Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Joseph Brody


B. was born on 12 February 1877 in Lechovitz, Minsk Gubernia, White Russia. His father was a tailor. He learned in a cheder. In 1887 his father immigrated to America, and B. entered into a yeshiva in Slonim, where he learned for six years, and he ate "daily". He had a voice, and he manifested a great desire for music, he used to in the summer follow the shows of the military orchestras that used to perform in Slonim's park. When cantors came to Slonim as a test,  B. stopped his studies and became a choir boy. The cantor Moshe Bass took him with him to Bialystok, where Brody sang in Zabludovsky's shul until the conductor Berman made him his assistant, and he learned from him the theory of music. There Brody learned with Russian and Hebrew teachers.

B. lost his voice and took to writing cantorial compositions. As such he had written "in khmud" for Cantor Roitman, then B. became engaged to Cantor Kahane in Vilna as a conductor. Then in the same post he went to Cantor Yoel Zelig in Pinsk.

Due to military conscription in 1895, B. was sent over to America by his father, and here he worked for a short time with Cantor Kuper, traveling to Philadelphia, where he conducted in the synagogue on Forsythe Street until Morris Finkel, opened a Yiddish theatre on Arch Street, and he engaged him as a conductor.

After being there for two years, B. became engaged by Kessler, who guest-starred ther from New York's Thalia Theatre, where he wrote his first composition for a theatre piece ("Khfni un pinchas," or, "Rukhl", or "Dgl mkhnh yehudah") by M. A. Sharkansky. B. was associated with Kessler for twenty-two years, then for two years in the People's Theatre (Schulman and Rovinger), two years at the Liberty, and one year at the Hopkinson Theatre as a conductor and composer.

B. composed music more than sixty plays, including "Di sheyne trim" by Gordin, "Khtr mlkhut" by Terr, "Di yidn in brazilye" by Hermalin, "La mit a alf" by Khts, "Der krbn" by Hororwitz, "Yehudis di tsveyte," "Dos yidishe harts," "Yum htufh" and, "An amter freynt" by Lateiner.

Especially popularly sung was B.'s  composition "Mzmur ldud" in Gordin's "God, Man and Devil," and his synagogue number "Al tshlikhnu" and "Adm isudu mefr" in "Yom htufh."

M. E.

  •  A. Frumkin -- Elterer dur or der amt'er teater-oylem", Morning Journal, 30 March 1928.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 240.

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