Samuel E. Goldfarb papers, 1912-1981

Overview of the Collection

Goldfarb, Samuel E. (Samuel Eliezer), 1891-1978
Samuel E. Goldfarb papers
1912-1981 (inclusive)
3.76 cubic feet (9 boxes, 2 sound cassettes, 10 phonodiscs)
Collection Number
Papers and oral history of a composer and music director of Temple de Hirsch, Seattle, Washington
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 2065431929
Fax: 2065431931
Access Restrictions

The papers are open to all users.

Additional Reference Guides

The photographs that form part of this collection are described and indexed in A Guide to the Washington State Jewish Archives Photographs Collection, available in the Special Collections division of the University of Washington Libraries.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was partially provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Samuel E. Goldfarb was often called "the father of Jewish music in America." He was born in 1891 on the Lower East Side of New York City to a musical family. He sang as a choirboy in the synagogues and learned to read music from his older brother, Israel. Samuel Goldfarb studied music at Columbia University while he supported himself by playing piano in a nickelodeon and for a Yiddish vaudeville theater. After attending Columbia, Goldfarb did some composing, arranging, accompanying, and choir conducting. He spent a year in Reno, Nevada, from 1923 to 1924, where he played theater piano and organ and also played for parties and dances. While in Reno, he was appointed acting cantor at Temple Emanu-El, where he organized a choir. Goldfarb returned to New York in 1925 and decided to devote himself to Jewish music. He was appointed head of the music department of the Bureau of Jewish Education.

Goldfarb was a prolific composer of songs and other music. Together with his brother, Rabbi Israel Goldfarb, he composed hundreds of songs which are sung in Jewish schools. In 1925 the two brothers compiled the first American collection of Jewish songs, The Jewish Songster. This collection, in two volumes, was used in schools throughout the country and included some of Goldfarb's songs. The brothers also compiled Friday Evening Melodies. Among Samuel Goldfarb's compositions are biblical operettas, the best known being "The Jews in Egypt" (1926), Bible songs, festival songs, and choral music. His most famous song is "The Dreidel," which is sung during Chanukah by children throughout the world.

In 1930 Samuel Goldfarb visited Seattle to attend a wedding and accepted the post of music director of Temple de Hirsch. Goldfarb built an impressive music program at Temple de Hirsch. Over the years he established three children's choirs and trained generations of children in music. In addition to the children's choirs, he directed the adult choirs, the graduate school glee club, the Sisterhood Chorus, the Professional High Holy Days Choir, and the Temple Quartet. Goldfarb also served as organist and conducted from the organ. Besides directing his choirs, he coached singers and taught Hebrew School classes. At times more than 1,200 adults and children were under his tutelage.

Outside of the temple, "Mr. G," as he was affectionately known, directed the Halevy Singers and the Sephardic Men's Choir. He also arranged music for Susan and Maurice Friedman's "Cavalcade of Jewish Music" and coached Maurice Friedman.

While at Temple de Hirsch, Goldfarb continued to compose and arrange music for use by his choirs. He also composed some secular music, such as "I See an America," a musical setting of a speech by Adlai Stevenson. This widely hailed work was performed in a choral arrangement by the Seattle Chorale in 1965.

At his 25th anniversary celebration at Temple de Hirsch in 1956, Goldfarb and his wife were presented with a trip to Europe and Israel. The Goldfarbs returned from Europe aboard the Andrea Doria and were rescued at sea after their ship collided with a Swedish vessel. In 1968 Goldfarb retired as music director at Temple de Hirsch. He died in Seattle in 1978.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The papers document the life and work of Samuel E. Goldfarb. Accession No. 2784-001 contains an oral history interview from 1978 in which Goldfarb discusses his life and work, and also a small collection of letters, clippings, and ephemera. Accession No. 2784-003 is comprised largely of Goldfarb's compositions of sacred and secular vocal and instrumental music, and of songbooks composed or compiled by Goldfarb. This grouping of material also includes biographical information, correspondence, sound recordings, and other materials.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

The creator's literary rights have been transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Preferred Citation

Samuel E. Goldfarb Papers. Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries, Seattle, Washington.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


The collection is comprised of two accessions:

  • Accession No. 2784-001, Samuel E. Goldfarb papers, 1923-1978
  • Accession No. 2784-003, Samuel E. Goldfarb papers, 1912-1981

Acquisition Information

The bulk of the collection was a gift of Samuel Goldfarb's son, Michael Goldfarb, and Michael's brothers, January 16, 1984.

