Jewish Studies Jews and Music
by
Judah Cohen
  • LAST REVIEWED: 30 June 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 February 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199840731-0063

Introduction

The term “Jewish music” encompasses a complicated and multifaceted relationship between Judaism and sound from ancient times to the present day. People have used music to accompany liturgical and biblical texts, to define spaces and leisure activities, to characterize adherence to Jewish law and/or heritage, to denote Jews and Judaism in contrast to other cultural groups, to define one group of Jews against another, to reinforce specific ideas of Jewish communal history and identity, and to characterize local Jewish experiences. Music, in turn, has been used to define both sacred time and leisure time in Judaism, and has played a key role in ideological debates about tradition and innovation. One central reason for this wide application is music’s fundamentally variable nature: as organized collections of sounds that both accept and resist fixed notated forms, music easily acquires, communicates, and negotiates meaning long after the sounds themselves have faded. In Jewish life, these unique qualities have led to lines of specialists—such as the hazzan or cantor in liturgical music, or the klezmer in music of dance and celebration—while at the same time giving music a marginal role in logocentric disciplines such as philosophy and history. Research on this topic has covered a broad range of practices, including chant and ritual fulfillment, the works of Jewish-affiliated composers, communal performance within Jewish communities, and participation in popular musical, stage, and concert forms. Such breadth emphasizes the difficulty in defining the field, particularly when attempting to apply an appropriate overarching term. Musicologist Curt Sachs’ reported 1950s definition of “Jewish music” as “music by Jews, for Jews, as Jews,” has been celebrated for its brevity and criticized for its inaccuracy. Jewish seminaries, meanwhile, have sought to institutionalize the concept by investing it with a broad sense of durable tradition, as exemplified by their musical training programs. The term has also carried expectations of authenticity, sometimes leading to heated debates in the evaluation of musical artists, works, and scholars. Nonetheless, “Jewish music” remains the term of record in scholarship, the synagogue, and the communal world, best viewed as shorthand for an expansive and disparate series of conversations.

General Overviews

Scholarship on Jewish music began in the mid-late 19th century, roughly concurrent with the development of Wissenschaft movements in both music and Judaism. Jewish liturgical music practitioners, seeking to improve their scientific legitimacy, authored most of these early studies using synagogue music to represent Jewish tradition. Ackermann 1894 presents the emergence of this discussion into broader academic conversation, linking synagogue music to the ancient, medieval, and modern eras established by the Wissenschaft model. Starting around the turn of the 20th century, music became a part of scholarly efforts to promote a distinctive Jewish ethnic culture that could stand on its own alongside other cultures. Idelsohn 1929, authored by a key figure in this transition, retains the primacy of religious music, but places the story within a broader cultural milieu, thereby setting the agenda for the field. Broad overviews of the subject have appeared regularly since then: Gradenwitz 1949 represents a view of the field from the new state of Israel, with the narrative adjusted accordingly. The work of Peter Gradenwitz, as well as Eric Werner’s entry on Jewish music in the 1954 edition of Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (New York: St. Martin’s, 1954), continued to view the field through a moral lens that evaluated music based on its adherence to each author’s definition of Jewish musical tradition. Overviews since then have sought increasingly scholarly paradigms. Shiloah 1992, following Israeli social science trends, emphasizes the musical traditions of ethnic communities in Israel. Avenary, et al. 2007; Seroussi, et al. 2001; and Seroussi 2009 show successive attempts to interrogate the concept of Jewish music itself, distancing the narrative from religious or communal ideology in an effort to connect more effectively with the standards of the larger fields to which they contributed. And Shelemay 1995, while not a comprehensive overview, provides a central idea in parsing the complicated relationship between scholarship and Jewish identity in music.

  • Ackermann, Aron. ‪Der synagogale Gesang in seiner historischen Entwicklung. Berlin: M. Poppelauer, 1894.

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    Written by a rabbi rather than a synagogue musician, and therefore in a relatively classic Wissenschaft style, this study uses a paradigm of melodic retention and Judaism’s conservative nature to trace synagogue music a succession of biblical, rabbinic, and modern sources.

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  • Avenary, Hanoch, Bathja Bayer, Amnon Shiloah, Jehoash Hirshberg, Dushan Mihalek, and Gila Flam. “Music.” In Encyclopedia Judaica. Edited by Fred Skolnik. Detroit: Macmillan, 2007.

    DOI: 10.1002/9783527600441.oe003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An effective and serviceable entry on Jewish music that reflects the state of the field as of the Encyclopedia Judaica’s first edition in 1971; although the 2007 edition includes several new short sections on art music, the Holocaust, and folk music, the core narrative has changed little. Retains an emphasis on religious music while largely avoiding the myth of Jewish melodic conservation.

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  • Gradenwitz, Peter. The Music of Israel: Its Rise and Growth Through 5000 Years. New York: W. W. Norton, 1949.

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    A romanticized and widely available treatment of music in Jewish history. Gradenwitz orients his story toward Zionist redemption in the State of Israel. Issued in a German edition in 1961. A second edition in 1996, with the new subtitle From the Biblical Era Through Modern Times, had a much smaller impact.

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  • Idelsohn, Abraham Z. Jewish Music in its Historical Development. New York: Henry Holt, 1929.

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    Widely credited with creating the field of Jewish music research. A semi-adaptation of Idelsohn’s Hebrew-language study Toldot HaNeginah HaIvrit (Berlin: Dvir, 1924; see Ethnic Communities) this work shifts emphasis from defining a Hebrew paradigm in Palestine to creating a paradigm centered on Reform Judaism for a general American audience.

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  • Seroussi, Edwin. “Music: The ‘Jew’ of Jewish Studies.” Jewish Studies: Journal of the World Congress of Jewish Studies 46 (2009): 3–84.

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    A majestic critical overview of the field from the 19th century through the start of the 21st. Seroussi’s work argues for a reconsideration of the field as a “musicology of the Jewish” and seeks a new integrative paradigm for future research.

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  • Seroussi, Edwin, Philip V. Bohlman, Uri Sharvit, et al. “Jewish Music.” In The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. 2d ed. Edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

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    Presents a new paradigm for the field that marks a change in emphasis away from religious and/or nation-based self-interest to an avowedly non-sectarian approach.

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  • Shelemay, Kay K. “Mythologies and Realities in the Study of Jewish Music.” The World of Music 37.1 (1995): 24–38.

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    A concise, foundational article that addresses the tension between music’s role as a vessel of communal Jewish identity (mythology) and its resistance to a simple communal definition (reality).

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  • Shiloah, Amnon. Jewish Musical Traditions. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1992.

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    A difficult read, but nonetheless important as the topic- and ethnicity-based approach of this work to Jewish music differs significantly from the time-based paradigm used everywhere else.

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Reference Works/Indices

The interdisciplinary and often decentralized nature of research and methods involved in the study of Jews and music has spawned several efforts to consolidate literature in the field on both small and large scales. The introduction to Sendrey 1951 provides a good background on Jewish music bibliography. Sendrey 1951 itself, moreover, remains the predigital nonpareil in the field. Other useful indices focus on the work of important musical figures—Schleifer 1986 provides an exemplar—and specific genres, as with Heskes 1992. In addition, Jewish organizations such as the National Jewish Music Council have regularly issued index-style guides for practical use among Jewish laypeople and professionals since at least the 1960s. Starting in the 1990s, with the advent of digital cataloging, a number of initiatives have improved access to Jewish music materials, including projects to digitize books, scores, audio, video, and archival documents accelerating on the web. The most successful of these projects, have made local collections, Jewish Sound Archives and Judaica Digital Collection, available online; linked materials to larger bibliographic databases, such as Jewish Music Web Center and Music Collection and Sound Archive; and/or, like the Jewish Music Research Centre, produced their own articles and specialized indices addressing specific media- and topic-based projects. Additional, philanthropic projects such as the Jewish devotional text and melody archive, An Invitation to Piyut, sponsored by the Avi Chai Foundation, include rich stores of curated primary materials while actively pursuing other survivalist social agendas.

