Gershon Ephros

Born, Serotsk, Poland (outside of Warwaw), 1890. Died, June 28, 1978, Perth Amboy, NJ. Composer and cantor. Compiler and editor of the Cantorial Anthology (6 volumes) which made Jewish liturgical music for the entire year’s holidays available in print. One of the largest accomplishments of this work was making avaiable alternatives to the florid operetta style music so prevalent at the time. Having studied hazzanut and harmony with Abraham Zvi Idelsohn, he set off on an idealistic quest to find the purest Jewish cantorial music. He developed a type of ethnographic field work, interviewing as many cantors as possible, and copying down all the music they knew. He then painstakingly edited the work. Ephros had come to US in 1911, and later appointed cantor of Congregation Beth-El in Norfolk, Virginia in 1918. Also served congregations in the Bronx and Perth Amboy, New Jersey. A founder and faculty member of the Hebrew Union College School of Sacred Music. Member of ASCAP. The Jewish Music Research Centre at Hebrew University National Library holds his papers and more than 100 scores, both of published and unpublished works. Most of the compositions come from a period between 1925-1977. According to his children, Ephros set the music to Chaim Bialik’s 16 children’s verses in a single day in 1936. His secular and sacred compositions have yet to be assessed and fully explored. For more information about his life, reader’s can refer to an article that appeared in The Jerusalem Post, April 29, 1990, following a concert in Jerusalem of an entire evening of Ephros’s music.