Koussevitzky (Frequently Spelled Kusevitsky), Moshe

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KOUSSEVITZKY (frequently spelled Kusevitsky), MOSHE

KOUSSEVITZKY (frequently spelled Kusevitsky ), MOSHE (1899–1966), ḥazzan. Born in Smorgon, near Vilna, Koussevitzky became ḥazzan in the Great Synagogue of Vilna in 1924. He succeeded Gershon *Sirota at the Tlomackie Street synagogue in Warsaw in 1927. At the outbreak of World War ii he escaped to Russia where he sang in Russian, Polish, and Yiddish and appeared in opera. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1947, toured widely in America, South Africa, and Israel and in 1952 became ḥazzan in Temple Beth El, Brooklyn. His public appearances in synagogues and concert halls and his recordings brought him renown as a graceful and powerful lyric tenor with a particularly fine upper register. Koussevitzky was popularly regarded as the greatest ḥazzan of his time. He died in the U.S. but his body was taken to Jerusalem for burial. His three brothers were all notable ḥazzanim: jacob (1903–1959) held positions in Lvov, London, Winnipeg, and New York; simcha (1905–1998) officiated in Rovno, Glasgow, London, Johannesburg and, from 1952, in Cape Town; david (1911–1985) was ḥazzan in Rovno, London where he also lectured in ḥazzanut at Jews' College, and, from 1949, in Temple Emanu-El, Boro Park, Brooklyn, New York. Moshe's only son, alexander (1927– ), also became a ḥazzan.


E. Zaludkowski, Kultur Treger fun der Yidisher Liturgie (1930), 337–9; Jewish Ministers Cantors' Association of America, 50 Yoriger Yoyvl Zhurnal (1947), s.v.; G. Saleski, Famous Musicians of Jewish Origin (1949), 596–7; N. Stolnitz, Negine in Yidishen Lebn (1957), 43–57; Yedi'ot ha-Makhon ha-Yisre'eli le-Musikah Datit, 8 (1966), 264–89.

[Joshua Leib Ne'eman]