Kalman Juvelier was born in Lemberg, Eastern Galicia (now Poland), on May 12, 1863. He showed great musical talent as a youth, and by age nine was singing as a meshoyrer (cantorial chorister) with the acclaimed cantor and composer Baruch Schor. In his teens he traveled throughout Galicia performing as a folk singer before landing in the city of Czernovitz, Ukraine, where he started his theatrical career.
After touring Romania and Bukovina as an itinerant actor and singer, he briefly joined Moses “Prof.” Horowitz’s troupe in 1880 before starting his own company. For the next seventeen years Juvelier traveled throughout Europe and North Africa with his own troupe and others, serving stints with Sigmund Mogulesko and Goldfaden. In either 1899 or 1900, he immigrated to New York City where he became the director of the Windsor Theatre, one of the most important landmarks in Yiddish theater in the early twentieth century.
Listen to Kalman Juvelier's "Das Emese Yidishche Harz" (Victor 65152, recorded c. January 1908)
In 1901, Juvelier recorded two sides for Standard Records (later released by the Lambert Company), “Kabed es Ovikho” and “Ben Hador,” the latter a Perlmutter and Wohl composition from Horowitz’s opera of the same name. Listening to “Ben Hador” reveals a seasoned actor in his prime, with Juvelier showcasing a powerful tenor and clear diction refined over nearly three decades of public performance. In all, Juvelier made some 60 recordings throughout his career for Standard Records, United Hebrew Disc and Cylinder, Edison, Zonophone, Victor, and Columbia. A number of these discs feature Juvelier in roles he himself originated on the stage and are the only documentation of those shows.
Listen to Kalman Juvelier's "Ben Hador" (Lambert 188, recorded c. 1904)
For decades Juvelier remained one of the most sought-after performers in American Yiddish theater and regularly shared the spotlight with Boris Thomashefsky, Jacob P. Adler, and David Kessler before retiring in 1935. He also served tenures as director of the Hebrew Actors Union and as vice president of the Jewish Theatrical Alliance.
Juvelier married the actress Bina Abramovich in 1910, with whom had three children. Their daughter, Jeanne, later became a featured mainstream radio actress specializing in ethnic and dialect roles.
He died in Brooklyn at the age of 76.
Scott A. Carter and Henry Sapoznik
Photograph of Kalman Juvelier from Perlmutter, Arnold, Herman Wohl, and Solomon Small. DerTalles. Theodore Lohr, New York, 1906. Notated Music. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <http://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.200154944/>.