Birnbaum, Eduard

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BIRNBAUM, EDUARD (Asher Anshel ; 1855–1920), German cantor and one of the early research workers in Jewish music. Born in Cracow, he spent three years in Vienna studying ḥazzanut with Solomon *Sulzer. In 1872 he was appointed assistant cantor of the Magdeburg community. Two years later he became chief cantor of Beuthen, where his duties allowed him to travel to other cities and meet cantors and scholars. He started to collect printed and manuscript music, literature and documents, which became source material for his research and led directly to his critical essay on the Baal T'fillah of Abraham *Baer (Das juedische Literaturblatt, nos. 24 and 27, 1878). In 1879, Birnbaum succeeded Ẓvi Hirsch Weintraub as chief cantor of Koenigsberg and held this position till his death. Many young cantors came to study with him and some were stimulated to undertake research. He conducted educational work among cantors and teachers by means of lectures and the publication of printed material (Liturgische Uebungen, 2 vols., 1900, 1912). He also composed liturgical works, some of which were published after his death (Aseh le-Ma'an, Ha-Melekh, Kedushah, Lekhah Dodi in the supplements of Der juedische Kantor, 1927–31). Birnbaum's most important achievements were his writings and the "Birnbaum collection", subsequently acquired by the Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati. These contain his thematic catalogue of synagogal melodies, comprising about 7,000 cards, and his collection of references to music in rabbinic texts.


Sendrey, Music, indexes; A. Friedmann, Dem Andenken Eduard Birnbaums (1922); E. Werner, in: huca, 18 (1943–44), 397–428.

[Haim Bar-Dayan]