Birnbaum, Abraham Baer

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BIRNBAUM, ABRAHAM BAER (1864–1922), cantor and composer. Birnbaum, who was born in Pultusk, Poland, was regarded as an illui ("prodigy") in Talmud. He studied the violin in Lodz with Ḥayyim H. Janowski, founder of the Ha-Zamir choral society. At the age 19, he accepted a position as cantor in Hethar, Hungary, but in due course returned to Poland as chief cantor in Czestochowa. His Hallel ve-Zimrah, consisting of Sabbath eve melodies arranged for choir and organ, was published in 1897. His main work, which much enriched synagogue music, Ommanut ha-Ḥazzanut, was a treatment of liturgical music for cantor and choir, written in two parts (1908, 1912). He composed a "Romance for Violin and Piano" and set to music poems of Bialik, Frischmann, Yaakov Cohen, and Frug. Birnbaum's activities included publishing, and he brought out four numbers of Yarḥon ha-Ḥazzanim ("Cantors' Monthly") in 1897, textbooks on music, in Yiddish and Hebrew, written for the cantorial school he opened at Czestochowa (1907) and for the Lodz teachers' seminary. He organized the conference of cantors held in Warsaw for the purpose of founding the Aguddat ha-Ḥazzanim ("Cantorial Association"). His musical collection is in the Hebrew Union College Library, Cincinnati.


Sendrey, Music, indexes; Friedmann, Lebensbilder, 3 (1927), 58–61; Sherman, in: A.H. Rosen, Di Geshikhte fun Khazones (1924), 210–1.

[Joshua Leib Ne'eman]