Lewis Moss, Adon ‘Olam (A Hebrew Hymn)

For choir, organ, harmonium, or pianoforte, Sydney 1867.
Edited by Richard Divall
Australian Music Series – MDA018
ISBN 978-0-9923957-7-3 / ISMN 979-0-9009643-7-3

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Australia’s first notable Jewish composer was Isaac Nathan. A musician, journalist and composer he was born in 1790 in Canterbury, England, the son of a Polish cantor. Nathan arrived in Sydney in 1841. However several other composers wrote works for Jewish services or for special occasions such as the consecration of Synagogues in Hobart, Launceston, Ballarat and Sydney. This volume contains one of three early works that are known to us. The music is simple, but of social importance to the development of organised Judiac religion in early Australia.

Lewis Moss died in 1875, aged seventy, and had arrived in Sydney from San Francisco in the 1850’s. In 1854 he advertised in the Sydney Morning Herald as being a ‘Music and Music Instrument Importer’ and his shop was based at 5 Hunter Street, Sydney. He composed little music, but he was featured as a pianist at concerts and a reed organ imported by him from Alexandre Pere et Fils (Paris), is held in the Powerhouse Museum. The Hymn Adon ‘Olam (Adon Gnolam on the original score), is a well-known Hebrew text, still in use today.

Other composers followed in writing works for Synagogues in Australia, and these include Alfred Hill’s works for the Great Synagogue in Sydney, and Felix Werder’s imaginative psalm settings, written in Melbourne, and now held in the National Library of Australia.