Herman Mayerowitsch was a key figure in London Jewish life for some 24 years, during which time he served as Reader at the Great Synagogue, Duke’s Place.
He was born in Derazina, Ukraine, in 1882, and studied music at the Conservatoire in Vienna.He later occcupied the position of Professor of Singing at the Seminary, and was for eight years chief cantor at one of the principle Synagogues in Vienna. He was also at one time, President of the Music Lovers’ Orchestral Society of Vienna.
Throughout the First World War he served in the army and subsequent to that, when conditions became unsettled in Vienna, he came to England and was appointed Second Reader at the Great Synagogue, in succession to the Rev A. E. Gordon.
Herman Mayerowitsch came to be regarded as one of the most authoritative of Chazanim in his knowledge of the traditions and development of Chazanut. He was Lecturer in Chazanut at Jews’ College and President of the Chazanim Association.
In collaboration with the Rev G. Prince he prepared musical notation to the cantillation of the Torah and the Haftara, which is appended to Chief Rabbi Hertz’s Commentary to the Pentateuch.
In 1937 he published ‘Oneg Shabbos’ an Anthology of Ancient Hebrew Table Songs (Zemiroth). [see below for the introduction to this book].
He was in great demand as lecturer on Jewish music at both Jewish and non-Jewish societies. At the Great Synagogue he often occupied the pulpit at a moment’s notice, and so became Chazan-Minister at Duke’s Place.
A large number of communal organizations benefitted from his keen support. He founded the Jewish Communal Restaurant in Whitechapel Road, was Chairman of the East London branch of the Federation of Jewish Relief Qrganisations, a member of the Welfare Committee of the United Synagogue, and Vice-President of the Central London Young Israel Society. During war he acted as air-raid warden in the danger zone of the City, and took part in rescuing some of the property of the Great Synagogue when it was destroyed.
He and his wife were foster parents to two of the sons of the late Rev A Katz, a former colleague at the Great Synagogue.
Herman Mayerowitsch died after a very short illness at the early age of 63. After his death his music collection came to the library of Jews’ College, and is still known as the Myerowitsch Collection.