Beer, Aaron

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BEER, AARON (1739–1821), German cantor, composer, and collector. Beer was born near Bamberg and was known as "der Bamberger ḥazzan." He had a tenor voice of unusually wide range. While still a youth he became cantor of the Paderborn congregation and at the age of 26 was appointed chief cantor of the Heidereutergasse Synagogue in Berlin, a position he held until his death. Beer was known for his extensive repertory of liturgical melodies, including many of his own composition. Tradition credits him with 1,210 items. He made a habit of varying his tunes for regular prayers in order to discourage the congregation from joining in his singing, a practice he profoundly disapproved. Beer's collection of 447 festival prayer melodies was passed down to his successor, Asher Leon (1776–1863), and thereafter to Cantor Moritz Deutsch of Breslau (1818–92), H. Schlesinger, and Cantor E. Birnbaum (1855–1920). It is now in the library of the *Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati.


Idelsohn, Melodien, 6 (1932), 1–194 (for Beer's preface in Hebrew, see after title page); Sendrey, Music, nos. 6042–43; Friedmann, Lebensbilder, 2 (1921), 27–29; J. Meisl et al. (eds.), Pinkas Kehillat Berlin, 17231854 (1962), 229, 230, 232, 280; Idelsohn, Music, index.

[Joshua Leib Ne'eman]