Herman Jadlowker

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Herman (Hermann) Jadlowker (17 July 1877, Riga – 13 May 1953, Tel Aviv) was a leading Latvian-born tenor of Russian (later Israeli) nationality who enjoyed an important international career during the first quarter of the 20th century.

His virtuoso recordings of arias from Idomeneo and Il barbiere di Siviglia, among others, are considered to this day to be classics of the gramophone.

Career and recordings[edit]

In order to escape from a commercial career into which his father tried to force him, Jadlowker ran away from home as a lad of 15. He journeyed to Vienna, where he studied classical singing with Josef Gänsbacher. In 1899 (some sources say 1897), he made his operatic début at Cologne in Kreutzer's Nachtlager von Granada. He then secured engagements in Stettin and then at Karlsruhe. Here the German Emperor William (Kaiser Wilhelm II) heard him and was so impressed that he offered the tenor a five-year contract at the Royal Opera in Berlin. Apart from Berlin, Jadlowker sang also in Stuttgart, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Vienna, Lemberg, Prague, Budapest and Boston during the course of his career.

In 1910 and 1912, Jadlowker appeared at the New York Metropolitan Opera House, where he proved to be one of the company's most versatile artists although his performances were overshadowed by those of the great Enrico Caruso.

He returned to Europe prior to the outbreak of World War I and continued his operatic career in a number of German cities. During the 1920s, Jadlowker sang increasingly on the concert platform and, in 1929, he was chosen to be chief cantor at the Riga synagogue. Jadlowker subsequently became a voice teacher at the Riga Conservatory before emigrating to Palestine with his wife in 1938. He taught in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, dying in the latter city at the age of 75.

Jadlowker possessed a dark-hued, lyric-dramatic tenor voice of extraordinary flexibility. His agile vocal technique enabled him to sing runs, trills and other coloratura embellishments with astonishing ease and accuracy (although the basic timbre of his voice was not sweet or seductive). He made a large number of records in Europe and America across a 20-year period, commencing in 1907. Most of these recordings—which include arias by composers as diverse as Mozart, Auber, Verdi, Rossini and Wagner—can be heard on CD reissues, mainly on the Marston and Preiser labels.

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