Abraham Frachtenberg, 1861-1927

Abraham Frachtenberg was born in Kamenetz-Podolsk, Ukraine, in 1861.  He started singing at age 9. When he was 16, his family moved to Tarnopol, Galicia,  where he  studied with Yeruchom Ha-Koton (Blindman),  and also learned to read musical notes. He later served as a choral director to some of the great European cantors including his mentor, Yeruchom Ha-Koton (Blindman),  as well as Nissi Belzer (Spivak), Boruch Schorr, and Jacob Bachman.

Frachtenberg was one of the leading cantor-composers and choral directors in Eastern Europe.  He was an outstanding example of the nineteenth century cantor of the chor-shul (choral synagogue).

Frachtenberg immigrated to the United States in 1901 where he officiated in prominent synagogues on the Lower East Side and in Brooklyn.  He had a sweet lyrical bass voice, and when the cantorial style in American synagogues switched to a preference for tenors, Cantor Frachtenberg became a conductor.  It is noteworthy that although he first studied music theory only when he came to America, he was already known as one of the greatest composers of liturgical music while still living in Galicia.

The Cantorial Training Institute acquired the Frachtenberg manuscript collection from Morris Leidner in 1968.  Excerpts from the unpublished manuscripts were performed at a concert organized by the Yeshiva University’s Cantorial Training Institute on December 19, 1968.

Sources:

C.C.A. Bulletin, published by [the] Cantorial Council of America, Yeshiva University, v. 6, no. 1, September 1968, p. 4

C.C.A. Bulletin, v. 7, no. 2, December 1968, p. 1

“Hazan Avraham Frakhtenberg.” Agudas̀ ha-Ḥazonim di-Ameriḳah ṿe-Ḳanadah, Zunṭog dem 3ṭen Februar, 1924. [The History of Hazzanuth]. New York: Jewish Ministers Cantors Association of America, 1924, p. 162 (in Yiddish)

 “Rare Collection of Liturgical Music Acquired by Cantorial Training Institute.” September 5, 1968. Yeshiva University News. 

 “Rare Collection of Synagogue Music to be performed for First Time in Fifty Years at Yeshiva University.”  December 11, 1968. Yeshiva University News.