by Rolf Hofmann (HarburgProject@aol.com), based on own research
Dennenlohe is practically unknown to most people even in Germany. This tiny village in Bavaria, some miles east of Dinkelsbuehl, is famous for its beautiful castle, created around 1730/50 by the italian architect Leopoldo Retti, who afterwards designed the New Castle in Stuttgart. Less known is the fact that in these days a small jewish community existed at Dennenlohe. Most of them were dedicated to playing music, and so the jewish musicians of Dennenlohe became well known even in far away places, because they played well, and they were cheaper than their christian competitors, who eyed them with suspicion.
Some descendants of these jewish musicians became quite famous, like Abraham Weiler. His father Emanuel Weiler was born in Dennenlohe and became Cantor of the jewish community in Fischach (Bavaria), where in 1852 his son Abraham was born. In 1870 the jewish community of Noerdlingen was founded, and Abraham Weiler became their first cantor and religious teacher, in which position he stayed until he died in 1908. He was well respected, not only as a cantor but also as a perfect sharp shooter, and so for some time he had also served as a master of the local rifle organisation. His grave monument at the jewish cemetery in Noerdlingen shows a broken lyra, thus reminding of his ancestors tradition as musicians.
Another even more famous descendant of the jewish musicians of Dennenlohe was Samuel Naumburg. His father Baruch Elkan Naumburg was an oboe player and his uncle Simson Wolf Naumburg was the cantor of the jewish community at Hainsfarth in Bavaria. Samuel Naumburg was born at Dennenlohe in 1817 and received his musical education in Munich. In 1845 he was appointed first chazzan (cantor) at the Synagogue Notre-Dame-de-Nazareth in Paris. He was sponsored by the composer Jacques Fromental Halevy to carry out plans for a thorough reform of liturgic music. So Samuel Naumburg became an important composer of synagogue melodies and thus still today is compared with the famous composers Solomon Sulzer and Louis Lewandowsky. He was also a close friend of the composer Giacomo Meyerbeer, who was born in Berlin and also lived in Paris. When Samuel Naumburg died in 1880 he was interred at Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris. Today nobody cares for his grave. It still exists, but nobody really knows where it actually is. But his compositions are still part of the synagogue services and thus remind of him.
Two of Samuel Naumburg's cousins were prominent in the USA. Louis Naumburg served as a cantor in Philadelphia and later as a religious teacher in Pittsburg. Elkan Naumburg became a banker and philantropist in New York, where he donated the well known band shell at Central Park.
* * *