Periodicals

The wide variety of formats in which scholarship on music and Judaism appears speaks to the complexity of the field. For university-based researchers, the greatest prestige comes through peer-reviewed journals. To this end, scholars have frequently resorted either to standard article submission to a music or Jewish studies journal, or to combining their work in guest edited issues of peer-reviewed journals (see, for example, Asian Music 37.1 [1995] or Judaism 47.1 [1998]). With the exception of Yuval, which publishes only Jewish music studies, general peer-reviewed Israeli musicology journals such as Orbis Musicae and Min-Ad have included articles about music and Judaism as part of a broader agenda to serve the field’s unique needs there. American Jewish music journals such as Musica Judaica, Journal of Synagogue Music, and Journal of Jewish Music and Liturgy, meanwhile, hold dual identities as vessels of scholarship and sites of dialogue with Jewish music practitioners and communally affiliated scholars (many of whom themselves hold advanced degrees). While not (yet) peer reviewed, these American journals are often edited vigorously in-house by long-term editors, and mediate in important ways between Jewish music’s religious, cultural, scholarly, and institutional identities. During their runs they have included cantorial editorials and theses, sheet music reviews, compositions, and obituaries of important figures in the Jewish music world.

  • Journal of Jewish Music and Liturgy. 1976–2009.

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    Edited by Macy Nulman through the duration of its run, and co-published by the (modern orthodox) Cantorial Council of America and the Belz School of Music at Yeshiva University. Most articles surround matters of music in orthodox liturgical practice (halakhah), with occasional articles by non-orthodox scholars. The journal has published thirty volumes through 2009, many volumes are available online.

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  • Journal of Synagogue Music. 1967–.

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    Published by the Cantors Assembly, associated with the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism, this journal includes the writings of cantors and scholars from the Jewish Theological Seminary and Cantors Assembly alongside other contributed articles. After a fallow period in the 1990s, the journal was reinvigorated in 2005 with a theme-based issue format by Joseph A. Levine. The journal has published thirty eight volumes through 2013, all of which are available online.

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  • Min-Ad: Israel Studies in Musicology Online. 1999–.

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    Succeeds Israel Studies in Musicology (1978–1996; 5 vols.). A peer-reviewed online music journal published by the Israel Musicological Society. Took a while to establish itself, but now offers an impressive array of articles. The journal has published ten volumes through 2012.

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  • Musica Judaica. 1974–.

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    Published as an organ of the American Society for Jewish Music, an independent organization currently under the auspices of the American Jewish Historical Society. Israel J. Katz served as editor or co-editor for its first eighteen volumes; now co-edited by Mark Kligman. The journal has announced its conversion to peer review with Vol. 21; and back issues will be available on JSTOR as of early 2014. The journal has published twenty volumes through 2012.

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  • Orbis Musicae. 1971–2007.

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    Published through Tel Aviv University’s Department of Musicology, Orbis Musicae included a number of dedication issues (to Hanoch Avenary and Edith Gershon-Kiwi, for example) that contained a greater number of specific Jewish music articles. The journal has published fourteen volumes through 2007.

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  • Yuval: Studies of the Jewish Music Research Centre. 1968–2002.

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    A series of occasional publications published by the Magnes Press highlighting the work of Israeli music scholars. Edited by Israel Adler, Bathja Bayer, Amnon Shiloah, Eliyahu Schleifer, Edwin Seroussi, and others. The journal has published seven volumes through 2002, all seven volumes available for purchase at the Jewish Music Research Centre website.

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Primary Sources: Liturgical

The nature of Jewish music research, where scholarship and practice intersect, makes a discussion of primary sources complicated. In most cases, the sources chosen here reflect the works of composers and musicians who contributed significantly to the scholarly conversations about Jews and music as well. This relevance, however, sometimes leads to the production of substantially edited subsequent editions. Sulzer 1838/1865 provides the most elaborate example here; the first edition of Schir Zion was updated in the 1860s, and Sulzer’s son reissued another edition in 1905. In the 1950s, moreover, the 1905 edition was reissued as part of the Hebrew Union College School of Sacred Music Out of Print Classics Series, along with edited reprints of numerous other key cantorial works, including Naumbourg 1847, Weintraub 1859, and Lewandowski 1871, listed here, as well as important compendia by Abraham Baer and several others. The 1950s reprints, with their own additions and occasional introductions by Eric Werner, subsequently became the most common. Other works, including Kaiser 1897, Ephros 1929–1977, Nathanson 1955–1974, and Union of American Hebrew Congregations 2000, document new American trends in 20th century worship music—in particular, the first hymnal, curated editions of classic synagogue music, new trends in congregational melodies, and the song leading phenomenon that has come to dominate liberal Jewish worship at the end of the 20th century.

  • Ephros, Gershon, ed. The Cantorial Anthology of Traditional and Modern Synagogue Music. 6 vols. New York: Bloch, 1929–1977.

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    This substantial compilation, rarely used today, represents the work of one of the primary cantorial instructors of the mid-20th century. In some ways it chronicles the transition of the cantorial world from Eastern Europe to the United States. An index to the anthology, by Marsha Bryan Edelman, has been published as Musica Judaica 2.2 (1980), but it is not yet widely available.

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  • Kaiser, Alois, ed. Union Hymnal. Cincinnati: Central Conference of American Rabbis, 1897.

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    The first major American Jewish hymnal, a central document in understanding musical adjustments at the turn of the 20th century. Subsequent expanded editions appeared in 1914 and 1932.

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  • Lewandowski, Louis. Kol Rinnah u’T’fillah: ein- und zweistimme Gesänge für den israelitischen Gottesdienst. Berlin: Bote & Bock, 1871.

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    See also Lewandowski’s more elaborate compositions for choir and organ in Todah w’Simrah (1876–1882). While Lewandowski’s more elaborate compositions are better known today, Kol Rinnah was considered by many European cantors to be an essential handbook. Reissued with a new introduction in 1954.

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  • Nathanson, Moshe, ed. Zamru Lo: Congregational Melodies, Prayers, Zemirot, Hymns. 3 vols. New York: Cantors Assembly of America, 1955–1974.

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    A key collection of congregational melodies produced through a cantorial organization associated with the Conservative movement of American Judaism. Nathanson, the editor, was known for his congregational melody compositions. Still used internationally.

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  • Naumbourg, Samuel. Zemirot Yisrael. 2 vols. Paris: S. Naumbourg, 1847.

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    Along with work by Sulzer, Weintraub, and Lewandowski, this is a highly influential collection of music incorporating compositions by Halévy and Meyerbeer among others. Second edition published 1864, reissued by the Sacred Music Press in 1954 (currently the most common version).

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  • Sulzer, Salomon. Schir Zion: Gesänge für den israelitischen Gottesdienst. 2 vols. Vienna: J. Schlossberg, 1838/1865.

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    A highly influential, landmark publication, in German, that includes contributions by a number of composers. It has come to represent the dissemination of the “new” musical style during the mid nineteenth century. Several editions have since been published, nearly all of them with significant changes from the original. (Most common is the 1954 reissue of Joseph Sulzer’s edited 1905 version.)

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  • Union of American Hebrew Congregations. Shireinu: Our Songs. A Songbook for Camps, Conclaves, Kallot, and Retreats. New York: Transcontinental Music, 2000.

