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Classiscsonline Home » Composers » Z » Zilberts, Zavel

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Zavel Zilberts (1881 - 1949)

Zavel Zilberts (1881 [1880?] –1949) was equally acclaimed in his lifetime as a choral conductor and a composer, but his legacy resides in the latter area. He was the only major and substantially published American composer of liturgical music known to have been a music director previously in an eastern European khor shul (lit., choral synagogue). To appreciate fully Zilberts's art, one must understand the significance of the khor shul as a response to modernity. The term can be misleading, since the choral parameter is historically inseparable from eastern as well as western Ashkenazi cantorial art, and either appertained or was the desiderata in virtually all formal eastern European synagogues of nearly every brand apart from Hassidic and other small "prayer houses" (shtiblekh). The khor shul in particular, however, reflected aspects of western sophistication within a traditional orthodox framework and was an important religious-cultural institution of 19th- and early- 20th-century cosmopolitan eastern European and Russian Jewry. Many of the most famous eastern European cantors served at one time or another in these khor shuls, which were among the most coveted pulpits. These synagogues often were also schools for boy choristers.


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