Moshe Koussevitsky


Moshe Koussevitsky was born in Smorgon, Poland, the eldest of four brothers who all perused careers in hazzanut. Koussevitsky was identified early on as a musical protégé and at the age of eight joined a synagogue choir in Smorgon under the direction of Hazzan Ephraim Shlepak. Koussevitzky moved to Vilna as an adolescent to study voice with Hazzan Elijah Salutkowski and enrolled at the Ramailes Yeshiva to supplement his Jewish and secular education. He received his first cantorial post at the Great Synagogue of Vilna. In 1924, Koussevitsky was chosen to replace Hazzan Gershon Sirota at the Tlomackie Street synagogue in Warsaw, an appointment which catapulted his career. While in Warsaw, Koussevitsky began touring extensively throughout Europe performing in synagogues as well as in secular concert halls. At the outbreak of World War II, Koussevitsky escaped to Russia, where he continued to tour as an Opera soloist in Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev and Odessa. In 1947, Koussevitsky emigrated to the United States, where he received a post at Temple Beth El in Brooklyn, NY. While living in New York, Koussevitsky toured in America, South Africa and Israel, gaining wide recognition as one of the greatest cantors of his time.