The father of Misha Alexandrovich loved music and encouraged all his children to sing. But Misha’s special talents were so impressive that his father felt it necessary to send him to the Riga Conservatory where, at the age of seven, he began to study theory, piano and repertoire. He toured Europe for the next three years as a “wonderkind.” When his lyrical tenor quality began to develop he sought the coaching of Reya Ratner, a graduate of the famed St. Petersburg Conservatory.
In 1930 he met Moishe Koussevitzky who was cantor of the Tlomacki Synagogue of Warsaw. The great cantor encouraged Misha to continue his cantorial studies and the two Cantors subsequently thrilled audiences when they appeared together. Four years later, at the age of 20 Misha officiated as cantor of the Central Synagogue in Manchester, England. In the years that followed, he travelled to Rome to work with noted opera singer Benjamino Gigli, toured the continent, and accepted the post of cantor in Kovno, Lithuania where he also appeared with the Lithuanian Opera Company.
After Latvia, along with the other Baltic states became part of Russia in 1940. Alexandrovich became a Soviet. And when the USSR entered WWII he served by entertaining the troops of the Red Army.
After his first Moscow concert in 1943, he became highly decorated, and nationally known. Yet, he was forced to suppress his Jewish and cantorial repertoire after 1946 , and was not allowed to travel freely outside the country. He applied for an exit visa to Israel in 1970, but as one of the most well-known of the refuseniks, he was repeatedly turned down. It was only in October 1971, with the intervention of Israeli Prime Minister, Golda Meir, and the United Nations Secretary-General, U Thant, that he was finally allowed to emigrate to Israel. He served as chief cantor of the Great Synagogue of Ramat-Gan after his arrival.
In December 1972 he participated in “The Night of Stars”, along with Jan Peerce and Theodore Bikel, at NYC’s Madison Square Garden. In the years from 1972 to 1997 he toured throughout North America, Australia, South America and Europe.
After the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Alexandrovich emigrated to America, where he officiated as a cantor and gave concerts highlighting his wide-ranging repertoire.
He later retired to Munich, Germany and continued to give concerts and record until shortly before his death. After the collapse of Soviet Communism, Alexandrovich returned to the former Soviet Union and gave forty sold out concerts.
In May 1995 Alexandrovich was interviewed on Yiddish Voice, a Yiddish language radio show serving Boston's Yiddish speaking community. It was rebroadcast on July 31, 2002.
Music of Misha Alexandrovich courtesy of Raya Alexandrovich.