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[Pages 308-309]

Samuel Icchak Fater


Translated from Hebrew by Vera Golan

Cantor and composer. Born in Makow Mazowiecki, he was raised in a national religious home. He was a yeshiva student and was singing with cantors. Later on, he studied with Eliezer Brochowicz, in Nowy Dwor near Warszawa, and became one of the lyricists of his great choir, in the course of time, most of its scholars becoming reputed cantors. His students learned solfeggio, harmony, prayer scores and Jewish studies. Icchak Samuel Fater was part of a group of scholars who read books and who, from time to time, were traveling to Warszawa in order to attend a beautiful concert of the Philharmonic orchestra. When he felt the place in Nowy Dwor was becoming stifling and limited, he left for the great and open world.

He stayed in Bialystok with the conductor Jakob Berman, and later on in Kovno, at the Great Synagogue. But wherever he stayed, he never parted from the Gemara and modern literature.

In 1910, Samuel Fater lived in Ciechanow where he directed the local Youth Zionist Choir.(Rivka Kahana: “The Jewish Struggle between Children and their Parents” - in the Memorial Book of the Ciechanow community). Later, he became a cantor in Drobyn near Plock, and until the war broke out, in Zakroczym near Warszawa. At the period of the Nazi occupation, he was in the Warszawa ghetto and perished during one of the Nazi Aktions.

Samuel Icchak Fater was a knowledgeable musician and bookworm. He was a gifted lyric baritone, who could reach the highest note in the tenor range. In his prayers, he was blending the classical teaching of Zulczer with the Jewish emotion of Zejdel Rubner. He conducted girl choirs of four voices and encouraged young musical talents. Among his students was the cantor from Wielun, Abraham Hutt. Samuel Icchak Fater's home was a meeting place for musicians and music lovers; there was a continuous stream of music lovers and passers-by coming and going, it was open house for everyone. All day, songs and melodies were bursting from his house windows and under the attentive eye of Samuel Icchak Fater, many youngsters were preparing musical scores for cultural events and theatres.

Samuel Icchak Fater created religious music as well as musical compositions for Yiddish and Hebrew poets. His solo recitatives for cantor, for cantor and choir have been copied by many cantors and his music set to the poem of Y.L. Peretz “Monisz” became a hit in the whole region. He was sending his compositions to cantors in the United States and Canada, this income becoming the partial basis for the livelihood of his family.

His pedagogic talents may be illustrated by an unforgettable episode: once while explaining what is a counterpoint , he wrote for me the six beats composing the “toreador” march of Carmen and ordered me to sing it, while he himself sang a number of notes from Wagner's march “Mejster Singer”. Our dual singing was fabulous and this is how I learned on the spot what is a counterpoint. Samuel Icchak Fater did implement the modern religious music, influenced by the concept of Pinhas Minkowski. He considered his functions of cantor, composer and music teacher as a holy mission. He felt part of mankind and thanks to his noble character and his love for people, he was respected by all and his position as cantor of his town was rooted on firm ground.

[Pages 309-310]

Issachar Fater

(1912- 2004)[1]

Translated from Hebrew by Vera Golan

mus010.jpg [20 KB]
mus011.jpg [20 KB]
Issachar Fater,
Czesa & Issachar Fater on their
55th wedding anniversary, January 2002

Born in Drobin, near Plock. Attended a heder and later a yeshiva. The family moved to Zakroczym, near Warszawa, where he spent five years in a secular seminar for teachers in Warszawa. In Israel, he studied at the Tel-Aviv University and obtained a degree in History and Judaism.

He got his basic knowledge of music from his father, a cantor. Issachar Fater studied also at the state conservatory in Warszawa with professors Tadeusz Meisner and Stanislaw Nazoro.

In 1935, he became active as a pedagogue in the field of practical music, conducting and researching Jewish music. Until the beginning of the Second World War, he worked as a teacher of Judaism and music at the Jewish autarchic gymnasium in Mlawa In this school, he founded a choir that became famous in the whole region and was regularly praised by the Polish Ministry of Education.

mus024.jpg 1937: Choir of the Jewish Gymnasium of Mlawa, Poland
1937: Choir of the Jewish Gymnasium of Mlawa, Poland
Seated 2nd row: the conductor Issachar Fater, R. D'Argota, Dr. L. Rozman

In 1940, he was a refugee in the Soviet Baranovice, worked as an inspector for the teaching of music in the education and culture institutions of this town.

After being freed from a labor camp in Siberia, he was nominated as the cultural director of “the Polish Company for Song and Word” and became the director of the State Philharmonic Orchestra of Lenintabad in Tadjikistan.

