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Emanuel Kirschner

Emanuel KirschnerEMANUEL (MENACHEM BEN AARON) KIRSCHNER (1857 – 1938) was a cantor and composer born in Rokittnitz Oberschlesien to a family of master bakers. Cantor Kirschner was one of eight in his family. In 1868, he was accepted as an apprentice and studied under Cantor Joseph Singer, who became his mentor.

In 1874, Cantor Kirschner studied for 2½ years at the Teachers Seminary in Berlin. In 1879, Cantor Kirschner became the chazan schani at the Oranienburger Strasse Synagogue when the second cantor, Henry Joachimsohn, became ill.

At that time, Cantor Kirschner had the privilege of working with Louis Lewandowski. The relationship was cordial, but it should be pointed out that there was friction between the two men. According to Cantor Kirschner’s diaries, which document a meeting he had in 1893 with Mr. Lewandowski, it was quite clear that Cantor Kirschner — who by this time was already the cantor of the Haupt Synagogue in Munich, built in 1887 — felt that Mr. Lewandowski rejected him as he did with most people because of Cantor Kirschner’s vast talent. Mr. Lewandowski, who faced possible depression because of his forced retirement, died shortly thereafter in February 1894.

Cantor Kirschner had a very successful career in Munich. He was appointed cantor permanently from 1881 until his retirement in 1928 and continued to serve the community until his death on September 28, 1938.

As cantor, Kirschner published his magnum opus as the four-volume Tehillot le-El Eljon (Synagogen-Gesänge) for cantor, choir and organ (1897 – 1926). A fifth volume, Trauungsgesänge, was published by Cantor Kirschner himself in 1883 and dedicated to his wife, Ida Kirschner Geb Buhler, whom he married in 1884 and who died in Frankfurt on June 4, 1942, in an altersheim (old-age home), avoiding deportation to Auschwitz.

— Prepared by Dr. Ralph M. Selig


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