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THE SOLOMON ROSOWSKY ADDENDUM
AT THE LIBRARY OF THE JEWISH THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
arranged and described by ELIOTT KAHN, D.M.A.,
Table of Contents
Detail. Solomon Rosowsky (far left) and historian Simon Dubnow (far right), St. Petersburg, Russia, ca. 1908. (Solomon Rosowsky Collection, Box 2, folder 23)
The Solomon Rosowsky Addendum was discovered in March 2001 in three small boxes stored in the Library's third-floor high density stacks. This area contains items rescued from the Library fire in August 1966. For some reason this Rosowsky material had been separated from the bulk of the papers that were arranged and described by the Ratner Center staff between 1993 and 1995 (see: Solomon Rosowsky Collection). The Rosowsky Addendum was found by the Library's Curator of Jewish Art, Sharon Lieberman-Mintz.
The Addendum in its entirety consists of two Hollinger boxes of Solomon Rosowsky's papers. The first box (Box 11) contains subject files organized by this cataloguer, ca. 1920-1965. Highlights include Rosowsky's notes on biblical cantillation (Box 11, folders 3-6); biographical information on Rosowsky (Box 11, folder 8) and Jewish music pioneer Joel Engel (11/2); a photo negative of Rosowsky's father, Baruch Leib (11/7); and a program from "A Conference on Jewish Music in the Synagogue," February 1947 (11/1). This last event initiated the creation of the Cantors Assembly. The second box contains correspondence in Russian, Yiddish, German, English, Hebrew and French, in that order of frequency. As in the Rosowsky Collection, letters are initially filed by their predominant language and then under the name of their correspondent. Carbon copies of letters from Rosowsky are usually filed under his name, unless there is additional correspondence and they are filed under the correspondent's name.
The correspondence covers a broad range of topics that include the final dissolution of the Society for Jewish Folk Music at St. Petersburg, ca. 1922; the subsequent founding of the Juwal Publication Society for Jewish Music, in Berlin, 1922-1923; the international dispersion of practitioners of Jewish art music after the Russian Revolution, ca. 1920-1939; and some of Rosowsky's musical activities in then Palestine, 1925-1947.
Of particular note is a January 24, 1934 letter to Rosowsky from the artist Marc Chagall (MS 10698; photocopy in Box 12, folder 2). Both men appear to be friends, and there is also an invitation to Chagall's daughter's November 1934 wedding in Paris. The gist of the letter refers to composer Arnold Schoenberg's sudden departure to the United States and not to the Zionist Congress in Prague, where he had apparently planned to present his political platform to save Germany's threatened Jews. An exasperated Chagall confides (in Russian) to Rosowsky, "I should not have converted Schoenberg into Judaism… All of you were right… To hell with them. Look out and keep the country [Palestine] in our pure, non-German, spirit." A copy of an earlier letter from Rosowsky to Schoenberg (November 29, 1933, in German) asks him twice why he had given up on his "splendid plan" and was not traveling to Prague. Rosowsky also recommends Schoenberg contact several prominent musicians in New York who recently founded Mailamm, a Jewish music organization (12/34). Schoenberg ultimately gave a speech before Mailamm in New York City on April 29, 1934. In it, he presented an international plan for organizing against Germany's dangerous anti-Semitism (see Irene Heskes Collection.)
Letter. From Mordechai Riwesman on Society for Jewish Folk Music at St. Petersburg stationery, Russia, 1922. (Solomon Rosowsky Addendum, Box 12, folder 15)
Several letters in Russian refer to the St. Petersburg Society for Jewish Folk Music and its successor, the Juwal Publication Society in Berlin. Two letters on Folk Music Society stationery from poet and translator Mordechai Riwesman (April and May 1922) detail the forced inactivity of several Society members as well as the harsh economic and hygienic conditions of post-revolutionary Russia. Riwesman informs Rosowsky he will translate a libretto for him if Rosowsky can send food products from Riga, Latvia (12/15). Two 1924 letters from Society member I.E. Tomars in St. Petersburg sadly relate the death of Mordechai Riwsesman, as well as the difficulties of musical life in Russia during this time. Tomars asks Rosowsky to compose a piece of music in Riwesman's memory (12/22). A 1943 letter from Mendel Elkin (in Yiddish) tells of the last days of Society member and violinist Joseph Achron, whom Elkin had visited in Hollywood, California (12/25). Finally, there are eight business letters on Juwal stationery (12/9) as well as several letters about Juwal (in Russian) from Dr. Marc Citron, 1922 (12/3), Dr. B. Mandel, 1923 (12/11) and Society member Israel Okun, 1922-1923 (12/14). These include contracts signed by Society members that agree to let Juwal publish and distribute their music.
Other letters (in Russian) tell of the dispersion of Russian-Jewish musicians during the twenties and their enormous impact on the burgeoning Jewish national music movement. Violinist/conductor Alexander Schmuller, based in Amsterdam, has a busy concert life throughout Europe and Russia but manages to play violin music composed by members of the St. Petersburg Society. He also writes in 1921 about the severe food shortages in St. Petersburg (12/19). Singer Maria Kuzhnitsovah promises to try and organize a concert of Jewish music in Paris, where she will be singing at the Opera in 1926. She is also supposed to sing and record Rosowsky's Wiegenlied (12/10). Rosowsky's friend and former Folk Music Society colleague, Lazare Saminsky, has become music director at Temple Emanuel in New York City. He writes in 1921 that his Jewish choral music and biblical ballets are being performed in America by Christian choruses and non-Jewish theatre groups. Saminsky decries the economic difficulties confronting clarinetist Simon Bellison and others who wish to play Jewish music. He says their desire only "makes it worse for them." He vows he "will never stop trying" to organize a good Jewish music publishing house (12/18).
Letter. On Juwal Publication Society for Jewish Music stationery, Berlin, Germany, 1925. (Solomon Rosowsky Addendum, Box 12, folder 9)
Several letters delineate Rosowsky's musical activities during the years he lived in Jerusalem, 1925-1947. An undated draft of a letter (in Russian) to a Professor Kestenburg voices Rosowsky's extreme disappointment in the Palestine Orchestra's performance of his Anthem of Liberty. There had only been one rehearsal (12/16). In a 1929 copy of a letter from Rosowsky to the Great Synagogue in Tel Aviv, he refuses to conduct their choir because of "poor conditions" (12/16). Correspondence begun in 1928 with cellist/composer Joachim Stutschewsky, outlines Stutschewsky's efforts on behalf of Jewish art music in Vienna. The amiable relationship between the two men deteriorates, however, after Stutschewsky emigrates to Palestine. The draft of a final July 1943 letter from Rosowsky castigates Stutschewsky for making excessive noise in a classroom adjacent to Rosowsky's lecture. He insults Stutschewsky in Russian, calling him someone "from the provinces" (12/21). Finally, letters (in Yiddish and English) from A.W. Binder under the aegis of New York Mailamm, 1935-1939, and canceled check stubs, 1934-1937, shed light on Rosowsky's activities for this American-Israeli Jewish music organization. On June 25, 1936, Binder asks Rosowsky for "some of the records you have made during the course of your research." Binder also informs Rosowsky he shall be sending "catalogues from electrical companies," to help him procure "the instruments which are necessary to you" (12/34). This probably refers to the contents of the approximately eighty-five aluminum discs found in Box 9 of the Solomon Rosowsky Collection. These discs have yet to be played or catalogued.
I. ARCHIVAL MATERIAL, 1920-1965