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    The most significant collection of song leading repertoire, replacing 1981’s NFTY Chordster. Available as a songbook, chordster (words and chords only), and with melody, words and chords. Most song leaders use the chordster only; its three-ring binder format accommodates regular supplements as more songs enter the repertoire.

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  • Weintraub, Hirsch. Schire Beth Adonai oder Tempelgesänge für den Gottesdienst der Israeliten. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1859.

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    Aesthetically, a well-regarded collection of harmonized synagogue compositions. Academically, a critical work for defining the “South German” cantorial style. Weintraub’s introduction, moreover, makes early mention of a Jewish “modal” system, in this case predicated on the church modes. Reissued by the Sacred Music Press in 1954.

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Ancient Period

Despite the foundational historical role the ancient world played for scholars in establishing a history of Jewish music, the comparatively scant musical source material from the period has led to a literature with significantly different characteristics from other sections. Ancient Israel necessarily received attention as a precursor to Greece, Rome, and the Christian world in the earliest scholarly histories of Western music (such as Johann Nicholas Forkel’s Allgemeine Geschichte der Musik, published in 1788). Consequently, according to Saalschütz 1829, the earliest Jewish treatments of the topic drew on textual sources and served as responses to Christian-oriented accounts. Since then, scholars have attempted to offer meaningful observations through biblical and rabbinic references, archeological evidence, and historical and contextual constructs. Most of the sources in the General Overviews section provide their own treatments. In addition, Israeli musicologists, in the 1950s and 1960s, such as Bayer 1968, produced studies of biblical instruments. Since Sendrey 1969, which summarized much of the latest findings, dedicated scholars of music and Judaism have largely abandoned the area as too speculative. Consequently, with the significant exception of Braun 2006 and Zimmermann 2000, the topic has largely shifted into the hands of archeologists and scholars, like Wright 2002, of early Jewish text Early music performers, meanwhile, have maintained great interest in this era, in part as a way to present alternatives to and comparisons with much better documented Christian music traditions. On this front, intriguing if speculative reconstruction work has been done by performer/scholars such as Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura and Joel Cohen.

  • Bayer, Bathja. “The Biblical Nebel.” Yuval 1 (1968): 89–131.

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    Bayer, who specialized in music during the ancient period, provides a systematic discussion of references to the nevel (roughly, a harp or lyre) from the biblical period to the mishnaic period—including representations on coins from the Bar Kokhba rebellion period—comprising well over a hundred references. A paradigm of this type of study, Bayer nonetheless concludes that any attempt at concrete description remains speculative.

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  • Braun, Joachim. Music in Ancient Israel/Palestine. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006.

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    Translation and revision of Die Musikkultur Altisraels/Palästinas (1999). Braun, who straddles the fields of music and archeology in Israel, is currently the most prominent scholar in this area. Though critiqued for emphasizing archeological evidence over textual sources, and often better at describing general musical activities than focusing specifically on ancient Israel, this work nonetheless provides the broadest available picture of music in the region/era.

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  • Saalschütz, Joseph Levin. Geschichte und Würdigung der Musik bei den Hebräern, im Verhältnis zur sonstigen Ausbildung diser Kunst in alter und neuer Zeit. Berlin: G. Finke, 1829.

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    Written by a significant early scholar of Jewish archeology, this pioneering treatise, in German, responds to Forkel’s history of Western music that was published in 1788. Using mainly textual sources to explore the period’s musical instruments and performance practice, Saalschütz parallels music scholarship on ancient Greece and Rome. Ends with a description of the ancient organ, presumably contributing to contemporary debates about organ usage in Jewish ritual.

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  • Sendrey, Alfred. Music in Ancient Israel. New York: Philosophical Library, 1969.

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    A methodical and painstakingly detailed account of the available knowledge on the topic. Yet the book overall presents an apologia for Jewish musical creativity; Sendrey ultimately responds to contemporary critiques that Jews lack a musical style by claiming that the intense emotionality of music among the ancient Israelites prevented them from doing so.

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  • Wright, David P. “Music and Dance in 2 Samuel 6.” Journal of Biblical Literature 121 (2002): 201–225.

    DOI: 10.2307/3268353Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Wright, a scholar of ancient Judaism, explores music using a biblical literature-based methodology: that is to say, through a close linguistic and thematic comparison with other sources from the period. Frequently overlooked by music scholars, and more of a sidelight in Wright’s written oeuvre, but nonetheless an exemplar of the work being done in this area.

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  • Zimmermann, Heidy. Tora und Shira: Untersuchungen zur Musikauffassung des rabbinischen Judentums. New York: Peter Lang, 2000.

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    A respectable effort, in German, to understand singing as a specific mode of expression in rabbinic thought and activity. Provides a comprehensive evaluation of available sources, using Exodus 15 and its commentaries as a case study.

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Middle Ages/Troubadours

The scant sources known to exist on Jews and music in the medieval period have received significant coverage. Maimonides’ few words on music have been treated as a key text in Jewish music history, as addressed by Farmer 1933. Likewise, fragments of Hebrew texts set to medieval neume notation, as described and attributed by Golb 1965, have become an icon of Jewish music history. Jewish minnesingers and troubadours have been made subjects of music albums, though only through their few attributed texts—the music as well has been interpolated from other sources. The romantic notions of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim harmony during the time of Alfonso X, “El Sabio” in Spain, became models for similar coexistence in the late 20th century. Werner 1959, meanwhile, has perhaps had the most impact of all these works because of its social message to post-World War II civilization. These kinds of works cohere into little more than dots over an unknown territory, with even the dots themselves involving some speculation. At the same time, scholarship from this era in particular seems to have filtered into the popular imagination, linking scholarly efforts with communal activity.

  • Farmer, Henry George. “Maimonides on Listening to Music.” The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland 4 (October 1933): 867–884.

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    Farmer, a major scholar on Arabic music treatises, places Maimonides’ responsa on music within the context of Arabic music theory.

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  • Golb, Norman. “The Music of Obadiah the Proselyte and His Conversion.” Journal of Jewish Studies 18 (1965): 1–18.

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    A groundbreaking article, along with a longer Hebrew article in the journal Tarbiz, introducing and identifying the author of Cairo Genizah fragments with Hebrew texts set to medieval neume (musical) notation. These fragments remain the first known Western-notated musical settings of Jewish texts. Subsequent work by Israel Adler and others continues to refine our knowledge (see part III of Antonio De Rosa and Mauro Perani, eds. Giovanni-Ovadiah da Oppido [Florence: Giuntina, 2005]), but Golb’s article offers the clearest entry point to that conversation.

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  • Werner, Eric. The Sacred Bridge: The Interdependence of Liturgy and Music in Synagogue and Church during the First Millennium. New York: Columbia University Press, 1959.

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    An extremely influential yet highly flawed work. Published at a time when Jews and Catholics sought modes of post-Holocaust reconciliation, Werner’s argument that Medieval Jews and Christians borrowed music extensively from each other received enthusiastic institutional support (and still circulates). His erudite and often esoteric presentation, however, falls apart upon greater scrutiny. A second volume (New York: KTAV, 1985) proved even more problematic.

