Joseph Rumshinsky’s “The Broken Violin”: Call For Help

Dario Salvi
Operetta Research Center
21 October, 2017

In 1916 two of the leading exponents of the Yiddish Theater of New York got together to work on one of the major milestones in Yiddish Opera, The Broken Violin (Tos Tsubrochene Fidele): they were Joseph Rumshinsky and Boris Thomashefsky. Rumshinsky experimented for the first first time in Yiddish theatre with a full orchestration, which required a minimum of 24 players – it was custom at the time to use a much smaller ensemble for productions. This first work with full orchestra earned him the funny nickname of “The Crazy Wagner” at the time. Thomashefsky was in charge of the production and of the text of the Opera.

Piano score cover "The Broken Violin," by Joseph Rumshinsky and Boris Thomashefsky.

New piano score cover “The Broken Violin,” by Joseph Rumshinsky and Boris Thomashefsky.

Daniel Pantanto, form the Concert Operetta Theater in Philadelphia (USA) and myself have worked very hard in the past year in trying to restore the original music back to its former glory. And I am proud to say we succeeded. The music is now complete in its original for and a score and parts are ready for the production – the orchestration includes Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horns, Trombone, Tuba, Percussion, Harp and Strings.

We manage to recreate the libretto with all the lyrics for the songs (this was a massive task) and the plot of the opera has also been recreated.

Concert announcement for "The Broken Violin," by Joseph Rumshinsky and Boris Thomashefsky.

Concert announcement for “The Broken Violin,” by Joseph Rumshinsky and Boris Thomashefsky.

What we are still missing is a copy of the script, which would allow us to represent the opera in its full glory. The acted parts, which could not have been very big since the music is already 4 Acts long, are included in the script.

When we first started on the project we thought the script was available at the Library of Congress, but sadly what was there had only the first page of the Broken Violin with the text for another play inside.

We are therefore asking for help from the worldwide operetta community to help us locate the original script my Thomasfeshky.

If you have any information, please write to

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