Yossele Rosenblatt Live in Concert
Rosenblatt appeared as himself in the 1927 talkie "The
Jazz Singer" starring Al Jolson. You will see Jolson as
Jakie Robin, attending the Rosenblatt concert,
conflicted between his desire to become an entertainer
and the wish of his father, a Cantor, who would
like Jakie to follow in his footsteps. Here, Cantor
Rosenblatt sings a secular Yiddish song..
Josef "Yossele" Rosenblatt (May 9, 1882, Bila Tserkva, Ukraine - June 19, 1933, Jerusalem) was a Ukrainian-born chazzan (cantor) and composer.
The scion of a long line of cantors Rosenblatt's devoutly religious upbringing prevented him from receiving formal musical training at any of the great academies of his day. He began his illustrious career as a member of the local synagogue choir. Quickly lauded as a wunderkind (child prodigy) Rosenblatt's solo career was launched.
He accepted his first full-time position in Munkacs, Hungary at the age of eighteen. Shortly afterword he relocated to Pressburg, Hungary. He later occupied a position in Hamburg, Germany. In 1912 he moved to America to take a position at the Ohab Tsedek congregation.
He was known for his extraordinary technique (which he used primarily in cantillation), for the sweetness of his timbre, and for his unique ability to transition from normal voice to falsetto with hardly any noticeable break at all.
His technique in cantillation was unique. Notes were hit remarkably accurately at high speeds. Appoggiaturas, similarly, were struck near perfectly, both rhythmically and on pitch. His fame spread so far that Toscanini appealed to him to sing the leading role in Fromental HalÚvy's La Juive, but Rosenblatt replied that he would only use his vocal gift for the glory of God, in service to his religion. Notably, he turned down a "Golden Hello" from the Chicago opera house because it violated his religious principles.
Rosenblatt corresponded with many of the great tenors of his day. It is told that upon hearing Rosenblatt sing "Elli Elli," Enrico Caruso was so moved that he kissed him.
Rosenblatt perhaps exerted the greatest influence on cantorial music's "Golden Age". He led the transition from the more freestyling cadenza-laden approach prevalent before his era, to a more structured, metered style. A prolific composer, more than one hundred and eighty pieces of his have been preserved.
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