Gershon Ephros

Cantor and composer

Cantor and composer. Gershon Ephros was born in Serotsk, Poland. His father died when he was ten, and Ephros moved to live with his grandfather, Cantor Moses Fromberg. He received his first musical training while being part of his grandfather's choir, traveling and performing in the countryside. At the early age of 17, Ephros became a choir leader in Zgersh.

In 1909, he immigrated to Palestine, where he studied Hazzanuth and harmony with A.Z. Idelsohn, and worked as his choir director. In 1911, he moved to the U.S., where he continued his studies with Herman Spielter and Joseph Achron in New York. In 1918, he was appointed cantor of Congregation Beth El in Norfolk, Virginia, and later became cantor at Congregation Beth Elohim in New York. He finally settled in as cantor at Congregation Beth Mordecai of Perth Amboy, New Jersey, where he officiated from 1927 until his retirement in 1957.

Apart fom his cantorial career, Ephros taught Jewish music in Hebrew schools in New York and at the Hebrew Union College. He officiated as president of the Jewish Music Forum and was a member of the executive board of the National Jewish Music Council. As a composer, Ephros composed many liturgical works, in addition to other vocal and instrumental compositions. Ephros is mostly known for his publication, Cantorial Anthology, a five-volume collection of synagogue compositions for cantor and choir, for the entire yearly cycle. The anthology contains compositions of different Jewish cultural groups, from ancient to contemporary works.

Sources: Encyclopedia Judaica;  The music of Gershon Ephros, Solomon Rosowsky, Heinrich Schalit, Jacob Weinberg /‎  edited by Lewis Appleton.‎

(Written by Ofer Ronen)