After the war, he returned to Poland and, for one year, managed the department of culture at the Jewish Polish central committee in Warszawa. In 1947, he moved to Paris and from there to Antwerp. In the years 19951-1962, he resided in Rio de Janeiro. In all these places, he worked with the local Jewish schools and conducted choirs that reached high levels of culture and musicality.

In 1962, he immigrated to Israel, settled in Tel-Aviv and devoted his activities to music, pedagogy and literature. As from 1934, Issachar Fater published many articles in various newspapers: critics and contributions regarding Jewish music in different countries: in Warszawa” “Khazanim Welt” (“World Cantors”), in Paris “Undzere Wort” (“Our Word”), in Rio de Janeiro: A Yiddishe Phrese” (“Yiddishe Phrase”) , “Aunda and Amos”, in Sao Paulo “Neier Moment” (“New Moment”), in Tel-Aviv: “Letzte Neues” (“Last News”), “Nowiny Courier”, “Di Goldene Keit” (“the Golden Chain”).

He published numerous researches, books like: “Remember” in memory of the ghetto Warszawa uprising, 1953, “Jewish Music in Poland between the Two World Wars”, in Yiddish, also translated in Hebrew), 1970, “Jewish Music and its Problems” ( in Yiddish), 1985, “Sacred and Profane in Jewish Music” (in Yiddish), 1988.

“He is not only practicing what he preaches but is the composer of beautiful works in the world of music, creativeness, production and pedagogy. He is endowed with an artistic talent, developing and spreading Jewish vocal and instrumental music. He is a versed and experienced musician and his scientific articles reinforced and still do our knowledge of music in all its diversities” (Prof. Dov Sadan).

…“Issachar Fater has always been attentive to tradition when conducting choirs and used extreme cautiousness concerning singing material, musical adaptations and interpretations and, thanks to that, was able to obtain from his choirs not only the purest diction and musicality but soulful Jewish warmth and emotion. His dynamic and creative personality contributed to the development of national aesthetics and brought a new spirit and substance to the cultural life of Jews in the neighboring settlements.” (extract from notes presented by judges of committees distributing awards).

In his musical research, Issachar Fater was searching the revelation of Jewish music from far-away times until today and he revealed the exceptional Jewish melodies in spite of the internal exchanges and external changes, which influenced our people throughout generations, the melodies remained faithful to their ancient origins, and even the new elements that pervaded did free themselves from their strangeness and became an integral element of the Jewish melodic popular treasure.

Issachar Fater accompanies the development of Jewish music through its various courses and phases. He requests from its creators to penetrate all the aspects of Jewish spirituality.

[Page 311]

Lola Folman

Translated from Hebrew by Ada Holtzman

She was a popular singer and a soloist. She attended the famous choir of Szneur in Warsaw. Due to her blessed talents she reached the level of a master, as a singer and as a folklorist who sings Jewish popular songs.

In the 30s she was very famous and loved by many Jews and the Jewish theater critiques. She used to participate in programs of entertainment theaters in Poland and in addition took part in balls which were dedicated to the folklore Jewish melodies. She settled in New York.

Translator's Footnotes

1. Issachar Fater died in Israel in February 2004, may his memory be blessed forever. Return

[Page 312]

Grzegorz Fitelberg

Translated from Hebrew by Ada Holtzman

Grzegorz Fitelberg (1879-1953) a violinist, conductor and a composer. He was born in Daugavpils (Dwinsk) Latvia, a son of a musician. He was a student in the Music Institution at Warsaw, andtaught by the teachers: Prof. Stanis³aw Barcewicz and Zygmunt Noskowski. Afterwards he was a violinist in the Philharmonic Orchestra of Warsaw and from 1904 he was the conductor of that Orchestra. In 1911 he went on a tour of performances in Germany and later invited to Vienna to receive the conductor's baton from Bruno Walter. From 1914 until 1920 he was active in Russia. In 1921 he returned to Poland and shortly later he was invite to London to conduct the Ballet Orchestra of Sergei Diaghilev.

From 1924 Grzegorz Fitelberg very engaged in many musical activities in Warsaw: he was one of the main conductors of the Philharmonic Orchestra, often conducted the Opera's orchestra, directed the conducting of the Warsaw Conservatory; and organizing the orchestra of the Polish Radio which won the gold medal in an Exhibition held in Paris at 1937. In addition to these roles, he was a guest conductor in various concerts in many of the main capital cities of Europe.

In the War years he was in America and after his return to Poland in 1946, He settled in Katowice and reconstructed the Philharmonic Orchestra, which gained a special high recognition by the Polish government. Grzegorz Fitelberg was gifted with exceptional organizational powers and blessed initiative and resourcefulness.

