Isaac Nathan

Mar 24, 2017

Isaac Nathan was an English Jew, born in Canterbury, in 1790, and he originally trained to be a cantor. Early on though, he switched paths and became, among other things, a voice teacher and composer. In London he wrote the music for several successful musical comedies, but his greatest success came as the composer of a collection of songs called “Hebrew Melodies.” 


Nathan’s music was largely based on old Jewish songs and synagogue tunes, but the poems for the songs were provided by none other than Lord Byron. The Hebrew Melodies were first published in 1815 and they sold thousands of copies, but Nathan later ran into financial troubles and moved to Australia. He became an important figure in the musical history of Australia, but on January 15, in 1864, Isaac Nathan also became the first person in Australia ever to be run over and killed by a horse-drawn tram.  

This has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.