When the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music was founded in 1948, students were left to their own devices in the search for music. There was a pressing need to create collections of Jewish music to serve as the repertoire for the school’s curriculum.
In the 1950-1 school year, Theodore Katchko, son of the well-known Cantor Adolph Katchko, joined the student body. As a result the school gained possession of some of Katchko’s repertoire. Two students, William Sharlin and Wolf Hecker, edited the manuscripts and prepared them for publication. The resulting work became one of the core elements of the school’s curriculum when it was published in 1951-2. Cantor Sharlin recalled that they also began notating some of the compositions of cantorial faculty. The overall goal was to create a “Minhag America,’ a standard body of synagogue music, which would suit American congregations that was also authentically Jewish and of a high musical level.
This was the genesis of the Sacred Music Press. It began a series called “Out-of-Print Classics” in 1953 with the publication of Abraham Baer’s Ba’al T’fillah. Since that time, the Sacred Music Press has continued to add works by faculty members and by important synagogue composers of the past. It still serves as the most important source of liturgical music for the students of the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music as well as for Jewish music professionals throughout the world.
In the early 1970s, the very first Sacred Music Press Bookstore was opened. Today, it serves as one of the most important sources for liturgical music for the students of the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music as well as for Jewish music professionals throughout the world.
For further information, please contact Cantor Richard Cohn, Director of the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, at 212-824-2225.