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Late Medieval Period to 1840

Seen as a formative time covering the onset of Jewish emancipation and modernity, the period before 1840 corresponds with the late Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, and early/mid-Romantic periods of mainstream music scholarship. Yet in comparison to the broad resources available to mainstream musicology, Jewish examples, particularly before 1800, are scant and fragmentary, as described in Adler 1989. As a result, for the most part we have only tantalizing glimpses into what scholars believe to have been a rich and perhaps symbolically transitional Jewish musical life. Work such as Blasco 1998, on late medieval itinerant musicians in both Spain and Germany—under several names, such as troubadours, jongleurs, and minstrels—relies heavily on identifying certain authors as Jews in manuscript collections. Yiddish textual sources have recently received extended scrutiny as well, as seen in Matut 2011. Italian Jewry has been one focus of 17th and 18th century studies, due in large part to the existence of musical scores both in print, as in Harrán 1999, Seroussi 2002, and in manuscript, as in Adler 1986; the Western European Sephardic sphere has received attention as well for similar reasons (see Seroussi 1996, cited under Music in Central Europe, 1820–1939). Idel 1997 presents an overview of a good number of resources on music and kabbalah. The end of this period, corresponding with the appearance of a number of cantorial manuals mostly in manuscript, led also to fruitful studies such as Katz 1995.

  • Adler, Israel. “Three Musical Ceremonies for Hosana Rabbah in the Jewish Community of Casale Monferrato (1732, 1733, 1735).” Yuval 5 (1986): 51–136.

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    An intensive source study based on a music manuscript held in the Moscow National Library; includes some notes by Bathya Churgin as well as considerable musical transcriptions. Adler also published critical editions of the first 1732 and 1733 ceremonies (in 1990 and 1992) and released a good amount of the music on recordings, all through the Jewish Music Research Centre.

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  • Adler, Israel. Hebrew Notated Manuscript Sources Up to 1840: A Descriptive and Thematic Catalogue with a Checklist of Printed Sources. Répertoire Internationale de Sources Musicales. Ser. B, 9.1. Munich: Henle, 1989.

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    The “Jewish” volume in a major project aiming to catalogue all manuscript music sources before 1800. Acknowledging the difficulty in finding such sources, however, this volume had its end date moved forward forty years. Most entries come from the Eduard Birnbaum Collection housed in the Cincinnati, Ohio library of the Hebrew Union College. A companion volume (B, 9.2) compiles Hebrew writings on music through 1800.

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  • Blasco, Asunción. “Jewish and Convert Jongleurs, Minstrels, and ‘Sonadores’ in Saragossa (Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries).” Orbis Musicae 12 (1998): 49–72.

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    A short article largely presenting primary evidence, but one of only a very few that addresses Jewish musicians in late medieval Spain. On that front, fascinating.

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  • Harrán, Don. Salomone Rossi: Jewish Musician in Late Renaissance Mantua. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

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    Working with limited evidence, Harrán presents a meticulous study of a fabled composer whose compositions have become symbolic of late Renaissance Jewish music—in part because little else exists. Harrán’s other studies of Jewish musicians from this era are of equally high quality.

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  • Idel, Moshe. “Conceptualizations of Music in Jewish Mysticism.” In Enchanting Powers: Music in the World’s Religions. Edited by Lawrence E. Sullivan, 159–188. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997.

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    One of several music-based articles by major kabbalah scholar Idel—this one provides the broadest overview of the topic. Draws mainly on textual sources in trying to link music with Jewish mystical practice. An expanded bibliography of music and Jewish mysticism, expanding Idel’s work, appears on the Jewish Music Research Centre’s website.

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  • Katz, Daniel S. “A Prolegomenon to the Study of the Performance Practice of Synagogue Music Involving M’shor’rim.” Journal of Synagogue Music 24.2 (December 1995): 35–79.

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    Covering the late part of this period, Katz uses Adler’s index to interrogate the nature of cantorial helpers (m’shor’rim) at the end of the 18th century and the start of the 19th century. A key study in addressing this vast and under-researched area.

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  • Matut, Diana. Dichtung und Musik im früneuzeitlichen Aschkenas. 2 vols. Boston: Brill, 2011.

    DOI: 10.1163/9789004181953Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A major source study, in German, of two 16th century manuscripts with numerous Yiddish song texts. Makes available a broad repertoire from heretofore-obscure material, offering new insight into the prosodic (and, by association, musical) production of central European Yiddish speaking communities.

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  • Seroussi, Edwin. “In Search of Jewish Musical Antiquity in the 18th Century Venetian Ghetto: Reconsidering the Hebrew Melodies of Benedetto Marcello’s ‘Estro Poetico Armonico.’” Jewish Quarterly Review 93.1–2 (July–October 2002): 149–199.

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    Like many of Seroussi’s studies, this essay takes a well-known appearance of Jewish-identified music—in this case composer Benedetto Marcello’s self-described use of Venetian synagogue melodies in the 1720s—and places it in a vigorous intellectual context.

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Music in Russia, 1880–1950

Late Empire and early Soviet Russia served as fertile ground for Jewish scholars and musicians to explore their own identities amid changing political situations. Much of the work in this era revolves around three key events and/or figures: composer Joel/Julii Engel’s work collecting music as part of the Ansky Expeditions of 1912 and 1914, the now celebrated St. Petersburg Society for Jewish Folk Music (founded 1908), and Beregovski 1982, the work of censured music ethnographer Moshe/Moisei Beregovski (1892–1961). Engel and Beregovski have been hailed as pioneering figures who incorporated music into large-scale ethnographic projects; recent scholarship has aimed to elevate/reintroduce their work into the standard narrative of Jewish music history. The Society for Jewish Folk Music, meanwhile, and its mission to establish a Jewish “style” in the art music world, had even broader resonance: its members (including Engel) continued their work in Central Europe, Palestine, and the United States long after the society had disbanded. Weisser 1954 presents an early understanding of the Society. The increased accessibility of Russian archives starting in the 1990s allowed greater access to materials about these figures (with the possible exception of Beregovski, much of whose work is held at YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, in New York), leading to the expansive and deeply detailed works, Loeffler 2010 and Nemtsov 2004. A subsequent flowering of scholarship and commemorative chamber concerts have burnished their legends and expanded their stories into broader realms both geographically and temporally. See also Móricz 2008, cited under Composers and Jewish Identity.

  • Beregovski, Moshe. Old Jewish Folk Music: The Collections and Writings of Moshe Beregovski. Translated and Edited by Mark Slobin. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982.

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    This volume introduces a substantial portion of Russian musicologist Moses Beregovski’s work to the English-speaking world. Slobin, in his introduction, argues effectively for Beregovski’s status as a major Jewish musicologist in Soviet Russia. Reissued by Syracuse University Press in 2001, which also published a second translated Beregovski volume on Jewish instrumental music that year.

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  • Loeffler, James. The Most Musical Nation: Jews and Culture in the Late Russian Empire. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010.

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    Incorporating numerous new Russian-language materials, The Most Musical Nation chronicles several notable episodes in the complex negotiation between Jews and late Empire Russian identity, from the case of Anton Rubinstein to debates between Joel Engel and Lazar Saminsky, to the activities of the Society for Jewish Folk Music, in St. Petersburg. Music, Loeffler argues, could contain and cultivate identity discussions in ways that other forms of expression, especially literature, could not.

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  • Nemtsov, Jascha. Die neue Jüdische Schule in der Musik. Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz, 2004.

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    Nemtsov, a scholar and leading performer of music from the “new Jewish School”—the musical activities emerging from St. Petersburg’s Society for Jewish Folk Music, 1908–1920s—provides an expansive picture of the era. Based on work in multiple archives, he follows key figures beyond St. Petersburg to activities in Central Europe and elsewhere.

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  • Weisser, Albert. The Modern Renaissance of Jewish Music: Events and Figures, Eastern Europe and America. New York: Bloch, 1954.

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    One of the first English-language attempts to place the Society for Jewish Folk Music into a historical context.

