Revealed Collection of Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt’s Music Donated to the National Library
Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt is considered to be one of the greatest cantor’s of the twentieth century. Born in the Ukraine to a long line of cantors in 1882, Rosenblatt was never formally trained but soon recognized as a child prodigy. He began his career at age eighteen and quickly became recognized as the most influential voice in the “Golden Age” of cantorial music. Rosenblatt lead services throughout Europe and the United States, performed for President Calvin Coolidge, and had a role in the 1927 film "The Jazz Singer". Despite his legacy, Rosenblatt left many records but very few of his works have been published or preserved in manuscript form.
Exactly eighty years after Rosenblatt’s death a cache of previously unknown manuscripts
were recently donated to the music department of the National Library from the archives of Rabbi and Cantor Menachem Gross. The collection, found in an old-suitcase in a storage area of the Gross family home in Jerusalem, was donated by Jacob Gross, Cantor Gross’ grandson.
It was at the Pressberg Yeshiva as a cantorial student in 1902 that Menachem Gross met Cantor Rosenblatt and would subsequently share with Gross personal notes and manuscripts of cantorial compositions. Dr. Gila Flam, the Director of the National Library’s music department, notes that presumably Rosenblatt gave the scores to Gross to learn or perform them. Rosenblatt died prematurely while visiting Israel in 1933 and left no organized archive. The discovery of these previously unknown manuscripts and archival materials are of great importance for cantorial aficionados and scholars alike. "It is our hope to work with leading cantors and musical arrangers to perform Rosenblatt's seminal musical works," Dr. Flam shared upon receiving the collection.
The archive can be explored in greater detail by visiting the Bella and Harry Wexner Libraries of Sound and Song located at the National Library. Recordings of several Rosenblatt performances, as well as an image from one of his scores in his own hand, can be found by visiting our website.