Herman Wohl, along with his songwriting partner Arnold Perlmutter, was a foundational composer in the early years of U.S. Yiddish theater. Drawing upon his religious upbringing and training, Wohl’s compositions bridged the liturgical and secular worlds of Yiddish music.
Wohl was raised in a Hasidic home and began training as a meshoyrer at the age of 9. After several years directing and performing with choirs, he joined Kalman Juvelier’s theater troupe in 1893. He arrived in the US in 1896, first working as a synagogue orchestra conductor before returning to the theater. Moshe Horowitz hired Wohl in 1900, joining Perlmutter as the primary songwriters at the Windsor Theater until 1912 when the team moved to Boris Thomashefsky’s People’s Theater. Over the course of his career, Wohl would publish more than 150 theatrical works.
Never abandoning his involvement in the synagogue, Wohl continued to compose and publish liturgical vocal music until the end of his life and for ten years conducted Yossele Rosenblatt’s choir.
Henry Sapoznik and Scott A. Carter
Image of Herman Wohl from Wohl, Herman, Arnold Perlmutter, and A Shor. DasZiegele. Theodore Lohr, New York, New York, 1904. Notated Music. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <https://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.200185795/>.