Israël Lovy (1773-1832)

By Hervé Roten*

Born into a lineage of cantors from Poland and Pomerania, Israël Lovy is born August 31st 1773 in Schottland, near Dantzig. Eldest of a brotherhood of six children, he receives a religious and musical education. Besides singing that he does in Głogów’s yeshiva in which his father is cantor, the young boy learns violin without telling his father.

With his quite uncommon bass voice and great musical intelligence, the young man travels through Europe with two singing helpers. The audition of Haydn’s Creation in Vienna encourages him to study the music of Haydn and Mozart and to start learning musical composition.

From 1799 to 1806, he is hired to be cantor in the rich community of Fürth (Bavaria). He studies piano, cello, Italian and French, and starts to sing in concert pieces of work of art music (Haydn, Mozart…).

Between 1806 and 1817, Lovy sings in the synagogues of Mainz, Strasbourg and London. In 1818 he is entitled as a cantor in London, and makes a stop in Paris where he performs in synagogues as well as in private or public concerts. He knows such a big success that he is hired by the Paris Consistoire, and becomes chief cantor of the new temple on rue Notre Dame de Nazareth in 1822. For ten years he will organize the musical cult of this first consistorial temple by introducing many musical items from classical music (choral singing accompanied by the organ, composition of new songs in major or minor mode, etc.).

Hit by a breast disease, he dies on January 7th 1832, at the age of 59, and is buried in the North-Montmartre cemetary of Paris.


*Excerpt translated from the article written by Hervé Roten, « Le patrimoine musical de la Grande Synagogue de la Victoire », The synagogue of la Victoire, 150 years of French judaism, Porte-plume editions, 2017

Listen to the playlist dedicated to Israël Lovy

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