Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

Nissan Spivak

SPIVAK, NISSAN (known as "Nissi Belzer"; 1824–1906). Lithuanian cantor and composer. Spivak sang in the choir of Yeruḥam *Blindman, whose cousin he married, and became cantor in Belz, where he acquired his additional name. Later he was cantor in Kishinev and, from 1877 until his death, in Berdichev. He was largely self-taught, and although his voice was impaired by an accident in childhood, he became widely known because of his talents as a composer and choral conductor. His vocal limitation actually led him to develop a new style of synagogue music. Instead of using the choir merely for accompaniment and responses, he assigned to them long ensembles with solos and duets and reduced the role of the cantor to a minimum. He also took his choir on visits to other towns and the courts of ḥasidic rabbis. Successful as a teacher, he attracted many young cantors to study with him at Berdichev. His own compositions were preserved by his pupils. Two of them were published in Idelsohn's Hebraeisch-orientalischer Melodienschatz (bibl.).


Prachtenberg, in: Jewish Ministers-Cantors Association of America, History of Hazanuth (1924), 163; Idelsohn, Melodien, 8 (1932), XXII–XXIII, nos. 250, 251; Friedmann, Lebensbilder, 3 (1927), 129; Sendrey, Music, indexes.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.