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Manfred Lewandowski Collection

Identifier: AR 7027

Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the life and work of cantor and musician Manfred Lewandowski. In addition it provides some information on the Lewandowski family in Germany and its genealogy. The collection primarily consists of correspondence, newspaper clippings and copies of photographs, but also includes small amounts of sheet music, professional and official documents, family trees, notes, certificates and an essay. The structure of series was based upon a pre-existing inventory; the final series of the collection originally constituted a separate collection incorporated into this one at a later date.

The most prominent topic of the collection is Manfred Lewandowski's professional career, especially following his immigration to the United States. Documentation on responses to his most well-known compositions and their performances and radio broadcasts, specifically of "If I Forget Thee, O Jerusalem" and "Shalom-Shalom," will be found in nearly every series in the collection. The search for and distribution of recordings destroyed by the Nazis is another prevalent topic. Series II, which holds the majority of his correspondence, frequently addresses both of these subjects and includes some letters with dignitaries to whom he sent recordings of some of his songs. Related is also the folder of professional correspondence in Series III, as is its folder of publicity material, which includes transcripts from broadcasts of radio programs that featured his work. A number of clippings in Series IV mention the performance of his work, or advertise programs in which it was played, in addition to the many biographical articles on Manfred Lewandowski. The copies of photographs that comprise Series V include photographs of Lewandowski with famous individuals or with musicians who performed his music. Publicity correspondence, extracts of broadcast transcripts and newspaper clippings in Series VI additionally relate to the above-mentioned subjects.

Some material on the Lewandowski family is present in this collection. Series I includes photocopies related to other well-known family members, such as copies of titles of their work, as well as notes on the family genealogy and a family tree. Series VI holds further genealogical material.

Manfred Lewandowski's early career in Germany as well as his immigration is documented in one folder in Series I. This includes some of his French identification and immigration papers and his contract as cantor with the Berlin Jewish Community, among other papers.


  • 1821-1995
  • Majority of material found within 1955-1965


Language of Materials

The collection is in German, English, Hebrew and French.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:

Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011


Biographical Note<extptr actuate="onload" altrender="Portrait of Manfred Lewandowski (1895-1970)" href="" linktype="simple" show="embed" title="Portrait of Manfred Lewandowski (1895-1970)"/>

Manfred Lewandowski was born on September 1, 1895 in Hamburg, a son of Isidor Lewandowski, cantor (hazzan) of the Warburg Synagogue and later the Beneckestrasse Synagogue, and his wife Dara Peichert. The Lewandowski family contained a number of cantors, the most well-known being Manfred's great-uncle Louis Lewandowski. In 1903 Manfred Lewandowski first entered the choir of the Beneckestrasse Synagogue. Three years later he became a meshorer (choir singer) under Yossele Rosenblatt. By the time he was seventeen he was officiating at holiday services in Wilhelmshaven as an assistant cantor (Hilfsvorbeter).

On June 21, 1915 he enlisted in the military, where he served in the Ninth Dragoon Regiment and also as a cantor at holiday services on the front in France. In July 1917 Manfred Lewandowski was released from the army and returned to Hamburg. There he continued to study cantorial music and from 1918-1920 served as assistant cantor in Bremen. In 1920 the cantor Eduard Birnbaum of Königsberg died and Manfred Lewandowski was selected as his successor. Three years later he was called to Berlin to be the chief cantor and music director of the newly-built Friedenstempel (Temple of Peace). In 1928 he became chief cantor of the Lindenstrasse Synagogue in Berlin, remaining there until 1938, when he was invited to Berne and then Paris, where he officiated for a time at the Temple Rue de la Victoire de la Communauté Israélite de Paris.

In addition to his work as cantor, Manfred Lewandowski also performed as a secular musician. In 1915 he first appeared as a soloist with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Wilhelmshaven. In 1924 the first radio station in Berlin was established and Manfred Lewandowski was among the first singers on the Berlin Radio Hour (Berliner Funkstunde). By the late 1920s he was mentioned regularly in the press and became engaged by several record labels to record his music, including Odeon, Electrola and in 1927 the Homophon Company. The rise of the Nazis to power in 1933 halted this area of his career when the Reichskammer forbid Jews to perform for the German public or on broadcasting stations. The Homophon company was closed and all masters of their records demolished.

In 1939 Manfred Lewandowski came to New York and in June 1940 became cantor at the Congregation Emanu-El in Philadelphia, the city in which he resided until his death. Beginning in 1946 he officiated only on High Holidays in various eastern U.S. cities. Following the war he spent many years reassembling copies of his recordings that the Nazis had destroyed. In 1953 some of these were first broadcast on American radio on the Frank Ford show.

Manfred Lewandowski also created his own compositions, mainly for the synagogue but also some for secular use. Many of his compositions were never published. Those that were include his 1942 "Prayer for Victory," performed at victory rallies and his 1958 "If I Forget Thee, O Jerusalem/ Im Eshkoheh Yerushalayim" in honor of the State of Israel's tenth anniversary. This work was sung on the maiden voyage of the Israeli S.S. Jerusalem and was also performed by, among others, Richard Tucker of the Metropolitan Opera and Marian Anderson. In 1964 Lewandowski first performed "Shalom-Shalom" on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, a piece that was given to various dignitaries such as Konrad Adenauer and Harry Truman and which received much acclaim in the press as well as performances and broadcasts on German radio.

Manfred Lewandowski died in 1970.


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The Manfred Lewandowski Collection documents the professional life of cantor Manfred Lewandowski with a focus on some of his more prominent compositions. It additionally holds some genealogical material on the Lewandowski family. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence, newspaper clippings and copies of photographs; also included are sheet music, official and professional documentation including certificates, family trees and genealogical notes, and an essay on cantorial music.

Other Finding Aid

A 3-page folder-level inventory exists for Series I-V, reflecting its prior arrangement. This online finding aid is based on this prior arrangement.

Related Material

The LBI Archives include the small Louis Lewandowski Collection, AR 283; the LBI Library contains music by him.

Separated Material

Many photographs were removed to the LBI Photograph Collection. Most of the photographs in this collection are duplicates of those located in the Photograph Collection.

Processing Information

An earlier inventory existed for most of this collection with pre-existing series. Therefore Series I-V is based upon the series arrangement already established for this collection, with some larger folders further subdivided. Series VI was originally a separate collection (AR 1923) incorporated into AR 7027 at a later date. The collection was separated into two boxes during processing due to conservation concerns.

Guide to the Papers of Manfred Lewandowski (1895-1970) 1821-1995 AR 7027
Processed by Dianne Ritchey and LBI Staff
© 2013
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from ManfredLewandowski.xml

Revision Statements

  • August 19, 2014 : Links to digital objects added in Container List.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States