Blumenthal, Nissan

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BLUMENTHAL, NISSAN (1805–1903), Russian cantor. Blumenthal was born in Berdichev, Ukraine, where he became cantor at the age of 21. He later served in Yekaterinoslav (Dnepropetrovsk), and from 1841 until his death held the position of chief cantor at the Brody Synagogue in Odessa. His main contribution to the music of the synagogue was the founding of a choir school in Odessa, where he developed choral singing in four voices, an innovation at that time. Contrary to the wishes of the traditionalists, he introduced into the liturgy melodies from German classical music. He was nevertheless a lover of tradition and succeeded in effecting a synthesis of old and new. Few of his melodies appeared in print, but they were preserved by other cantors and some are still sung.


Sendrey, Music, indexes; A.L. Holde, Jews in Music (1959), index; H.H. Harris, Toledot ha-Neginah ve-ha-Ḥazzanut be-Yisrael (1950), 400–2.

[Joshua Leib Ne'eman]