A Tale of Two Museums
Ester Rachel Kaminska Theater Museum Collection

The Early American Yiddish Theater: Music, Dance, and Pageantry (1880s and 1890s).

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Moyshe Ha-levi Horowitz (1844-1910)
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Actors Benny and Tsipa Abelman in an unidentified historical operetta. n.d.


The Early American Yiddish Theater: Music, Dance, and Pageantry (1880s and 1890s).


The first period of American Yiddish theater is defined by the entrepreneurial work of two composer/impresarios: self-annointed "Professor" Moyshe Hurwitz (pictured above, 1844–1910) and Joseph Lateiner (1853-1935). Both had begun their careers in Romania and Russia, but were squeezed out by Goldfaden who wielded power with the theater's Russian-Jewish audiences, financiers, and with the government. But Horowitz and Lateiner would give him his comeuppance: emigrating earlier to America, they set up shop, and held a virtual monopoly on Yiddish theater in New York City. When Goldfaden arrived in 1888, they and their actors shut him out. Both impresarios served their immigrant audiences biblical or historical operettas and tsaytbilder, depictions of topical events. Their shows were punctuated by a variety of entertainment—horseplay, slapstick, and an abundance of singing and dancing. Each man staged more than 100 plays, some original, others adaptations from German, English, and and French sources.


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“The Early American Yiddish Theater: Music, Dance, and Pageantry (1880s and 1890s).,” YIVO Online Exhibitions, accessed February 29, 2024, https://ataleoftwomuseums.yivo.org/items/show/2971.
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