Samuel Alman

Composer of Synagogue and Secular Music
1877-1947

Samuel Alman was born in Sobolevka, Podolia in 1877. He began his musical education at the conservatory in Odessa and was a member of the Russian army band based there. After the tragic pogrom in Kishinev, Alman moved to London where he continued his musical studies at the Royal College of Music. There he focused on opera composition, and debuted his first biblical opera, King Ahaz in 1912. In 1916 he was appointed the choirmaster at the Hampstead Synagogue in London. Alman's reputation spread quickly, and he was hired to lead several other local Jewish choirs in London. Alman was deeply influenced by the Eastern European cantorial tradition, specifically by the work of hazzanim Nisson Spivak and Solomon Sulzer. He made use of elaborate modern harmony in his arrangements, evoking the impressionistic style of French composer Claude Debussy. In 1925 he published Synagogue Compositions, a collection of liturgical arrangements for Sabbath and weekday services. In addition to composing synagogue music, Alman also wrote and published several arrangements of popular Yiddish folk songs.

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