Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Joseph Markowitz


Born on 4 February 1884 in Fastov, Kiev Gubernia, Ukraine, whose parents -- merchants. He hadn't any consistent desire to learn in cheder, and he made "trouble", from which the youths used to laugh..

At the age of nine he toured with a cantor, with whom he migrated for three years for Sabbaths in various towns. In Radomysl Zeydl Hovner heard him and took him with him. Then M. went over to conductor Shektman in Melitopol, where he sang for two years in the choral school. Losing his child's voice, he arrived, at the age of fifteen, back home. Here he took up reading Yiddish and Russian, and composted a play "Der apikoyres (The Infidel)". Soon they caught him smoking on Shabbes, and he fled to Kiev, where he was a conductor for Moshe Salominker in the tailor's school and by himself composed melodies.

Becoming a baritone, he entered into a Kiev musical school and became a chorister in Schwartz's Russian opera and operetta troupes under the musical direction of Moshe Chizik [Bunes Badkhan's son, see "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre, Vol. 2, pp. 899-900]. At the age of twenty, M. became kompremarye in the Russian opera troupe, but soon however he became taken into military service, and after six weeks of service he fled for London. Here he entered into the Yorkminster Music Hall, where he sang Yiddish songs, which he wrote alone for himself and for the other singers. Initially when the Yiddish troupes performed and lacked a role player, M. became engaged to the Yiddish theatre, where he debuted as "Lipe Shochat" in Lateiner's "Blimele" and sang in the chorus.


M. then wrote after a play "Der revolutsyoner", which was soon staged by Zygmunt Feinman (the same play in 1912 was staged in "Pomul Verde" in Iasi), and on 2 January 1918 M. D. Vaksman, in the Lodz "Grand Theatre", in an actual adaptation of Zalmen Zylbercweig, according to the statements of M. D. Vaksman under the name "Der heymlozer revolutsyoner".

Since then M. has written and staged the melodrama "Der zapasner soldat", "In di keytn fun libe", "In vald" (staged by Morris Moshkovitsh, "Der bradyaga (The Rusian Tramp)", (later performed by Jacob Silbert in his own name), "Gost ganef", "Der gembler (The Gambler)", "A mames trern", "Dos letste lid", "Khaverim", "East and West", "Der goldene shisl", "Der grazhdanin", "Dos rkhilut-lidl", and the operettas: "Selima, or, Di yidn oyfn kavkaz" (staged by Zygmunt Feinman in London's Pavilion Theatre, and in October 1911 by Jacob P. Adler in New York's Thalia Theatre), "Sarahle di grefin", "Di vyberishe melukhah", "A milyon far a yidn", "Di goldene pave", "Pariz beynakht" and "Di mume gnendel" [in film acted in the adptation of Julius Adler].

M. also wrote many melo-declamations, of which there were the especially popular "Shma Yisrael" (declaimed by Samuel Goldenburg), "Tsu der khuppah", "Di orime khasunah", "Kol Nidre", "Der shtot-meshugener", "Leybke", "Sadie", "Opgegebn broyt".

Aside from England, M. also acted in Yiddish theatre in Argentina, South Africa, France, Belgium and Romania, and since the beginning of 1930, he continued in Argentina, where he acted in the local Yiddish theatre.

Sh. E.

  • D. B. [Sh. Yanovski] -- In theater, "Fraye arbayter shtime", N. Y., 7 October 1911.

  • Spektator [N. Frank] -- "A milyon far a iden", komedye fun yozef markovitsh, "Parizer haynt", 25 November 1928.

  • [--] -- A bazukh fun yosef markovitsh in "di idishe tsaytung", Buenos Aires, 7 March 1930.

  • Shmuel Rozhansky -- "A mames trern" fun yosef markovitsh, oyfgefirt dukhn mkhbr, "Di idishe tsaytung", Buenos Aires, 23 March 1930.

  • Y. B. [Botoshansky] -- A komishe operete in teater "ekselsior", "a milyon far a yidn", music and libreto by Y. Markovitsh, "Prese", Buenos Aires, 8 April 1930.

  • Y. M. Warshavsky -- Der "ferfaser" moshe dovid vaksman, "Prese", Buenos Aires", 26 September 1930.

  • Shin-Gimel -- A heymishe forshtelung fun a gutn ansambl in "ekselior", "Di idishe tsaytung", Buenos Aires, 12 December 1932.

  • B. -- Y. markovitshes "gost gnvim" in exselsior, "Prese", Buenos Aires, 12 December 1932.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 2, page 1265.

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