Moishe Oysher sings “Kol Nidrei” – 1939 Yiddish film
From the 1939 Yiddish film “Overture To Glory” (Der Vilner Shtot Khazn “The Vilnius City Cantor”).
Questionably described by Hal Erikson in his “All Movie Guide” as “one of the last Yiddish-language films produced in the United States” (and the first American film of German director Max Nosseck) Overture to Glory stars the great musical performer and Cantor, Moishe Oysher.
Starring Helen Beverly and Florence Weiss (Oysher’s wife), with a musical score by Alexander Oshanetsky, Oysher is the “Vilner Balabesl”, a cantor in Vilnius, with a renowned voice. Two men come from the Warsaw Opera to hear him sing in the Rosh Hashanah service and are so impressed that they introduce him to European classical music and to reading sheet music; they convince him, against the wishes of much of his family (and especially his father-in-law) to become an opera singer in Warsaw. He leaves his job as the Vilnius cantor, and seems at first to be on the path to fame and fortune as an opera star in Warsaw, when the news arrives that his son has died. Grief-stricken, he stumbles over the aria he is supposed to sing, starting instead into a lullaby he used to sing to his son. In disgrace, he also loses his voice; he tries to return to his life in Vilna; finally, his voice comes briefly back to him on Yom Kippur. He sings the first few lines of the “Kol Nidrei”, then dies of a heart attack.
Reviews: “…one of the major events of the Jewish cinema… Moishe Oysher’s voice is truly magnificent….” The New York Post “The entire film is done with exquisite restraint… Moishe Oysher’s acting and singing are excellent… the music is magnificent, the finest that Alexander Olshanetsky has ever written… truly an artstic and beautiful triumph of the Yiddish cinema….” William Edline, The Day (Der Tag) “Seldom has the Jewish faith been more nobly and beautifully espoused as it is in this film….
A milestone in the course of Yiddish film making.” Robert W. Dana, The New York Herald Tribune.