Cantor Shmuel Barzilai
"The Jewish culture is a part of Austria's cultural Identity.
Chief cantor Barzilai represents Austria’s culture and is due that an Ambassador of the Republic of Austria for decades״
Austrian Minister of Culture Thomas Drozda, 2017
Mag. Shmuel Barzilai - Chief Cantor of Vienna’s Jewish Community
Shmuel Barzilai was born in Jerusalem in a family of renowned cantors and is the grandson of Cantor Rabbi Jacob Eisenbach (Pester). He studied at the Israel Yeshivot: Beer Yaakov, K’neset Chizkiyahu and Hevron. He received his basic education from the Viennese Cantor Zalman Polak. Barzilai graduated from the Institute of Music and Cantoral Singing in Tel Aviv and studied with world famous cantors like Moshe Stern, Naftali Herstik, Shmuel Taube, Yizchak Eshel and the conductor Elli Jaffe.
He majored in philosophy and Judaic studies at the University of Vienna where he received
his Master’s degree.
Since 1992 Shmuel Barzilai is Chief Cantor of the Vienna Jewish Community.
Shmuel Barzilai is invited to sing and perform in the most significant concert halls worldwide for instance: Musikverein and Konzerthaus in Vienna, Mozarteum and Landestheater in Salzburg, Prinzregententheater in Munich, Tonhalle in Zurich, Heichal ha Tarbut in Tel Aviv,
Jerusalem Theater, NGV (National Gallery Victoria” in Melbourne), Opera House in Belgrade, Bratislava and Kosice etc.
Barzilai sang with philharmonic and symphonic orchestras throughout Europe, Israel and the U.S.
Solo performances all over the World: USA, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Austria, Hungary, France, Germany, Poland, Italy. Romania and the Klezmer Festival in Safed marked his international career.
He sang the prayer “El Maleh Rachamim” accompanied by the Viennese Philharmonic Orchestra at the legendary memorial service “Mauthausen 2000”. He appeared before the United Nations in New York on International Remembrance Day 2014, commemorating the victims of holocaust. The keynote speaker at this venue was Steven Spielberg.
On 14th July 2017 Shmuel Barzilai was awarded the "Golden Badge of Honor for services rendered to the Republic of Austria " by Thomas Drozda, Minister of Culture. The minister paid tribute to the fact that Chief Cantor Barzilai has represented Jewish culture in Austria and has been an ambassador for the Republic of Austria for decades.
On September 2018 Shmuel Barzilai was awarded a second time for the "Golden Badge of Honor for services rendered to the City of Vienna" by Michael Häupl, the City Mayor.
Shmuel Barzilai was often guest on domestic and foreign television.
His repertoire includes liturgical cantoral music, Jewish soul music, Hassidic and Klezmer music, Israeli and classical songs, as well as opera arias.
Barzilai´s proficiency is also demonstrated by the many CD’s he has recorded, like compositions of the world famous Cantor Salomon Sulzer ( 1804 – 1890 ) with the Vienna Boys Choir in February 2000 and five CD’s accompanied by the “S.F.Y. Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir”, conducted by Mordechai Sobol - “Sound of Prayer”, “Song and Prayer” “A New Light”, “Areshet Sefateinu” and “Sh’ma Israel”.
His profound musical and religious knowledge is best demonstrated in his book, “Chassidic Ecstasy in Music”, published in 2007.
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