Music > News > Previously Unknown Manuscripts of the Works of the Famous Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt Donated to the National Library

Previously Unknown Manuscripts of the Works of the Famous Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt Donated to the National Library

The Metamorphosis of the Collection
Yossele Rosenblatt
Exactly 80 years after the death of the famous cantor Yossele Rosenblatt, the archive of the Rabbi and cantor Menachem (Emil) Gross was donated to the Music Collection and Sound Archive of the National Library. The archive, which was donated by his grandson, Yaakov Gross, has a fascinating history: Menachem (Emil) Gross was trained as a Rabbi in the Yeshiva of Bratislava and served as a cantor in Orthodox synagogues in Hamburg and Frankfurt (Germany). He moved to Israel right before World War II, in December, 1939. .
 
As a student in the Yeshiva of Bratislava, where he arrived in 1902, he met the legendary cantor Yoselle Rosenblatt who was serving at the local synagogue. The two became friends. In 1907 Rosenblatt helped Gross receive a post as a cantor in Hamburg, Germany. It has now become clear from his archive that Rosenblatt left his friend many of his manuscripts, including tens of his original musical compositions. The Director of the Music Collection and Sound Archive at the National Library, Dr. Gila Flam, notes that the assumption is that Rosenblatt gave the scores to Gross to study and perform.
 
For many years, this collection sat in a suitcase in the storage closet of the Rosenblatt house in Jerusalem. The archive includes notes, manuscripts of cantorial compositions and archival material related to the experiences of the Jewish communities of Germany during the 30's.
The collection was processed and its importance was immediately recognized.
After the collection was cataloged in the Music Collection and Sound Archive of the National Library, the cantorial scholar Moti Boyer came to the Library and asked to look at the new collection. After about an hour, he excitedly exclaimed that he found notes in Yossele Rosenblatt's handwriting. A week later, the famous musician Raymond Goldstein confirmed that the notes are indeed in Rosenblatt's handwriting. On one of the works one can clearly see "I composed this on Rosh Hashana Eve, 1908" and in another place the date, "Passover (March) 1907" is clear. 
 
 
Yossele Rosenblatt  admired and imitated
Yossele Rosenblatt (1882-1933) was one of the most admired and beloved cantors of the 20th century. He left behind many recordings; however, only a few of his works were published or preserved in manuscript form. Even today, Yossele's works are very popular and he is considered the "greatest cantor". His works are performed often and many cantors try to imitate his style. Yossele Rosenblatt died suddenly during a visit to Israel and did not leave behind an organized archive. Due to this, according to Dr. Flam, this current discovery is very important to lovers and scholars of cantorial music. "We hope to collaborate with the best cantors and producers to record these works," says the director of the Music Collection and Sound Archive.