David Moshe Steinberg

Born on 6 October 1871 in Chişinău, he early started to sing in the choir of the synagogue where his father was a prayer leader, and got his father to let him go to Odessa so as to study cantorial singing. He was the elder brother of Arnold Georgievskij.

In 1902 Steinberg took his first big post in Odessa's Ahrele Synagogue, moved on to Berditchev, then to Vilnius, returning to Odessa as cantor of the Great Synagogue in 1910. He remained in Odessa for fourteen years.

In 1924 Steinberg emigrated to America, holding positions at the Brisker's Synagogue of Newark, the Montefiore Synagogue of the Bronx (three years), and the Woodrow Avenue Synagogue of Boston. In 1929 Paramount Pictures made him a handsome offer to appear in the new talking films, which he declined.

While on a concert tour in London in 1932, he was persuaded to return to Vilnius and remained in Europe for five years, one of which he spent in Chernivtsi.

In 1937 Steinberg returned to New York and officiated at the Hebrew Institute of University Heights until his death on 27 November 1941 at the age of 70.

Steinberg was a composing cantor, meaning that he typically sang self-composed music (although for some of his recordings, no composer is known, I'm pretty sure they're all his own compositions); more than that, he was so important as a composer that his music was also sung by others, for example by Joseph Schmidt, among whose few cantorial recordings we find two pieces written by Steinberg.

David Moshe Steinberg singsHamavir bonov (his own composition)
This is a fascinating piece of music... authorship is not a big deal in Jewish cantorial music, and very often, the "crucial phrases" of a prayer are re-used, whether their original composer is still known or not, in many different versions of that prayer, where most of the music is a new composition (e.g. by the executing cantor himself), but not those few lines that make the prayer recognizable.
In this piece, Steinberg does precisely the same with a melody that opera lovers will easily recognize: Ô Dieu, Dieu de nos pêres from La Juive...

David Moshe Steinberg singsZaro chayo (probably his own composition, as well)
Source for the biographical information, the picture and the recordings.

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