The repertoire of Grzegorz Fitelberg was varied and included works by Stravinsky, Ravel, Hindemith, Prokofiev, Mihaud, Honegger, Roussel and even Johann Strauss. He included in his programs also the classical and famous compositions. Fitelberg conducted all this variety in the same devotion and inspiration.

In a letter from 5.5.1949 to his good friend Jakob Surowicz in Tel Aviv, he wrote that his only want to fulfil his dream and meet there in the new State of Israel his true friends and play with them together on the stage once again.

He is proud of his brothers in Isreal who fought with such courage to win the independence of the State of Israel and he is himself full of pride. He is attracted with all his soul to all those “whom he was only formally separated from”.

mus055.jpg Grzegorz Feitelberg conducting the Warsaw Radio Symphonic Orchestra
Grzegorz Feitelberg conducting the Warsaw Radio Symphonic Orchestra


[Page 315]

Arkadi Flato

Translated from Hebrew by Ada Holtzman

A violinist and Jazz player. He belonged to a group of musicians, who in 1933 escaped from Germany. He arrived to Warsaw and organized there a Jass group. He excelled in combining new Swing rhythms with entertainment music for dances.

During the Nazi occupation he was in the ghetto and opened there a Coffee Shop in  by the name of  “Cyganska Tawerna” (the Cave of the Gypsies).

Mieczyslaw Mosze Fliderbaum


Translated from Hebrew by Ada Holtzman

Was born in Saint Petersburg, where he studied music and finish the conservatory in the year of 1917, student of Professor Leopold Auer (1845-1930). From the year of 1918 until 1936 (with a short period) he was the chief violinist in the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra.

During many years he was the secretary of the known Jewish philanthropy, the Baron Dawid Ginzburg, and because of that he managed to have constant contacts with Jewish public activists. Mieczyslaw was always also connected to the Jewish musicians' circles in Warsaw.

When he was in Warsaw he appeared with the Philharmonic orchestra as soloist, conducted by the famous conductors: Józef Ozimiński, Henryk Melcer – Szczawiński, Jan Nawinski, Adam Dolzycki and others. He played Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Młynarski, Wieniawski, and other works of Scandinavian composers and others.

In the 30s he was member of the “Polish Quartet” whose artists were: Irena Dubienka, Emil Młynarski, Eliasz Kochanowski and himself. During the time there were changes in the composition when the viola player Mieczysław Szlawski appeared to be anti-Semite, then Fliderbaum left the quartet.

The newspaper “Warszawer Kurier” from 15 December 1933 tells about the big failure of the quartet in Kraków. Every year the Bolonski Concert Hall was completely full in order to listen to the concerts of the quartet, but this time, without Fliderbaum it was almost empty.

In 1936 Fliderbaum arrived to Tel Aviv and joined the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra.

Most of the music critics considered him to be one of the most important players of the National Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra. He was considered violinist with high musical culture and magnificent technique. “And on top of all he was also full of grace and noble behavior”.

[Page 324]

Herman Kumok

Translated from Hebrew by Ada Holtzman

Herman Kumok was a conductor of various theaters, orchestras and various bands. He always processed the material by himself and matched it to the orchestra he conducted. His songs to various plays in Yiddish: “Voyberishe Kniplech” (Female savings) and “Di Primadone” (The First Dame) by Vaxman were very successful and were sung by many Jews. He mainly worked in Warsaw. He performed also in the provincial towns of  Poland.

[Page 343]

Fred Szer

Translated from Hebrew by Ada Holtzman

Fred Szer was a pianist and a composer of popular hits. He lived in Warsaw and was a known composer of entertainment music. He wrote music to texts of Zenon Freiwald-Wardan.

Among his famous compositions are: The Slowfox “Only say yes”, tango “I don't want to know” and “You were the dream”. He lives in the United States.

[Page 364]

Zeitlin Leo*

Translated from Hebrew by Ada Holtzman

A musician, composer and a pedagogue. He arrived from Russia to Vilna in the year of 1922. He participated in the foundation of the Jewish Institute for Music and supported it. As the one who belonged to the “St. Petersburg group”, he was adherent of the folk Jewish song and considered it as the source of Jewish music in the future. He was deeply influenced by Rimsky-Korsakov and Modest Mussorgsky.

* Paula Eisenstein Baker adds on 10.9.2009:

More information about Leo Zeitlin (may spelt also as: Cejtlin)
His dates: 1884-1930 (b. Pinsk, died New York). He was in Vilna from Jan 1922 until early June 1923. The published volume of his chamber music that I co-edited (it contains the most up-to-date information about him at https://areditions.com/rr/rrn/n051.html)

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