Processing Note

A small number of papers that were donated by Samuel Goldfarb in 1978 have been consolidated with Accession 2784-003. These consist of several letters, issues of the Temple Tidings newsletter, and newspaper clippings. A Workman's Circle membership certificate, Accession 2784-002, donated in 1982, is also included in Accession 2784-003.

The photographs included in Goldfarb's papers were relocated to the Washington State Jewish Archives Photograph Collection, PH Coll 650, in the Special Collections division, University of Washington Libraries, in May 1985 and April 1986.

Sheet music and 5 audio discs were transferred to the University of Washington Music Library on May 16, 1984. Nine songbooks and hymnals were transferred to the Music Library on March 29, 1985.

Separated Materials

Duplicate books, records, and music, as well as materials outside the collecting scope of the University of Washington Libraries were donated to Temple De Hirsch Sinai, Seattle.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


Accession No. 2784-001: Samuel E.Goldfarb papers, 1923-1978Return to Top

.04 cubic feet (2 sound cassettes)

Scope and Content: This group of material includes an oral history interview recorded on two audiocassettes, along with a transcript of the interview, letters, clippings, and ephemera, 1923-1978. The interview was conducted by Joseph Cohen and Meta Buttnick Kaplan on February 1, 1978.

Samuel Goldfarb describes his childhood in the Lower East Side of New York City. His family's lifestyle was strictly traditional. Goldfarb knew George Gershwin and Irving Berlin in Tin Pan Alley, where he played to demonstrate songs. Goldfarb also played for the Yiddish theater. He had a Jewish education and graduated from Columbia University. In 1930 he and his wife came to Seattle from Los Angeles to attend a wedding. In Seattle, Dr. Samuel Koch, rabbi of Temple de Hirsch, asked Goldfarb to serve as the temple's musical director. Goldfarb remained in the position until he retired in 1968.

Restrictions on Access: Open to all users.

Digital Content/Other Formats: Listen to the audio recording and view the transcript of this interview on the Libraries Digital Collections site.

Accession No. 2784-003: Samuel E. Goldfarb papers, 1912-1981Return to Top

3.72 cubic feet (9 boxes) plus 10 phonodiscs
Arrangement: These papers have been arranged into five series:
  • Biographical information
  • Correspondence
  • Music
  • Other papers
  • Subject series

Scope and Content: The bulk of these papers consists of music composed or arranged by Samuel Goldfarb and includes vocal music for religious holidays, secular vocal music, dramatic vocal works, and sacred and secular instrumental music. The music series also includes songbooks composed or arranged by Samuel Goldfarb, both individually and with his brother, Israel Goldfarb. The sound recordings feature music sung by the children's choir at Temple de Hirsch and music written or played by Goldfarb. Also included are speeches, writings, clippings, biographical information, correspondence, dramatic works, and ephemera.

