||Unusual musical dedicatory certificate given to Moritz Becker upon laying of the groundstone of the new synagogue in Konigsberg. It mentions the great Italian composer, Salamone Rossi Hebreo, whose composition comprises the body of the certificate. It also quotes the first line of Psalm 127 “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain (Wenn Gott, der Herr, das Haus nicht bauet)” and gives the date of 27 May 1894. The certificate names the signatory official as Ed. Birnbaum. There are two pages of musical notes (bars) with the text of Psalm 127 in German for the Psalm to be sung according to the composition of Rossi, and, on the final page, fourteen explanatory notes identifying the individuals and other songs to be sung at the dedication.
Salamone Rossi was a rabbi and composer; lived in Mantua during the latter part of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century. He came from an old Mantua family in which the traditional belief had been preserved that its ancestors had been taken as prisoners to Rome under Titus and Vespasian. In 1587 Rossi was engaged as musician and singer at the ducal court of Vincenze I. of Mantua, where his sister Europa was employed as a singer. That Rossi stood in high favor at this court is evidenced by the fact that he was allowed to appear in public without the yellow badge which other Mantua Jews were at that time obliged to wear. Rossi was a skilled contrapuntist, and he worked assiduously to compose synagogal music with which the old sacred melodies of Zion might be harmoniously combined. His "Ha-Shirim Asher li-Shelomoh" (Venice, 1622) gives evidence of the success he attained; and it has been said that Leon of Modena and other Italian rabbis were influenced by Rossi when they issued their letter (1605) authorizing the introduction into the synagogue of mensurate and polyphonic music. Rossi's other compositions comprised chiefly religious poems, hymns, and madrigals; he wrote also a musical drama entitled "Maddalena." Several of his poems were dedicated to persons of princely rank. It is likely that Rossi in 1612 was the leader of a Jewish band of singers, and likewise of a theatrical company.
Eduard Birnbaum (Asher Anshel, 1855–1920) was a German cantor and one of the early research workers in Jewish music. Born in Cracow, he spent three years in Vienna studying ḥazzanut with Solomon Sulzer . In 1872 he was appointed assistant cantor of the Magdeburg community. Two years later he became chief cantor of Beuthen, where his duties allowed him to travel to other cities and meet cantors and scholars. He started to collect printed and manuscript music, literature and documents, which became source material for his research and led directly to his critical essay on the Baal T'fillah of Abraham Baer (Das juedische Literaturblatt, nos. 24 and 27, 1878). In 1879, Birnbaum succeeded Ẓvi Hirsch Weintraub as chief cantor of Koenigsberg and held this position till his death. Many young cantors came to study with him and some were stimulated to undertake research. He conducted educational work among cantors and teachers by means of lectures and the publication of printed material (Liturgische Uebungen, 2 vols., 1900, 1912). He also composed liturgical works, some of which were published after his death (Aseh le-Ma'an, Ha-Melekh, Kedushah, Lekhah Dodi in the supplements of Der juedische Kantor, 1927–31). Birnbaum's most important achievements were his writings and the "Birnbaum collection", subsequently acquired by the Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati. These contain his thematic catalogue of synagogal melodies, comprising about 7,000 cards, and his collection of references to music in rabbinic texts.