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To your question, I read an enlightening article about chazzonus a few weeks ago in – I believe – a Hamodia magazine.
I think it was Bentzion Miller (I’m not 100% certain) who said that the decline and fall of
adherence to nusach, appreciation of chazzonus, etc. *began* back in the 20s and 30s when
the Young Israel organization was appealing to young Jews who would have otherwise been lost to Judaism
and – with the best and noblest of intentions – made the
tefillo more … I’ll say “accessible” or “hands-on” by organizing smaller minyonim without the
pomp and formality of choirs and – yes – chazzonim. I am not making any judgments about this – just stating what I came across.
I find this quite convincing, but I was not around then.
(Notice I emphasize “began”. Where we are today vis-a-vis nusach ignorance has other causes, I’m sure.
One being the churban Europa hanora and the ensuing breakage of the mesorah.)
BTW – I also bemoan the state of nusach-adherence these days. I am musically ignorant,
but I grew up hearing European chazzonim and knowledgeable baalei tefillo. There was chein and taam.
However, I do admit that I am not a big fan of prolonged virtuosic demonstrations.
Just “dovor be-ito mah tov.”
Jews – rabbis included – used to wear colorful garb.
Anti-Jewish decrees in Middle Ages forced Jews to adopt drab colors (gray, black). Ever since then, Jews have – as they often have done – taken what was meant to be derogatory and turned it into a badge of pride.
I heard this on a history tape from Rabbi Wein.
And hence the black suits.