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Music in Central Europe, 1820–1939

Music served as a prime symbol of liturgical and theological change during the development of Jewish reform in central Europe. Accompanying the progressive inclusion of Jews in general society, Jews’ choices to introduce harmonized hymns and organs, the latter clearly delineated by Frühauf 2009, to the worship service starting in the early 19th century spurred heated debates and intra-community rancor, as described in Seroussi 1996. Yet as Bohlman 2008 beautifully illustrates, these arguments also had a benefit: namely, the production of scholarship to support musical innovations. At first these studies would come mainly in the form of composer/cantor prefaces to published collections of liturgical compositions, effectively brought out in Goldberg 1989–1990, or involved articles by Jewish sacred music practitioners in local periodicals. By the turn of the 20th century, Jewish reform institutions on both sides of the Atlantic had framed central European Jewish reform as a watershed moment in Jewish musical history. Recognized Jewish music research pioneer Abraham Z. Idelsohn, for example, placed 19th century European Jewish reform at the center of his foundational 1929 text Jewish Music in its Historical Development (New York: Holt). World War II abruptly ended this initial period of recognition. With the centers of Jewish music in central Europe destroyed, American Jewish musicologists such as Eric Werner shifted their interest to Eastern Europe as the center of Jewish authenticity and nostalgia (ironically also a center for Jewish nostalgia in central Europe; Werner’s manifesto A Voice Still Heard [Philadelphia: Pennsylvania State Univ. Press, 1976] illustrates this point well). While this era continued to have some representation in cantorial schools, it was not until the 1980s, with the reestablishment of Jewish studies in Germany and a renewed search for Reform Judaism’s roots, that central European Jewish music reemerged as a rich research topic, as described in Goldberg 1992. A major exhibit on Salomon Sulzer in his birthplace of Hohenems (Austria) yielded the Purin 1991 as part of a new round of research on the figure. Numerous subsequent exhibitions and publications have traced the musical legacy of German Jewry in new ways, as represented by Botstein and Hanak 2007 and Borchard and Zimmermann 2009 respectively. These days, interest has shifted from the major figures of the era—Salomon Sulzer, Louis Lewandowski, Hirsch Weintraub, and so forth (see their entries in Primary Sources: Liturgical)—to more obscure yet equally important sources and concepts that continue to add to the complexity of the era.

  • Bohlman, Philip. Jewish Music and Modernity. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195178326.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A complete rethinking of the era aimed at understanding how music factored into Jewish self-awareness during this modernizing period. Bohlman surveys such activities as music publication, manuscript collection, scholarship, and performance as ways to understand the symbolic transformation of Jewish identity from the start of the 19th century through the start of the Nazi period.

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  • Borchard, Beatrix, and Heidy Zimmermann, eds. Musikleben—Lebenswelten: Jüdische Identitätssuche in der deutschen Musikkultur. Cologne: Böhlau, 2009.

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    This important collection of German- and English-language essays marks the continued maturation of German-centered Jewish music study. As per the starting point for the conference, several essays address the relationship of Jews and music through the lens of violinist/composer Joseph Joachim; other essays address German conservatory education and the Nazi period.

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  • Botstein, Leon, and Werner Hanak, eds. Vienna: Jews and the City of Music, 1870–1938. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007.

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    Created to accompany an exhibition jointly sponsored by the Yeshiva University Museum at New York’s Center for Jewish History and the Jewish Museum Vienna, this collection, which includes a book and two CDs, brings together leading scholars and performers to present a rich portrait of Vienna’s Jewish musical life. Previously published in a German edition, Quasi una fantasia: Juden und die Musikstadt Wien (Hofheim: Wolke, 2003).

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  • Frühauf, Tina. The Organ and its Music in German-Jewish Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195337068.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This rich and original study, based on Frühauf’s published dissertation (in German), places the organ at the center of Jewish communal debates about Judaism’s position in relation to the rest of society (what Frühauf calls assimilation v. dissimilation).

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  • Goldberg, Geoffrey. “Neglected Sources for the Historical Study of Synagogue Music: The Prefaces to Louis Lewandowski’s Kol Rinah u’Tefillah and Todah w’Simrah. Annotated Translations.” Musica Judaica 11 (1989–1990): 28–57.

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    By highlighting these introductions, which had largely not been analyzed even though the collections were well known, Goldberg usefully revisits materials that had been considered relatively mundane. In doing so, he brings the era back to life.

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  • Goldberg, Geoffrey. “Jewish Liturgical Music in the Wake of Nineteenth Century Reform.” In Sacred Sound and Social Change: Liturgical Music in Jewish and Christian Experience. Edited by Lawrence A. Hoffman and Janet R. Walton, 59–83. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1992.

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    A concise overview of the key figures and forces behind 19th century European Jewish liturgical music reform. Ideal for undergraduate teaching.

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  • Purin, Bernhard, ed. Salomon Sulzer: Cantor, Composer, Innovator. Bregenz: Land Voralberg, 1991.

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    An English translation of several German-language essays and other materials from an exhibition catalogue at the Jewish Museum Hohenems (Sulzer’s birthplace), this book served as one of the only scholarly sources on Sulzer well into the 21st century.

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  • Seroussi, Edwin. Spanish-Portuguese Synagogue Music in Nineteenth-Century Reform Sources from Hamburg: Ancient Tradition in the Dawn of Modernity. Jerusalem: Magnes, 1996.

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    Based on his dissertation, Seroussi’s analysis of an early tradition of musical reform offers new insight into the spread of Jewish reform throughout Europe, as well as the role central European Sephardic communities played in developing the era’s new sounds.

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Holocaust/Nazi Era

The relationship between Jews and music during the Nazi period changed drastically for Jews in Central and Eastern Europe. The field of musicology in Germany transformed to fit the state’s Aryanizing agenda, causing music intellectuals, both Jewish and otherwise, to flee to the United States and elsewhere—a situation documented in Brinkmann and Wolff 1999. Vorbei 2001 and Hirsch 2010 document government sanctioned Jewish music organizations into which Central European Jewish musicians were forced in the mid-to-late 1930s. In the ghettoes and concentration camps, as addressed in Flam 1992 and more recently in a multi-sited approach of Gilbert 2005, music served on numerous levels to assert control and determine group identity, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. Since the end of World War II, numerous musical events and compositions have commemorated the dead and offered commentary on specific events and people. Scholarship on this material has shifted over time—from a focus on collection, presentation, and survivor accounts from 1945 through the 1970s as exemplified in Kaczerginsky 1948, to more detailed analysis in the 1980s and later. In the process, it has had to confront simplistic cultural assumptions about the role of music held by both scholars and the lay public. At first, Flam 1992 and similar scholarship argued for music as an acceptable mode of expression during the Holocaust, largely trading on public perceptions of music as a symbol of hope and/or “spiritual resistance.” A subsequent wave of scholarship from the 1990s onward, including Gilbert 2005, began to complicate these perceptions, exploring the structural bases of the creation of “Jewish music,” and showing music as a currency of exchange and identity under oppressive conditions. The topic has generated great interest among musicologists in Germany and the United States, in part because of its current significance to both European history and non-profit/governmental restitution/memory efforts; several major performance, recording, and scholarship projects have been undertaken on Terezín alone, and websites such as Music and the Holocaust have addressed the topic through a wide-angle, multimedia lens with the help of leading scholars. An additional wave of scholarship, still developing but best represented here by Wlodarski 2010, explores the subsequent creation of musical compositions that memorialize the Holocaust in both personal and institutional settings.

  • Brinkmann, Reinhold, and Christoph Wolff, eds. Driven Into Paradise: The Musical Migration from Nazi Germany to the United States. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.

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    In addition to significant publications by Michael Kater, Erik Levi, Pamela Potter, and Alan Steinweis, this collection brought Holocaust studies into the mainstream of historical musicology. While not focused specifically on Jews, nearly all essays address Judaism or Jewishness in some form. Also explores the impact of the Nazi era on the development of musicology and music composition internationally.

