Louis Friedsell wants to
write nothing but only the prelude for Kiddush ['Kiddish']
for 'Yeshiva bukher', he earned the name that he had
had. The eight texts, which were performed with viola
and clarinet, had all the time -- and still to this day
-- mikh -- introduced in an atmosphere of death, but
without fear, without eternal peace (ruikeyt)."
And Sholem Perlmutter
The Kadish' was the crown of
his creations. Already in the introduction to this
composition, one feels the fear of death....the
troyer tener from "Baruch dayn amt" [from 'Yeshiva
bukher'] was only until today considered for a Yiddish
In the same year in the
Windsor Theatre, there was staged with F.'s music
Zolotarefsky's lebensbild "Der yidisher muzhik,
oder, Di dorfs-yidn", and in the 1899-1900 season --
Lateiner's "400 Years" in the People's Theatre.
According to Boaz Young in
his memoirs, the actors Berl Bernstein, Morris Finkel,
Sophia Karp and the composer Friedsell had signed a
contract with Harry Fishel, so that he may buy the Grand
Street theatre -- the first theatre especially built for
Yiddish productions. Each of them had put in three
hundred dollars. Friedsell also had excited Young [to
become[ a partner, with an investment of one hundred
dollars, and a small percentage of the earnings, but
according to to a legal decision from the Yiddish Actors
Union, Young had to withdraw from the partnership.
In the 1902-03 season, there
was staged with F.'s music Zolotarefsky's play "Der beit-hamikdah unter der erd, oder, Di yidishe
shtrasnzingerin" [an adaptation of Hugo's "Der
glokntsier fun notre dam (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)";
on 21 February 1907 -- Thomashefsky's "Di lebedike moyd,
oder, Der neyer star, a folkshtik in 4 acts; on 25
December 1907, in the People's Theatre -- Goldfaden's
national shtik in 4 acts, music by H' Friedsell, couplet
music and text by Z. Mogulesko."
Sholem Perlmutter writes:
"Freidsell also was near to
the Zionist thought. ...With the explanation of why his
music to ..., Ben Ami' was considered for important
works that he had created.
F. also wrote music to Boris
Thomashefsky's plays "Grine kinder" and "Der mames
kind" (21 December 1908), and to Boris
Thomashefsky's earlier adaptation of Jacob Terr's "Di
yidishe neshome" (24 December 1908).
In the 1911-12 season, Boaz
Young staged in Brooklyn's Lyric Theatre Hyman Meizel's
drama "Mayn vaybs man".
About the writing, Boaz
Young writes in his memoirs:
"The musician who made music
for plays, of which Edelstein and Thomashefsky became
rich; the first, who had conducted in Yiddish theatre in
new York with baton (small stick), and not with a bow
and violin (such as Kurantman, Yarichovsky, Hellman and
Perlmutter), the conductor and composer Louis Friedsell
then seen in the orchestra of the Lyric Theatre, and
gerimplt on the second violin, although he has no
violin that he can play. The Yiddish club of the
musicians have him glat areyngeshtelt oyf der elter.....I
have decided that my friend Friedsell should write the
music for the play, and Broyde should help him.
Friedsell and Broyde used to bring me each number that
they had written. But the main numbers were created by
Friedsell....Friedsell's duet 'Meydelkh, ikh zolt nit
shtoltsirn', was sung by Clara [Young] and Kestin, had
[received] exceptional acclaim".
In the 1915-16 season there
was staged with F.'s music Zolotarefsky's "Zumer beym
im" and "In dem hoyz vu men veynt un men lakht"
(on the Roof Garden of the National Theatre).
With F.'s music there were
also staged Z. Libin's "Di tsvey mames (The Two
Mothers)" (18 September 1916, in the People's
Theatre); Zolotarefsky's "Suzi bren (Winsome Susie)"
(9 February 1917 in the People's Theatre); Y. Lateiner's
"A yor nokh der khasene (A Year After Marriage)" (22 October 1917, in the
Lenox Theatre); M. Goldberg's musical comedy "Sadie
flat" (21 February 1918, in Bessie Thomashefsky's
People's Theatre); Kalmanowitz and Siegel's "Tserisene
keytn", a melodrama in 4 acts (8 October 1919, in
the People's Theatre), Isidore Lillian's comedy "Mayn
tatens vayb" [later called "Hello, Mama", "Mazel Tov,
Mama" and "Hotel Lefkowitz"] (10 September 1920);
Isidore Lash's musical comedy in 3 acts "Shloimke oyf
brodvey" (7 April 1921 in Thomashefsky's National
Theatre) and Lillian's "Yedes meydl" (3 November
1922, in the 116th Street Theatre).
F. also wrote the music to
Lateiner's "Der komediant, oder, a shandflek in der
mishpakha", to Sharkansky's "Kol Nidre", Kessler's "Der
yetoym israelik, oder, Gzrs shmd", "Jacob Gordin's "Der
vilder mentsh" and to Gabel's play "Tsufil glet" (an
operetta), "Tsores fun liebe (Love's Troubles)" (a drama
with music), "Shprintse oyf riverseyd dreyv (Shprintze
on Riverside Drive)" (operetta), "Leydis garments
(Ladies' Garments)" (a comedy with music), and "Benkende
hertser" by Gabel and Steinberg -- according to Y.
Rumshinsky -- F.'s last operetta (all in Mount Morris
Theatre in Harlem, New York).
