Joseph Shlisky

5 November 1891 or 1894 Ostrówce – 14 February 1955 New York City

Picture of Joseph Shlisky
Born in 1891 or 1894 in Ostrówce, Poland (then Russia), he was so successful already as a boy soprano that a choir leader offered to take him with a few other talented boys on a concert tour to London. This was a scam, and the choir leader in fact a human trafficker; seven-year-old Shlisky ended up in Toronto as a virtually enslaved synagogue choir boy.

A worshipper had pity with him, helped him escape, and gave him a shelter and regular employment at his scrap dealing.

At age 18, Shlisky was well-off enough to have his father come to Canada and join him; at 23, he graduated from the Toronto conservatory.

He spent his career as a cantor almost exclusively in New York City, at various synagogues, gaining huge success.

As early as 1934, he had a stroke, and remained paralyzed for the rest of his life; he died in 1955. He is said to have sung opera with the San Carlo Opera Company, but it could never be proved and will likely be a legend; another version of the story has it that he had signed a contract with them, but didn't appear on stage in the end.

He was certainly one of the most exciting and virtuoso cantors of all time, a purely lyrical tenor voice with an absolutely extraordinary technique.

Reference 1, reference 2: (defunct), reference 3, reference 4, reference 5

Joseph Shlisky singsLes pêcheurs de perles: Je crois entendre encore, in Yiddish

Joseph Shlisky singsLa Juive: Rachel, quand du Seigneur, in Yiddish

Joseph Shlisky singsReboynu shel oylam (composer unknown)

Joseph Shlisky singsTikanto shabos (Posner)

Picture of Joseph Shlisky's 78
Picture of Joseph Shlisky's 78
Picture of Joseph Shlisky's 78
Picture of Joseph Shlisky's 78

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