NEW YORK (Jun. 16)
Funeral services were held here today for Shalom Secunda, who achieved world fame both for his liturgical music and for two popular songs, as well as for his work as a conductor, producer and music critic. He died Thursday at the age of 79. He attracted fame as a child cantor at the age of eight. From early childhood he conducted orchestras in vaudeville, grand opera and concert music throughout the United States.
The two unexpectedly popular songs which became part of American popular folklore music were, “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen,” composed in 1932, and “Donna Donna.” His Jewish liturgical catalogue includes nearly 100 prayers, hymns and psalms. He was music critic for the Jewish Dally Forward and lectured and wrote widely on Jewish music; the advancement of which was a lifelong passion.
Born in Alexandria, Russia in 1894, he was brought to this country when he was eight with a reputation then as a vocal prodigy and a cantor. In 1964, he composed an oratorio, “If Not Higher,” and another, “Yizkor,” in memory of the Holocaust victims after a tour of Eastern Europe in 1966. President of the Society of Jewish Composers since 1932, he was a fellow of the International Institute of Arts and Letters and recipient of many awards for his many roles in music.