Cantor-composer, teacher and Thalmudic-scholar. Born in Vilna. Studied Talmud in Courland and cantorial arts in Berdichev with Yeruham Blindman. Officiated as cantor in Slonim (1870-1888) and Grodno (1888-1898). Was a popular cantor and attracted many pupils. Only a small fraction of his many compositions has been preserved (thanks to the work of cantor and researcher Eduard Birnbaum).
A biography of Joseph Altschul exists in Yiddish in Elias Zaludowski's Ḳulṭur-ṭreger fun der Idisher liṭurgye: hisṭorish-biografisher iberbliḳ iber ḥazones̀, ḥazonim un dirizsharn, pages 130-133. For an online version, click here.