Charles Lowy was born in Bratislava (Pressburg) in 1911, the second of eight children. His father came from Hungary, his mother’s family from Nijmegen in Holland. He studied in the yeshivot (religious seminaries) of Galanta and Tselem, finishing up at the renowned Chatam Sofer Yeshiva in Pressburg.
After attending evening classes in business and working as correspondent and assistant bookkeeper for the Sphinx Metal Factory, Lowy went to Munich in 1937 to take up an appointment as cantor of the Linat Hatsedek Reichenbach Synagogue. While in Munich, he also studied music and voice production at the Trapp Conservatory.
Escaping from Munich after Kristallnacht, Lowy went to Hungary and eventually became chief cantor in Szolnok, 100 kilometres from the capital. He also served for a short period as cantor of Budapest’s Rombach Synagogue, and as assistant chief cantor at the magnificent Dohány Street Synagogue.
The years 1942-45 were taken up with long and hazardous periods of forced labour for the Germany army. It was during this time that Lowy’s wife, Kati, and newborn son were deported and killed at Auschwitz. He was liberated by the Red Army in 1945.
In 1947 Lowy was appointed cantor of the Queen’s Park Synagogue in Glasgow, Scotland, and left continental Europe with his second wife, Magda, turning his back for good on the scene of his and the Jewish people’s greatest tribulation.
After 11 years in Glasgow, he left Scotland and served for 28 years as cantor of the Hampstead Synagogue in London’s Dennington Park Road.
He retired in 1987, and passed away on 31 July 1998.