neatly dressed, possessing a
little education, French, German, including Romanian. He
was a bookkeeper from a large Galatz firm, and he is
descended from a very fine family. As you remember from
earlier, he was one of my brothers from the "Lebanon"
Association. Sometimes he paid us a visit, and for fun
performed a song. I heard his remarkable born bass profundo
voice, and I was overwhelmed. Normally I would not have
used this [opportunity] to make a proposal to him, that
he should be engaged to the Yiddish stage, but, as you
see, there were things that one could still not call
"theatre." He made a face that looked like a mess, and
he had the right when he himself had been hurt, but
nevertheless I was easily given to listen to a voice
produced in his throat, a God-given [gift], and when he
dedicated himself to the European stage, he honored
himself and the entire Jewry. He gave me no answer. But
in his lowering his eyes to the ground, and his face,
which suddenly became red, I understood that he was
hurt... I quickly turned this conversation onto another
At first when Goldfaden
began to play in Odessa, K. decided to become a
Yiddish actor, and he entered into Goldfaden's troupe.
Writing about the history of Yiddish theatre, B. Gorin
"In Odessa now also arrived
Max Karp. He still was not an actor, but he had a close
relationship to the Yiddish theatre, and as such he had a
good voice, and they had soon taken him into the
As Goldfaden remarked in his
accounts, K. later played a large role during the
productions of the troupe in Petersburg. K. later, as
did every Yiddish actor after the ban on Yiddish theatre
in Russia, immigrated to London, England, and in 1883
he, together with the troupe, played with Zilberman, who
was descended from Moshe and Esther Zilberman, M. Chaimovich and
his wife (the future Sara Adler), M. Borodkin and wife,
M. Wachtel and the composer Joseph Lateiner, arrived in
According to Max Rosenthal,
K. was a lovely figure on the stage. He was the hearty
and best singer, a bass-baritone. He had in his song the
Jewish groan like no other Yiddish singer.
When K. began to act in
America, Boris Thomashefsky remarked: "Max Karp, the
talented singer, turns worlds". And seeing him act as "Manoakh"
in Shulamis, Thomashefsky remarked: "Max Karp was badly
made up, badly dressed, but when he began to sing, one
forgave everything. He was a beautiful singer, with a
wonderful bass-baritone voice and a great musician."
In America K. acted in
various troupes and traveled to Europe, from where he
had brought Sophie Goldstein, with whom he married and
continued to play in America. According to Bessie
Thomashefsky, in 1888 he performed in Boston as "Uriel
In 1890 K. had founded in
New York a "student dramatic young men's society."
In 1892 K. acted in the role
of "Yitzhak Halpern" in Jacob Gordin's first play "The Pogrom in Russia."
In 1894 he played in
Philadelphia. While playing in Pittsburgh, a fire broke out in
a place where he had found himself. With gas flowing
out, without clothing he froze, and two years after that
developed a lung inflammation, to which he was moreover
continued drinking alcohol, he passed away on 17
November 1898 in San Francisco, California.
In the Yiddish Department of
the New York Public Library one can also find a booklet
"Shirim khodeshim barts khodesh, enthaltend yude und
humoristishen inhahmkhunh bshm tfartu multes fon max
karp" [in English there is also mentioned "from the
Oriental Theatre,"] New York 1887, 64 pp., 16°, with a
special page of advertisements. The booklet has ten
songs and is dedicated to "honor hrbni hgbir, ikr
rukh vndib lb, hmkhunh bshm tfarsu mu"h nkhmih hchhn n"y,
hubl shi lut khbud turh zbrkh mat ebdu vmkhbdu".
In the theatre archives at
YIVO, there is a photograph of his gravestone.
M. E. by Max
B. Gorin -- "History of Yiddish
Theatre," Vol. I, pp. 192, 211, 242; Vol. II, pp.
30, 52, 150.
Boris Thomashefsky -- Thomashefsky
Writes of the Yiddish Theatre in San Francisco,"
"Forward," N.Y., 26 March 1921.
"Goldfaden-bukh," New York, 1926,
Sholem Perlmutter -- Der onfang
fun idishn teater, "Di idishe velt," Philadelphia,
30 April, 7 May 1929.
Boris Thomashefsky -- Zayn
lebens-bukh, "Forward," N.Y., 25, 26 March 1936.
Boris Thomashefsky -- "Mayn
lebens-geshikhte," New York, 1937, pp. 132, 155.