Algazi, Isaac ben Solomon

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ALGAZI, ISAAC BEN SOLOMON (1882–1964), Turkish Sephardi ḥazzan and composer. Algazi, who was born in Izmir, at an early age joined the "Maftirim Choir" led by his father, himself a noted ḥazzan and author of religious poetry. He served as a teacher at the talmud torah and later as ḥazzan in his native town. He also became proficient in Turkish art music and for many years arranged special courses for the members of his community; A. Hemsi and other musicians were among his pupils. Algazi was a noted performer of classical Turkish music and adapted some to Hebrew texts which he himself translated. In 1923 he was appointed ḥazzan and music instructor at the "Italian" synagogue at Galata (Istanbul), which had a long tradition of musical activity. In 1930 Algazi became associated with the Jewish newspaper La voz de Oriente. In 1933 he went to Paris, but settled finally in Montevideo (Uruguay) where he was prominent in Sephardi congregation activities. Algazi's abilities as a composer and adapter were combined with a pleasant, flexible voice and a highly distinguished performing style. He imparted a Turkish influence to Eastern synagogue song. The sole printed work ("adaptation") of Algazi connects five piyyutim to form a Turkish "Fassil" (Suite), with each piece following a different rhythmical pattern ("uzul"). This work was published as Extrait du Fassil Husseini des chants juifs orientaux… adapté sous le contrôle de M. Isaac Algazi (1924–25).

As is usual with Eastern music, most of Algazi's compositions and arrangements were transmitted orally, but several have been recorded (collection of Israel Broadcasting Authority, Jerusalem). Some of his outstanding works which survive in oral tradition are: The Song of Deborah; Ha-Ben Yakkir Li Efrayim; Kiddush; Seliḥot; two "Peshrev" for choir, to Hebrew texts; songs of the Ladino Folklore. A selection of Isaac Algazi's poetry has been published in: Shirei Yisrael be-Ereẓ ha-Kedem (1921).

In addition to his main interest in Sephardi music, Algazi also devoted himself to the dissemination of Judaism and wrote two works in Spanish, El judaismo, religion de amor (Buenos Aires, 1945) and La Sabiduría Hebrea (Montevideo, 1949).


M.D. Gaon, Yehudei ha-Mizraḥ be-Ereẓ Yisrael, 2 (1938), 43; Morguez-Algranti, in: El Tiempo (Tel Aviv, Oct. 20, 1964), 3–4.

[Hanoch Avenary]