ZEIDEL ROVNER, 1856-1943
Zeidel Rovner was born in Radomyshl, Ukraine, in 1856, as Jacob Samuel Morogowski. The Makarover Rebbe, Jacob Isaac Twersky, encouraged him to become a cantor. Zeidel’s fame began to spread when he was 16, after he officiated at High Holiday services at Rabbi Twersky’s insistence. He then began to study music formally with a choir member from the town synagogue, and practiced music while working in his father-in-law’s business as a flour merchant. It was at this time that he wrote his first composition, “Titbarakh la-netsakh.” Through his business connections he was invited to officiate for the High Holidays in Kiev, where he led services in a number of synagogues over the holidays. At this time Rabbi Twersky recommended that he leave the flour business and devote himself entirely to the cantorate. Zeidel reluctantly acceded to this request.
Zeidel went to Rovno in 1882, where he studied theory, and began to compose seriously. Between 1882 and 1914 he served as a cantor in the cities of Kishinev, Berdichev, Lemberg, Rovno, and London, where he also gave concerts. He became known as “Rovner” from the time he spent in Rovno. In 1914, as conditions worsened in Europe, he went to the United States. After World War I ended, he planned to return to Europe. When his American admirers wondered why he was returning to Europe, he replied that America is not suited for traditional cantors, and that he would not be able to make a living. This group decided to create a fund to publish Rovner’s compositions in order to insure his finances, and the organization “Der otsar ha-neginah fun Zeidel Rovner” (The musical treasury of Zeidel Rovner) was created. Unfortunately the project never came to fruition, and despite great effort, he had difficulty supporting himself in the United States.
Zeidel Rovner was a prolific, popular composer who published and recorded some of his works, and left many behind in manuscript.
The Collection also includes manuscripts of Zeidel Rovner’s son Elias.
The Collection was donated to the Cantorial Training Institute of Yeshiva University by Zeidel Rovner’s grandson, Mr. Henry G. Morrow, in 1956.
- Morgovsky, Micah Floryn. The Life and Music of Zeidel Rovner: Threading song through the fabric of time. Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of requirements for Master of Sacred Music Degree. Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, School of Sacred Music. New York, New York, 2006.
- Ne'eman, Joshua Leib. "Morogowski, Jacob Samuel." Encyclopaedia Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. 2nd ed. Vol. 14. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 507-508. Gale Virtual Reference Library.
- Perlmutter, Sholem. “Ya’akov Shemu’el Maragovsky – Zaydel Rovner.” Di geshikhṭe fun ḥazoneś : aroysgegeben tsum 30 yohrigen yubileum fun Agudas̀ Ḥazonim di-Ameriḳah ṿe-Ḳanadah, Zunṭog dem 3ṭen Februar, 1924. [The History of Hazzanuth]. New York: Jewish Ministers Cantors Association of America, 1924, p. 92-94 (in Yiddish)
- Vigoda, Samuel. Legendary Voices: the fascinating lives of the great cantors. Vol. 1. New York: S. Vigoda, 1981, p. 196-245.