Adler, Hugo Chaim

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ADLER, HUGO CHAIM (1894–1955), cantor and composer. Born in Antwerp, Adler served as a chorister to Yossele *Rosenblatt in Hamburg. He officiated as cantor in Mannheim, 1921–39, studied composition with Ernst *Toch, and was strongly influenced by the modern musical idiom. The Juedisches Lehrhaus of Franz *Rosenzweig in Frankfurt helped to shape his thoughts and he set to music some of Rosenzweig's Hebrew hymns. Adler adopted the idea of the musical Lehrstueck, an ethical-political cantata first realized by Brecht and Hindemith, and composed a Maccabean cantata Licht und Volk (performed in 1931) and Balak und Bileam (1934). The performance of his Akedah was prevented by the Kristallnacht pogrom of November 1938. After his escape to the U.S. he was appointed cantor in Worcester, Massachusetts. There he reshaped the music of the service and composed music for complete liturgies as well as many short pieces and the cantatas Parable of Persecution (1946), Behold the Jew, and Jona (1943). Adler's importance rests upon his skill in replacing 19th-century additions to synagogue song by a lucid contemporary idiom and striving, in his cantatas, for a collective musical expression of Jewish consciousness.


Sendrey, Music, indexes; American Hazan, 2, no. 1 (1956); Fromm, in: Jewish Music Notes (Fall 1956), 3–4.

[Hanoch Avenary]