Alter Karniol was born in Dzialoszyce, a small province in Poland. He studied under several Hazzanim in Hungary, where he began officiating in a number of local synagogues. He left Hungary for a short while to work at the Ohab Zedek Synagogue in New York, returning to Russia to take a position of chief hazzan at the Great Synagogue in Odessa in 1889. With the onslaught of pogroms in 1905, Karniol left Odessa for New York, where he was re-hired at the Ohab Zedek Synagogue. During his time in New York, Karniol released several recordings of liturgical music and original arrangements of Synagogue melodies.