As both a historian and composer, Ben Zion Shenker was one of the most important figures in Hassidic music in the last 100 years. In this oral history, Shenker recounts the early musical experiences that led to his becoming the “musical secretary” to the Modzitzer Rebbe, his endeavors in the commercial music world, and his relationships with such seminal contemporaries as Sholomo Carlebach and Richard Tucker.
Part 1: Shenker discusses early life and key musical experiences, including singing in the choir of the great Joshua Weisser, several radio appearances, and becoming the de facto historian of Modzitzer niggunim.
Part 2: Covers Shenker’s ventures in commercial music, some of his most famous compositions, and his relationship with childhood friend, Shlomo Carlebach.
Note: These recordings have been lightly edited to enhance public access.
Date: March 31, 1998
Credit: Milken Family Foundation
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Ben Zion Shenker: Composer and Historian of Hassidic Music