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Max Janowski

JANOWSKI, MAX (1912–1991), cantor, composer, conductor. A native of Berlin, Janowski was born into a musical family. His mother, Miriam, was an opera singer and his father, Chayim, led choirs and trained cantors. He studied at the Schwarenka Conservatory in Berlin. In 1933 he won a piano contest that led to his appointment in Tokyo as head of the Piano Department of the Mosashino Academy of Music – and his escape from Nazi Germany. He remained in Japan for four years before immigrating to the United States in 1937. He became the musical director of KAM Isaiah Israel Congregation in Chicago in 1938. It was to remain his home for his entire career, except for a four-year sojourn in Navy intelligence from 1942 to 1946.

As a composer he is most famous for Avinu Malkeinu and Sim Shalom. They are among the 500 compositions, which include choir and orchestra pieces, cantatas, and oratorios, that he published during his prolific career. His works are popular and moving for both the congregation and the audience. He founded Friends of Jewish Music, which was responsible for the publication of his work.

Though well-rooted in a Reform Congregation, Janowski was honored by Hebrew Union College's School of Sacred Music, the Cantor's Assembly of the Conservative Movement, and the United Synagogue of America, now called the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.