Cantor Samuel Malavsky, born in Kiev, was well known for singing with his sons and daughters in concert in the 1940’s and 1950’s, long before women cantors were accepted even in non-orthodox synagogues. Malavsky insisted on giving his daughters respect due to cantors as well. In concerts Malavsky’s daughters, and not just Malavsky, would sing with tallit and kippah. Several prayer tunes were composed with “boy alto” solos so that his daugher Goldie could sing. Some had soprano solos as well. Malavsky’s music may be some of the earliest cantorial settings deliberately composed for the female cantorial voice.
During World War II, they sang the High Holidays in San Francisco. The family frequently lead Passover seders in the Catskills as well. But in general, opportunties to use their skills to lead prayer were limited. Orthodox synagogues would not allow him to sing with his daughters. Conservative synagogues welcomed the family as a group, but Malavsky did not like the changes to liturgy. He found his solution singing in hotels, music halls. Sometimes the same Orthodox rabbis who would not let Malavsky and his daughters sing in their shuls would come to the concert at the hotel.
The family also did numerous recordings and even cinema shorts, as in this clip below (song starts at 0:56).
- The family choir, known as “The Singers of Israel” performed ….
- Malavsky’s cantorial style was known for its strong marked beat and syncopation. (jewish virtual library)
- Goldie Malavsky : her own album – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fThlJSU-6EU , singing Ich Baink Ahaim
Some other songs by the Malavsky family:
- Yedid Nefesh : Malavksy as soloist accompanied by soloist
- Ribon HaOlamim : solo by Malavsky, no choir, but very beautiful classical chazzanut, shabbat song typically sung between shalom aleichem and eshet chayil
- Tzur MiShelo Achalnu : Shabbat table song, sung after eating. (clip above)
- Vchol Boei Olam : solos by both Malavsky, a daughter and the family choir
- Tzena Tzena – Israeli folk song
For more about the “The Singers of Israel”, see
- Jewish Virtual Library
- “The Khazntes–The Life Stories of Sophie Kurtzer, Bas Sheva, Sheindele the Khaznte, Perele Feig, Goldie Malavsky, and Fraydele Oysher”, Journal of Synagogue Music.