JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: Cantor Training in France #general


In a message dated 99-02-23 20:03:55 EST, writes:

<< Is anyone aware of what schools would have existed in France in the
1800's for training cantors?
==I can't answer that one, but the French composer Jacques Offenbach (Gaiete
Parisienne, Orpheus in the Underworld), whose "real name" was Jakob Eberscht,
originally trained as a cantor. His father, also a cantor, developed many
cantorial melodies. A biographical entry for Offenbach may give you a clue.
Like all things Jewish in France, it is likely that there was one school in
Paris and a parallel one in Alsace.

The whole question may be moot, however. I doubt there were any "schools" for
cantors at that time. A cantor would be someone with a good voice who was a
synagogue regular and had been leading prayers on and off since youth. He
might find himself a voice teacher, perhaps apprentice to another cantor--or
just make a point to hearing as many cantors as possible. Cantors do not
require ordination or any other kind of certification; all that was required
was a knowledge of the rules concerning prayers, and an awareness of the
nusach (set tunes) that were standards in that community.

Few could make a living as just cantors. Usually, the congregation's cantor
would be expected to double as a teacher, and sometimes also as ritual
slaughterer and mohel. There were many Jewish teachers' seminaries across
Western Europe. Ritual slaughtering and circumcisions usually required
training first in a (adult) Yeshiva, followed by a brief apprenticeship.

Michael Bernet, New York

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