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  • Flam, Gila. Singing for Survival: Songs of the Lodz Ghetto, 1940–45. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992.

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    The first book-length scholarly discussion of Holocaust-era song repertoire, this study follows folk song research conventions by emphasizing lyrics (though including melodies in many cases) and by categorizing song by function and/or subject. In the process, commentary attempts to expand the definition of the “Holocaust song” while maintaining a mildly complicated “song as humanity” approach to the material.

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  • Gilbert, Shirli. Music in the Holocaust: Confronting Life in the Nazi Ghettos and Camps. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

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    Signaling a new direction in studies of Holocaust song, Gilbert, a historian, challenges the “spiritual resistance” narrative of previous scholarship, opting instead to see songs as a part of daily life rather than as an escape from it. The middle chapters of the book, organized by location and function, maintain earlier conventions of song classification; and the argument overall tends to privilege lyrics over music (though melodies are included).

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  • Hirsch, Lily E. A Jewish Orchestra in Nazi Germany: Musical Politics and the Berlin Jewish Culture League. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2010.

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    Hirsch’s institutional study details the idiosyncratic and often unpredictable decisions involved in creating a Jewish musical culture under Nazi supervision. The next wave of scholarship after earlier institutional studies by Steinweis and Kater.

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  • Kaczerginsky, Shmerke. Lider fun di Ghettos un Lagern. New York: Tsiko, 1948.

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    A premiere early collection of more than 230 Yiddish songs from the ghettos and concentration camps, gathered and compiled by a partisan fighter. Each entry includes lyrics, melody, and brief commentary.

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  • Music and the Holocaust.

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    A model site created under the curatorship of ORT. Offers a clear and concise overview of music during and after the Nazi period, with articles written by leading scholars on the topic. Illustrated with a remarkable combination of documents, images, and recordings (both archival and contemporary); though an increasing percentage of the links no longer work. Also see well-developed sites on the topic from the OREL Foundation and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

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  • Vorbei—Beyond Recall: A Record of Jewish Musical Life in Nazi Berlin, 1933–1938. Bear Family Records BCD 16030. Book, 11 CDs, 1 DVD. Hamburg, Germany: Bear Family Records, 2001.

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    A remarkable collection, in German and English, of more than 260 recordings, one restored film, and a lavishly illustrated book documenting the Jewish recording industry under Nazi Germany before the start of World War II.

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  • Wlodarski, Amy. “The Testimonial Aesthetics of Different Trains.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 63.1 (Spring 2010): 99–141.

    DOI: 10.1525/jams.2010.63.1.99Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    As part of a new critical engagement with musical works of Holocaust representation, Wlodarski directly interrogates American composer Steve Reich’s use (and/or misuse) of Holocaust testimonies to shape his own version of events in the signal 1988 piece “Different Trains.”

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Israel/Palestine: Major Narratives

A core narrative in the development of a Jewish state revolved around creating a Hebrew culture, often in parallel to the European culture in which much Zionist thought emerged, that would help to unify the various diasporic communities through a Middle Eastern-tinged common culture. A significant portion of Israel-centered music scholarship addresses this narrative, effectively summarized by Seroussi 2008–2009. Musicians and musicologists stood alongside the other scholars and artists in seeking modes of expression that supported this ideology. Bohlman 1992 offers a prime example of one German immigrant’s attempts to center Jewish music practice and scholarship in the future Jewish state. Hirshberg 1995 explains how Jews also established their own musical infrastructure. They also pursued acculturation programs for children and new immigrants, particularly well illustrated in the discussion in Loeffler 2010 of musicologist A. Z. Idelsohn’s time in Palestine. As noted in the Katz and Cohen 2003 account of Robert Lachmann’s struggles at Hebrew University, however, music made for a difficult fit with higher education agendas. At the same time, the infrastructure supported a compositional adventurousness that, while heterogeneous, could still be theorized as a style; Hirshberg 1990 provides one perspective on the development of that style through pioneering work of a single major composer. As the Israeli state matured, a popular music scene emerged that, as described in Regev and Seroussi 2004, maintained a complex dialogue with a sense of national identity, particularly as it extended into the post-Zionist era and the rise of Musika Mizrahit. (See also Horowitz 2010, cited under Ethnographies.) Music has also factored into the ongoing Israel/Palestine conflict; as discussed by Brinner 2009, music-based coexistence projects have arisen where musicians represent national identities in search of a meaningful and complex coexistence. The sources presented here intentionally exclude specific work on ethnic communities. These communities play an important complementary role to the central narratives: often treated as contributing to but ultimately joining the national culture. As a result, they have their own section in this bibliography (see Ethnic Communities: East and West).

  • Bohlman, Philip. The World Centre for Jewish Music in Palestine, 1936–1940. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

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    Bohlman’s work chronicles efforts by central European Jewish émigrés to spearhead an international scholarly Jewish music initiative centered in Palestine in the mid-late 1930s. The book features curated correspondence among the key players.

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  • Brinner, Benjamin. Playing Across a Divide: Israeli-Palestinian Musical Encounters. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195395945.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An ethnographic account of a music-centered peace initiative between Israelis and Palestinians, enhanced by a meticulous use of network theory. The subject matter has inevitably generated a good deal of discussion and critique, particularly in its somewhat romanticized portrayal of Palestinians in the project.

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  • Hirshberg, Jehoash. Paul Ben-Haim: His Life and Works. Jerusalem: Israel Music Institute, 1990.

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    Hirshberg’s biography, a revised version of the original Hebrew edition (1983), remains a signal work, placing a renowned émigré Israeli composer within a rich and dynamic social history. The 2010 edition (not widely available) adds a comprehensive list of works by Paul Landau.

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  • Hirshberg, Jehoash. Music in the Jewish Community of Palestine 1880–1948: A Social History. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

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    A beautifully written and researched account of music during the Yishuv (pre-state settlement) period. Hirshberg emphasizes the art music ecosystem in his retelling, including orchestras, choral groups, opera companies, and concert halls.

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  • Katz, Ruth, and Dahlia Cohen. “The Lachmann Problem”: An Unsung Chapter in Comparative Musicology. Jerusalem: Magnes, 2003.

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    Through a series of curated letters, Katz and Cohen recount the struggles of Lachmann, a founding father of sorts for music study in Israel, as he tried to negotiate the changing intellectual position of music at the developing Hebrew University. Followed up by Ruth F. Davis.

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  • Loeffler, James. “Do Zionists Read Music from Right to Left? Avraham Zvi Idelsohn and the Invention of Israeli Music.” Jewish Quarterly Review 100.3 (Summer 2010): 385–416.

    DOI: 10.1353/jqr.0.0094Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents a significant new understanding of the creation of a national Hebrew music agenda in pre-state Palestine from 1907 to 1922, through the eyes of musicologist Abraham Z. Idelsohn.

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  • Regev, Motti, and Edwin Seroussi. Popular Music and National Culture in Israel. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.

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    The history of record for Israeli popular music. Regev, a sociologist, is the leading figure in the field. After a first half that chronicles the development of rock music in the country, Regev and Seroussi move into a detailed sociological account of Musika Mizrahit, recounting how the music’s development parallels the experience of non-European Jewish communities in Israel.

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  • Seroussi, Edwin. “Music in Israel at Sixty: Processes and Experiences.” Min-Ad: Israel Studies in Musicology Online 7.2 (2008–2009).

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    A keynote presentation in a special issue devoted to Israeli musicology from a conference at the University of Virginia in April 2008. Presents a critical history and assessment of musicology in an Israeli setting.