Restrictions on Access: Open to all users.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder Accession
1/1 2784-003
Biographical information
Incoming letters
Box/Folder Accession
1/2 2784-003
1/3 2784-003
Goldfarb, Israel
1/4 2784-003
1923-1974, undated
Box/Folder Accession
1/5 2784-003
Outgoing letters
1942-1972, undated
1/6 2784-003
General correspondence regarding Samuel Goldfarb
Vocal music
Sacred vocal music
Box/Folder Accession
1/7-8 2784-003
1936-1974, undated
1/9-10 2784-003
High Holy Days
1932-1970, undated
1/11 2784-003
1927-1964, undated
1/12 2784-003
1927-1968, undated
1/13 2784-003
1954-1967, undated
1/14 2784-003
1919-1964, undated
1/15 2784-003
1964, undated
2/1-2/2 2784-003
Holidays (general)
1934-1971, undated
2/3 2784-003
Bar mitzvah
2/4-6 2784-003
Various occasions
1925-1972, undated
2/7 2784-003
"The Jewish Calendar in Song"
1935, 1967
9/1 2784-003
Bible songs
1925-1926, undated
9/2 2784-003
Sunday school songs
2/8-3/1 2784-003
Partbooks - New York
1912-1930, undated
3/2-3 2784-003
Partbooks - Seattle
1931-1960, undated
Box/Folder Accession
3/4 2784-003
Secular vocal music
1927-1967, undated
3/5 2784-003
Yiddish vocal music
1925-1966, undated
Vocal music-dramatic works
Box/Folder Accession
4/1 2784-003
"The Crumb Conspiracy"
4/2 2784-003
4/3 2784-003
"The Golden Staff"
4/3 2784-003
"I See an America"
General Notes: See also: Subject series
9/3 2784-003
"Israel Thru the Ages"
4/4 2784-003
"The Jews in Egypt"
4/5 2784-003
"The Living Hagaddah"
4/6 2784-003
"The Maccabees"
4/7 2784-003
"Man's Search for Freedom"
Box/Folder Accession
4/8 2784-003
Pedagogical material on vocal technique
Vocal and instrumental music
Box/Folder Accession
4/9 2784-003
"Hark, My Beloved"
Instrumental music
Sacred instrumental music
Box/Folder Accession
4/10 2784-003
Tisha B'Av
1928, undated
4/11 2784-003
1951-1965, undated
Secular instrumental music
Box/Folder Accession
4/12 2784-003
"Ballet Valse" Opus 1
4/13 2784-003
1916-1934, undated
Box/Folder Accession
4/14 2784-003
Student compositions
4/15 2784-003
1970-1974, undated
Published music
Scope and Content: Songbooks composed or compiled by Samuel and Israel Goldfarb.
Samuel Goldfarb
Box/Folder Accession
4/16 2784-003
Avodat Israel Sabbath Eve Service
4/16 2784-003
Beloved Jewish Songs
4/16 2784-003
The Bible Story in Song
4/16 2784-003
Jewish Songs, Part 1
4/16 2784-003
Popular Jewish Melodies, Part 1
4/16 2784-003
Popular Jewish Melodies, Part 2
4/16 2784-003
Songs...for the Temple and Religion School
Samuel and Israel Goldfarb
Box/Folder Accession
4/17 2784-003
Friday Evening Melodies
4/17 2784-003
Jewish Community Songster
4/17 2784-003
The Pocket Songster
4/17 2784-003
Selected Jewish Songs for Members of the Armed Forces
4/17 2784-003
Synagogue Melodies for the High Holy Days
The Jewish Songster
Box/Folder Accession
5/1 2784-003
1st edition, song texts only
5/1 2784-003
4th revised edition, part I
5/1 2784-003
7th revised edition, part I, song texts only
5/2 2784-003
7th revised edition, part II
Box/Folder Accession
5/3 2784-003
The New Jewish Song Book
Israel Goldfarb
Box/Folder Accession
5/4 2784-003
Sabbath in the Home
5/4 2784-003
Song and Praise for Sabbath Eve
Scope and Content: 3rd and 9th editions and supplement to the 3rd edition.
1925, 1943
5/5 2784-003
Avodath Yisro-el
5/5 2784-003
Kabbalat Shabbat
Sound recordings
Digital Content/Other Formats: CD-ROM copies are available for listening.
Box Accession
Disc Recordings Box 3 2784-003
Temple de Hirsch Children's Choir - "En Kelohai-Nu" and "An Only Kid"
Disc Recordings Box 3 2784-003
Temple de Hirsch Children's Choir - "Hodu Ladanoi," "Chad Gadyo," and "Da-Yai-Nu"
Disc Recordings Box 3 2784-003
Temple de Hirsch Children's Choir - "The Spring Tide of the Year," "God of Might," and "Kiddush"
Disc Recordings Box 3 2784-003
"Mood Moderne," composed and played by Goldfarb
Disc Recordings Box 3 2784-003
Piano solo played by Goldfarb
Disc Recordings Box 3 2784-003
"I See an America," music by Goldfarb
Disc Recordings Box 3 2784-003
Children's Choir - Sabbath songs and "Kedusha"
Disc Recordings Box 3 2784-003
"Kol Nidrei" sung by Yossele (Joseph) Rosenblatt
Disc Recordings Box 3 2784-003
Shofar service by Goldfarb
Disc Recordings Box 3 2784-003
Evening service
Other papers
Box/Folder Accession
6/1 2784-003
Libretto: "Joseph the Dreamer"
Speeches and writings of Goldfarb
Box/Folder Accession
6/2-8 2784-003
1916-1970, undated
7/1 2784-003
Instruction curricula for Hebrew schools
1966, undated
Speeches and writings of others
Box/Folder Accession
7/2 2784-003
Bar Mitzvah speeches (Goldfarb, instructor)
1935-1970, undated
7/3 2784-003
1927-1969, undated
Box/Folder Accession
7/4 2784-003
Notes - program plans
1964-1973, undated
7/5 2784-003
1955-1962, undated
Membership lists
Box/Folder Accession
7/6 2784-003
Junior Choir
7/7 2784-003
Sisterhood Choral Group
Box/Folder Accession
7/8 2784-003
1956-1956, undated
7/9 2784-003
Legal document
7/10 2784-003
7/11 2784-003
Prayerbook- Prayers for the New Year
7/12 2784-003
The Torch yearbook, Temple de Hirsch Religion School
7/13 2784-003
Temple Tidings newsletters
7/14-7/15 2784-003
1923-1978, undated
8/1 2784-003
1927-1979, undated
Subject series
Box/Folder Accession
8/2 2784-003
"Come Let Us Sing" (L'Chu N'Rah N'Nah) - proposed book
8/3 2784-003
Halevy Singers
1931-1936, undated
8/4-8/5 2784-003
"I See an America"
1963-1971, undated
8/6 2784-003
20th anniversary with Temple de Hirsch
8/7-8 2784-003
25th anniversary with Temple de Hirsch
8/9 2784-003
35th anniversary with Temple de Hirsch
8/10 2784-003
8/11 2784-003
80th birthday
8/12 2784-003
Golden wedding anniversary of Earl H. and Billie Spero

