Moshe Koussevitzky (June 9, 1899 in Smarhoń – August 23, 1966 in New York City) was a cantor and vocalist. A relative of noted conductor Sergei Koussevitzky, he made many recordings in Poland and the United States.
Born June 9, 1899, he moved to Vilna in 1920, and served there as cantor at the Sawel Synagogue, and, starting in 1924, at the Great Synagogue of Vilna. In 1927 or 1928 he became cantor of the Tlomackie Synagogue in Warsaw, succeeding Gershon Sirota. Koussevitzky first performed in the United States in 1938, at New York’s Carnegie Hall. He and his family escaped the Nazis during the Holocaust by fleeing to the Soviet Union.
In 1947 Koussevitzky and his family emigrated to the United States. He became cantor of Borough Park, Brooklyn’s Temple Beth-El in 1952, living in Great Neck during the week and in Borough Park on the Sabbath. He died on August 23, 1966, and was buried in Israel.
Moshe Koussevitzky was a lyric tenor with a spectacular and perhaps unparalleled upper register among cantors. Koussevitzky is regarded as among the greatest Cantors of the 20th century. Some would place him first among peers, though that distinction is more often given to Yossele Rosenblatt or Gershon Sirota, both of whom were a generation older than Koussevitzky.
Koussevitzky was one of four brothers, all well-known cantors. David Koussevitzky was cantor of a Conservative synagogue, Temple Emanu-El of Boro Park, only one block away from Moshe’s position at Beth-El. After Moshe’s death, David would continue the tradition Moshe had started, of giving an annual concert at Beth-El on Rosh Chodesh Elul. Jacob and Simcha were not prominent, but not as well known as Moshe and David. Like David, Jacob held positions in Kremenetze, Lemberg, London, Winnipeg, and finally Kew Gardens. Simcha was Cantor in Rovno, Glasgow, London (Great Synagogue), Johannesburg, and Cape Town.In December, 1947, the four brothers held a joint concert at Carnegie Hall.