his son Rubin's boy-alto voice, Sam (his father) had no
doubts at all. It had all the ingredients--a plummy tone,
perfectly even vibrato, steady pitch, and a columnlike
evenness throughout its range--to enable the boy to stand
apart from other child singers. Confident in young Ruby's
promise, and hopeful that his voice might ripen into a
cantor's, Sam was determined to place his son's vocal
development in competent hands.
at the ripe old age of six,' Richard Tucker would later
recall, 'when my father first took me by the ear to Cantor
Weisser.' Samuel Weisser, born Joshua Samuel Pilderwasser of
Bessarabian lineage, was cantor of the Tifereth Israel
synagogue on Allen Street on the Lower East Side. 'Just like
the biblical story of Jacob serving seven years,' Tucker was
fond of saying, 'I sang as a boy alto in his choir for seven
years...' He (Cantor Weisser) was demanding and selective,
especially where young voices were concerned...The few
genuinely promising voices--of which young Ruby Tucker's was
one--he placed in the Tifereth Israel choir, where he could
refine their technique and monitor their development.
Under Samuel Weisser's tutelage, Ruby developed slowly
but steadily. He spent nearly four years in the choir before
he was given his first solo to sing at Tifereth Israel.
Though there is no eyewitness account of this event, his
delivery was probably marked by the same characteristics
that his boyhood acquaintances remembered: he sang easily,
he did not stray from pitch, and, most of all, he seemed
completely free of his nervousness that sometimes marred
other boys' solos. As his development continued, Weisser
often took him along to weddings and other services, where
he had Ruby chant the responses to the cantor's prayers..."