He began his career as a member of the local synagogue choir. Quickly lauded as a "wunderkind", or child prodigy, Rosenblatt's solo career was launched. He accepted his first full-time position in Munkacs, Hungary at the age of eighteen. Shortly afterword he relocated to Bratislava. He later occupied a position in Hamburg, Germany.
In 1912 he moved to Harlem to take a position at the Ohab Tsedek orthodox congregation. Rosenblatt's fame extended beyond the Jewish world earning him large concert fees, a singing role in the 1927 film The Jazz Singer, and the sobriquet "The Jewish Caruso". He was known for his extraordinary technique (which he used primarily in cantillation), for the sweetness of his timbre, and for his unique ability to transition from normal voice to falsetto with hardly any noticeable break at all. His technique in cantillation was unique. Notes were hit remarkably accurately at high speeds. Appoggiaturas, similarly, were struck near perfectly, both rhythmically and on pitch. His fame spread so far that Toscanini appealed to him to sing the leading role in Fromental Halévy's La Juive, but Rosenblatt replied that he would only use his vocal gift for the glory of God, in service to his religion.
Notably, he turned down a "Golden Hello" from the Chicago opera house because it violated his religious principles. Rosenblatt corresponded with many of the great tenors of his day. It is told that upon hearing Rosenblatt sing "Elli Elli" Enrico Caruso was so moved that he ascended the stage and kissed him. Rosenblatt perhaps exerted the greatest influence on cantorial music's "Golden Age". He led the transition from the more freestyling cadenza-laden approach prevalent before his era, to a more structured, metered style. Rosenblatt pioneered the use of several cantorial techniques which have subsequently been adopted by cantors around the world.
These include his trademark krekhts, or sob in which he would deliberately allow his voice to crack to convey the emotion of what he was singing. He also developed a realistic soprano falsetto as a method of easing the strain on his overworked voice. A prolific composer, more than one hundred and eighty pieces of his have been preserved. Rosenblatt's great-grandsons include Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Rosenblatt of the Riverdale Jewish Center and Rabbi Andrew Rosenblatt of Congregation Schara Tzedeck in Vancouver. Since the 78 RPM era, Rozenblatt's recordings have been re-issued many times in LP and CD format.
In recent years a set of 3 CDs Od Yosef Chai containing restored versions of 78s of Rosenblatt's performances has been issued by Mostly Music and Galpaz Music, a Brooklyn record store. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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