Nissan Blumenthal

Russian cantor

Nissan Blumenthal was born in Berdichev, Ukraine, and at the age of 21 held his first cantorial post at the local Synagogue. In 1841 he was appointed cheif hazzan at the Brody Synagogue in Odessa, a position he held until his death in 1903. During his time there, he established the first Chor-Schul in Odessa where he developed choral singing for four voices. Influenced by his study of German classical music, he adapted melodies from the composers, Handel, Haydn, Cherubini, and Mendelssohn in his arrangements of liturgical music. In 1870 he hired David Nowakowsky as choir-leader, and Nowadowsky's deep knowledge of classical harmony, counterpoint, and choral arrangement helped to propel the use of choir music and performance in the Synagogue. Though very few of Blumenthal’s arrangements were published, they have been preserved by generations of cantors who continue to use his melodies in their Synagogues.