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Children's songs
  • Choral conductors--Washington (State)--Seattle--Archives
  • Choral conductors--Washington (State)--Seattle--Interviews
  • Dramatic music
  • Instrumental music
  • Jewish American composers--Washington (State)--Seattle--Archives
  • Jewish American composers--Washington (State)--Seattle--Interviews
  • Jews--United States--Music
  • Jews--Washington (State)--Seattle--Archives
  • Jews--Washington (State)--Seattle--Interviews
  • Music teachers--Washington (State)--Seattle--Archives
  • Music teachers--Washington (State)--Seattle--Interviews
  • Music--Instruction and study--Juvenile
  • Music--Instruction and study--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Sacred vocal music
  • Songs
  • Synagogue music
  • Vocal music

Personal Names

  • Goldfarb, Israel, 1879-1967
  • Goldfarb, Samuel E. (Samuel Eliezer), 1891-1978--Archives
  • Goldfarb, Samuel E. (Samuel Eliezer), 1891-1978--Interviews

Corporate Names

  • Temple de Hirsch (Seattle, Wash.)

Form or Genre Terms

  • Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.)
  • Sheet music
  • Songbooks
  • Sound recordings
  • Speeches, addresses, etc
  • correspondence
  • ephemera
  • oral histories
  • transcripts
  • writings

Other Creators

  • Corporate Names
    • Washington State Jewish Archives (University of Washington)

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Personal Papers/Corporate Records (University of Washington)

Other Creators

  • Corporate Names
    • Washington State Jewish Archives (University of Washington)