On 25 June 1923, F. passed
away in New York and was brought to his gravesite at
Mount Hebron Cemetery in Brooklyn (in Queens, not
Brooklyn -- ed.), New York. "His funeral
[arranged by the "Theatrical Musical Club"] was very
impressive -- recalls Sholem Perlmutter -- a thousand [-kepiker]
world, together with the members of the Actors Union,
under the direction of Joseph Rumshinsky, had
accompanied him in the funeral procession from "Barukh
dayn amt" (From Freidsell's "Yeshiva bukher)".
In his necrology article ,
Joseph Rumshinsky writes about F.:
"...The person was
constantly filled with humor, with a natural, healthy
humor, in life as well as in his music, and he was the
"natural child" without imitation, without filter....
His sincere modesty was reflected in this way, as he
would act in the manner as he would speak with people.
Even in his dress, this was also observed. ....
Friedsell had created music for 150 operettas. In them
one finds great ensembles, light novels and many folk
melodies. ...in Yiddish theatre Friedsell was the first
musician who wrote music for texts, and also the first
who wrote the music for an entire play. For Friedsell
habitually used to take cantorial 'shtiklekh', select
certain compositions, and then adjust the words to the
music. Friedsell was the first one who used to write
music for the play. ... the first time Friedsell had to
write together with Sigmund Mogulesko (also with J.
Brody),and later he had by himself created music for
operas, comedies and dramas. ... Louis Freidsell was not
only an independent composer, but also a great showman.
He used to take a play, a comedy or a drama, and used to
make from this, both in text and in music, a complete
operetta. ...Louis Friedsell was a natural musician,
because besides being able to read scores that he had
learned as a youth with a cantor, he hadn't knowledge of
the first [elementary] theoretical rules of music. He
almost had not learned music, but his practice, good ear
and showman's sense had made him, such as an American
would call him, a 'showman.' ...In his music he may miss
the modern scheme, the modern harmony, the current art,
but this has not hindered [him]. ... for in his music
that he has created for Yiddish theatre, one feels the
natural, the fresh melody, the juicy, healthy and kind
tone that always comes out of the deepest depths of a
truly, healthy heart. .....From Friedsell's music, there
beats his character, his love. Louis Friedsell was a
faithful, family-father, and was very given over to his
children, and it was entirely natural that he may not,
per se, have any equal [in Yiddish theatre] in the music
to a "crib song.". ....Among his numerous crib songs one
finds the well known sleep song ("Shlof, mayn beybele, [kindele],
makh tsu dayn eygele, ey-lyu-loy-lyu"), which became
popular. ...the great artist Shaliapin was so excited
about Friedsell's melody to, "Kava' [a couplet in
Lateiner's "Shlomo gorgel"], that he had it taken into
repertoire, and it was sung in Russian. ...Friedsell had
a remarkable sense and also a remarkable production
craft. In his life he was never in a cabaret, but
nevertheless when he had to write music for a cabaret
scene, he used to be the get himself in the mood and
produce the necessary atmosphere."
characterizes F.'s as such:
"...He was a very wise person, a khokhem, but without
wisdom. He was modest in all of what he was about, in
private as well as in his public life. He was even a
little prouder about his theatrical compositions. He
never had any ambition to show the other composers of
his time that he was a great connoisseur, that he was
refined..... It had no place when it was advertised
'Music by Broyde and Freidsell,' or 'From Mogulesko and
Friedsell.' He did not run after more respect. ...He
came to the theatre because his musical ambition was
great, so as to remain only as a conductor of a
synagogue, or a kapellmeister of an orchestra. ...he had
love for the original Yiddish melodies. he never had
wanted to help out with a melody of an opera, but rather
with other musical creations, because he had held that
it was foreign (to him).... He kept to the traditional
religious music in which one had felt the Yiddish
groans. He was the first to introduce to the stage the
Kaddish, a confession, a chapter of Psalms, a Kaddish
and other traditional melodies. In each time that we had
Yiddish theatre, biblical plays were performed very
often, and Friedsell also had excelled in biblical
[oriental] motifs. ..He had written a large number of
his songs for historical operettas and even for
comedies. He deliberately challenged songs of Zion and
Jerusalem, adapted to them light melodies and had helped
a great deal, that they should be circulated among the
masses, and people should sing them. Also professional
singers loved to sing them. ...His light, arching,
folksy melodies induced a good cry, and they are passed
from mouth to mouth." A certain part of F.'s
individual compositions have been printed. There were
also printed by the New York "Hebrew Publishing
Company": 4 musical numbers from Goldfaden's "Mlits
yushr" ["Rabbi zudelman"], arranged by Rusota and
According to Louis Kramer,
F.'s wife, Frieda, performed with him in "Dos poylishe
yungl", and had performed for several years in dramatic
roles. Afterwards, she withdrew from the stage.
M. E. from
B. Gorin --
"History of Yiddish Theatre", New York, 1923,
Vol. I, p. 234.
M Zeifert --
Geshikhte fun idishen theater, "Di idishe bine",
New York, 1897.
-- Louis friezel hot geshriben muzik far 150
idishe operetn, "Forward", N. Y., 26 June 1923.
B. Y. Goldstein
-- Di idishe operete in di "zenger", "Tog", N.
Y., 29 June 1923.
-- Louis Fridzel, "Rumshinski-bukh", New York, 9
April 1931, pp. 65-66.
-- "Klangen fun meyn lebn", New York, 1944, pp.
Boaz Young -- "Mayn
lebn in teater", N. Y., 1950, pp. 147, 149,
-- "Yidishe dramaturgn un teater-kompozitort",
New York, 1952, pp. 346-9.
-- Yosef rumshinsky iz geven der shafer fun
idisher moderne operete, "Forward", N. Y., 11