||This is a musical composition for a string quartet, which was published in London, New York and Berlin. Samuel Alman (1877-1947) was a choir director and composer responsible for introducing the Eastern European synagogue style into the English service. He was born in Podolia, Russia, and in 1895 began his musical studies at the Odessa Conservatory of Music. Subsequently he served for four years as a musician in the Russian Army. In 1905, he emigrated to London where he continued his musical studies at the Royal College of Music. In London he served as choirmaster of the Daltan, Great, Duke's Place, and Hampstead Synagogues, the Halevi Choral Society, and the London Hazzanim Choir.
The music of the United Synagogue received a fresh new impetus with the arrival of Samuel Alman. Between 1895 and 1903 he studied music at conservatories in Odessa and Kishinev. Conscripted into the Russian army, he served as a bandsman. Following the Kishinev pogrom he came to England in 1906 and continued his studies at the Guildhall School of Music. He gained the ARCM in 1910.
Already many Jews had arrived from Eastern Europe and, finding the established Anglo-Jewish davening and musical style not to their taste, had formed their own synagogues. Alman's achievement was to create a synthesis of the older Anglo-Jewish style with the musical expression of these relative newcomers. He became choirmaster first at Dalston synagogue and then at the Duke's Place. In 1911 he completed his biblical grand opera in Yiddish, King Ahaz, which was performed to much acclaim the following year.
In 1916 began his long career as choirmaster at Hampstead, working with the hazan, Wolf Stoloff. In 1921 there appeared his first group of Hebrew songs, and in 1925 his first large volume of synagogue music for the sabbath, followed in 1933 by the second volume for the high festivals. When Stoloff was succeeded in 1931 by Gershon Boyars, there began a musical partnership in which each inspired the other. Alman's style for hazan was in the South Russian tradition of recitative. But while his many choral compositions also reflect this eastern nusach, his musical training enabled him to introduce more 20th-century harmony. He added an important Supplement to the 'Blue Book', re-arranging much of our German-style shul music with correct Hebrew and phrasing. He founded the Halevi Choral Society for which he wrote many of his four-part mixed choir pieces, and also conducted the Hazanim Choir. His concert works include a string quartet 'Ebraica', and a set of organ preludes based on Jewish themes.
Among compositions for which we remember him are his Rosh Hodesh bensching, his Sefirat haOmer, and perhaps best-loved for its pathos, his Shomeir Yisroel. Outside the synagogue he set very many Yiddish and Hebrew songs, still favourites among choirs. But in synagogues today his compositions are not so often heard because of the lack of choirs capable of performing them.
Alman's influence, partly on account of the 'Blue Book', was felt throughout the Jewish world. When he was due to retire, the United Synagogue resolved to create a new post for him as the U.S. Director of Music. But he died only weeks later at the age of 69.