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Ethnic Communities: East and West

Particularly in the context of the Israeli national project, social scientists in Israel were called upon to document the culture and characteristics of nonwestern communities arriving in Israel. Their work had two complementary aims: first, to illustrate the breadth of Jewish culture as developed in the diaspora; and second, to assist authorities in assimilating new immigrants into a renewed Hebrew culture. Idelsohn 1924 expressed the hope that readers would construct their own intuitive musical culture from the numerous national styles he transcribed. Structural preconceptions underlying this work divided perceptions along one major fault line: categories of “East” were often associated with pre-modernity and the Arab world, and “West” were often associated with modernity and/or the Christian world. (There is a similar East/West division within European society, with similar connotations.) Present in early studies such as Lachmann 1940 (cited under Ethnographies), as well as Israel’s folk song archive, it remained institutionalized as musicology developed in Israel in the 1960s and 1970s. Avenary 1979 and Gerson-Kiwi 1980 represent two collections organized according to this principle. While attempts to provide alternate paradigms have taken place since at least the 1990s, the East/West dichotomy continues to have a strong presence in Israeli music topics. Shiloah and Cohen 1983, for example, implies the East in their discussion of musical change; and the Jewish Music Research Centre 2009 occasional recordings series mainly produces music from communities considered exotic within the Israeli imagination.

  • Avenary, Hanoch. Encounters of East and West in Music. Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv Department of Musicology, 1979.

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    A collection of previous published articles in English and German. Remarkable not just for the articles themselves, which present a cross-section of the work of a major Israeli music scholar, but also for the title, which served as a key organizing factor in Israeli music scholarship.

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  • Gerson-Kiwi, Edith. Migrations and Mutations of Music in East and West: Selected Writings. Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv Department of Musicology, 1980.

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    Collected articles of a major Israeli music scholar. In contrast to Avenary 1979, Gerson-Kiwi’s collection has a greater emphasis on ethnographic investigation and tends to connect biblical organology with the music of ethnic communities in Israel.

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  • Idelsohn, Abraham Z. Toldot HaNeginah HaIvrit. The History of Hebrew Music. Berlin: Dvir, 1924.

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    The first part of a projected three-volume history, in Hebrew, of Hebrew music—the others were not published, but instead were adapted into Idelsohn’s Jewish Music in Its Historical Development (New York: Holt, 1929; see General Overviews). Presents an analysis of the liturgical music of several Jewish ethnic groups to help naturalize the sounds of Hebrew music, which, as Idelsohn believed, was rooted in a Middle Eastern ethos and melos. Historically significant, but hard to find.

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  • Jewish Music Research Centre. Anthology of Music Traditions in Israel. LDC 39938. 22 CDs. Jerusalem: Jewish Music Research Centre, 2009.

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    An occasional series of scholarly recordings, each centered on a specific ethnic community or moment in Israeli history. Recordings usually come with extensive liner notes by a prominent music researcher.

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  • Shiloah, Amnon, and Erik Cohen. “The Dynamics of Change in Jewish Oriental Ethnic Music in Israel.” Ethnomusicology 27.2 (May 1983): 227–252.

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    An influential article that establishes a schematic grid for understanding musical change among ethnic Jewish communities entering the modern Israeli world. Dated in retrospect, and rather biased to reflect a Zionist “ingathering of the exiles” ideology, but not all that different from much of ethnomusicology at the time.

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Sephardic Music

From an earlier emphasis, in Aguilar and De Sola 1857, on collection, classification, and questions of cultural and/or religious survivalism, the study of Sephardic music has recently begun to flourish alongside the more general flowering of Sephardic studies. Work in this area now encompasses a broad range of communities associated with the Iberian Peninsula, North Africa, the circum-Mediterranean, the Middle East, and Central Asia. (“Sephardic” in this case has become for some a necessary catchall designation for populations outside the Ashkenazic central/eastern European sphere; not all scholars use the term to describe their work, however.) Studies have consequently been informed by approaches to analysis that rely more heavily on ethnographic observation and on highlighting the complicated, contingent nature of Sephardic identity (see Lachmann 1940, cited under Ethnographies and Idelsohn 1914–1932, cited under Jewish Modal Theory for early examples). Shelemay 1998 and Kligman 2009 address the ways that a Jewish community acknowledges its dual Jewish and Arab heritage through music, while Seroussi 1989 looks at a similar issue through a single celebrated musician. Cohen 2009 and Jackson 2010 enhance existing knowledge of women as key transmitters of this music, by showing how complicated such assumptions can be: placed simultaneously in the center and at the margins of musical identity. Davis 2009, meanwhile, highlights another recent trajectory of scholarship by addressing the historical relationship of Jews in mainstream commercial entertainment with specific musical genres. Interestingly, while there is a good deal of literature coming out in this area, much of appears in collected volumes rather than journals or monographs. See also Judeo-Spanish Song.

  • Aguilar, Emanuel, and D. A. De Sola. The Ancient Melodies of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews Harmonized. London: Wessel, 1857.

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    A landmark publication of Jewish music scholarship, aiming to legitimize European Sephardic liturgical music by arguing for the durability of melodies through hundreds of years of Sephardic life. At the same time, the work harmonizes the melodies for contemporary usage.

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  • Cohen, Judith R. “‘Maria, Sister of Aaron, Play Your Tambourine’: Music in the Lives of Crypto-Jewish Women in Portugal.” El Prezente: Studies in Sephardic Culture 3 (2009).

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    A long-awaited article emerging from Cohen’s extensive ethnographic research among Portuguese Crypto-Jews. Presents a rich and sensitive discussion of the ways that song reinforces certain perceptions of Jewish identity within a complex political and economic landscape.

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  • Davis, Ruth F. “Jews, Women and the Power to be Heard: Charting the Early Tunisian Ughniyya to the Present Day.” In Music and the Play of Power in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. Edited by Laudan Noonshin, 187–206. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2009.

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    A broad historical study that reflects recent interest in Jews as historical facilitators of popular music in North Africa and Asia Minor. Davis follows the relationship of the urban- (and Jewish-) associated ughniyya musical genre with the nationalist-associated mal’uf genre as Tunisian governments and populations shifted over the twentieth century.

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  • Jackson, Maureen. “The Girl in the Tree: Gender, Istanbul Soundscapes, and Synagogue Song.” Jewish Social Studies 17.1 (Fall 2010): 31–66.

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    Jackson, a significant voice in the new wave of Sephardic music scholarship, argues for a rethinking of the role of gender in the preservation of Turkish Jewish religious musical traditions. By focusing on a single in-depth case study, she shows how women actively internalized religious musical knowledge even when they did not participate in singing publicly, and subsequently became the guardians of that tradition as social conditions changed. Incorporated into her book Mixing Musics (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2013).

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  • Kligman, Mark. Maqam and Liturgy: Ritual, Music, and Aesthetics of Syrian Jews in Brooklyn. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2009.

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    Based on Kligman’s dissertation, Maqam and Liturgy shows how the Arabic modal system (the maqamat) serves to organize Syrian Jewish communal prayer, with an emphasis on the Sabbath morning service. An illuminating study that brings together ethnography, Jewish studies, and music theory, while also dealing with the realities of conducting field research in a contemporary religious setting.

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  • Seroussi, Edwin. Mizimrat Qedem: The Life and Music of R. Isaac Algazi from Turkey. Jerusalem: Renanot-Institute for Jewish Music, 1989.

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    An early Hebrew/English work by Seroussi, who has written many studies of Sephardic music since; this book (and accompanying recording) follows the life and musical activities of a major Sephardic cantor and performer. A useful biographical work that foreshadows Seroussi’s significant work on Sephardic music to come.

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  • Shelemay, Kay K. Let Jasmine Rain Down: Song and Remembrance among Syrian Jews. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

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    A study of the Syrian Jewish pizmon tradition based on research predominantly conducted in the Brooklyn, New York community. This body of music, for which new devotional words are added to existing melodies (a process known more generally as contrafact), illustrates the many layers of cultural, religious, and social memory that embody Syrian Jewish identity.

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Judeo-Spanish Song

Judeo-Spanish song scholarship, a subset of scholarly literature on Sephardic Music, exists at the meeting point between folklore, literature, and music. Folklorists view Judeo-Spanish materials (especially the repertoire described as ballads, romances, or romanceros) as a poetic tradition practiced in Spanish and Portuguese Jewish communities, and hearkening back in some way to the pre-expulsion period. Scholars have attempted to understand the tradition’s dissemination in Sephardic communities through source documents (following a view of folklore as oral literature) and through fieldwork with contemporary communities (following a view of folklore as oral tradition). Research from earlier in the century tended to involve collecting and organizing the material as a means of creating links from past to present. Perhaps the most ambitious such approach remains that of Samuel Armistead, Joseph Silverman, and Israel J. Katz, the results of which continue to be published as Armistead, et al., Katz 1968, and Hemsi 1995. Etzion and Weich-Shahak 1993 focuses more on sociomusical analysis, while Seroussi 2003 broaches issues of gender and public identity. In addition, Cohen 2010 documents the numerous performers and groups, from Alberto Hemsi to Judith R. Cohen to Voice of the Turtle, that have built on this research to present portraits of Judeo-Spanish song in various different forms.

  • Armistead, Samuel, Israel J. Katz, and Joseph Silverman, eds. Folk Literature of the Sephardic Jews.

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    A wide-ranging website documenting Armistead, Katz, and Silverman’s field research and analysis of Romanceros and other forms between 1957 and 1993. Includes a long introduction as well as numerous lyric transcriptions and recordings, as well as information about informants and times and places of collection. Additional voluminous material can be found in the published book series of the same name.

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  • Cohen, Judith R. Judeo-Spanish Song: A Mediterranean-Wide Interactive Tradition. Trans: Revista Transcultural de Música 17 (2010).

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    A wonderful overview article that presents and then complicates the state of Judeo-Spanish song scholarship, particularly in pointing out how the songs continue to undergo shifts in meaning and identity through continued appearance in scholarly and performance settings.

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  • Etzion, Judith, and Shoshana Weich-Shahak. “‘Family Resemblances’ and Variability in the Sephardic Romancero: A Methodological and Variantal Comparison.” Journal of Music Theory 37.2 (Autumn 1993): 267–309.

    DOI: 10.2307/843785Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The pair’s most far reaching effort in their project to delineate and classify the Romancero (Judeo-Spanish ballad) repertoire both musically and textually.

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  • Hemsi, Alberto. Cancionero Sefardí. Edited by Edwin Seroussi, with Paloma Diaz-Más, José Manuel Pedrosa, and Elena Romero. Jerusalem: Jewish Music Research Centre, 1995.

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    A beautifully edited edition of a classic collection of Judeo-Spanish song. The song transcriptions themselves are supplemented with good indices as well as commentary by leading scholars in the field.

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  • Katz, Israel J. “A Judeo-Spanish Romancero.” Ethnomusicology 12.1 (January 1968): 72–85.

    DOI: 10.2307/850557Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Concisely lays out Katz’s relationship, as a musicologist, to Armistead and Silverman’s large Sephardic ballad project at the University of California, Los Angeles. Concludes with several examples illustrating the project’s musical significance. Katz published several subsequent articles following up on this project, but this one provides a strong summary of its origins and development.

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  • Seroussi, Edwin. “Archivists of Memory: Written Folksong Collections of Twentieth-Century Sephardi Women.” In Music and Gender: Perspectives from the Mediterranean. Edited by Tullia Magrini, 195–214. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

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    One of several articles that approach Judeo-Spanish song through the lens of recent gender studies scholarship. Attempts here to reinscribe women as active participants in the written preservation of Judeo-Spanish song promulgated by such collectors as Ramón Menéndez Pidal and Alberto Hemsi.

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Hasidism

The perception of Hasidism as a movement where song and dance comprise forms of spiritual striving has had a powerful impact on scholarly, cultural, philosophical, and creative discussions of music in Jewish life. Studying the topic, consequently, requires looking at musical traditions of Hasidic communities vis à vis the outside world, and looking at reflexive use by non-Hasidic communities of Hasidic musical practices to express Jewish authenticity. Melodies associated with successions of rebbes and court composers, called nigunim, have reportedly been around since the start of Hasidism. However, the vast majority of our knowledge comes from after the start of the 20th century, when expeditions by such ethnographers as S. Ansky and Abraham Z. Idelsohn (and later Moshe Beregovski) established the group’s music as its own genre. For a good overview, see Tlalim 2009. Idelsohn 1932 illustrates this practice well, with the added bonus of containing the source for the now ubiquitous song “Hava Nagilah.” Vinaver 1985 and Mazor 2004 document and classify these practices alongside those of other Jewish ethnic traditions. The American scholarship of Koskoff 2000 and Vaisman 2013, in contrast, shows greater interest in the way music circulates beyond its conventional settings, expanding the picture to include women, recent converts, and interaction with the outside world. Popular interest in Hasidism has inspired composers to turn to nigunim and reported practices of musical ecstasy to create Jewish music; compositions like Freed 1954, for example, help bring Hasidic-style worship into liberal Jewish settings. The decimation of the European Hasidic communities in World War II, meanwhile, has spurred internal efforts to consolidate and purify nigun traditions through the Zalmanoff 1949–1965 publications and recordings. Chabad Lubavitch, the most visible of the Hasidic dynasties, has influenced subsequent musical styles as well, including folk (Shlomo Carlebach) as described in Ophir 2013, reggae (Matisyahu), acoustic rock (8th Day), and hip hop (Y-Love, Ta-Shma, etc.) (see Cohen 2009, cited under Popular Music).

  • Freed, Isadore. Hassidic Service for Sabbath Eve. New York: Transcontinental Music, 1954.

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    One of several Hassidic compositions created by Jewish composers for the liberal synagogue. Typically arranged for cantor, organ and choir, these compositions emphasize minor modes, relatively simple harmony, and dancelike duple meters.

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  • Idelsohn, Abraham Z. Songs of the Chassidim. Vol. 10, The Thesaurus of Hebrew Oriental Melodies. Leipzig: Hofmeister, 1932.

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    A foundational publication, supported by a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies, that argues for the uniqueness of Hasidic song as a genre. After an extensive introduction, Idelsohn presents 250 melodies organized according to musical mode. He continues with sections on Hasidic “caricature” songs, and songs from “old manuscripts.” Issued in separate English and German editions; English edition reprinted with Vol. 8 and Vol. 9 by Tara Publications, Cedarhurst, NY, in 1999.

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  • Koskoff, Ellen. Music in Lubavitcher Life. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000.

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    A readable and accessible study of music in Chabad Lubavitch, based on about twenty years of field research in Crown Heights, Squirrel Hill (near Pittsburgh), and elsewhere. Chapters explore not just the standard nigunim, but also new nigun composition and the relation of nigunim to gender.

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  • Mazor, Yaakov. The Hasidic Niggun as Sung by the Hasidim. AMTI 0402. CD. Jerusalem: Jewish Music Research Centre, 2004.

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    Mazor, a leading Israeli researcher on Hasidic music, presents a well-integrated package that reflects on the music of eleven Hasidic dynasties with two CDs of field recordings taken in Israel and stored in the state’s National Sound Archives. Liner notes, in English and Hebrew, by Mazor.

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  • Ophir, Natan. Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach: Life, Mission, and Legacy. Jerusalem: Urim, 2013.

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    The first book-length scholarly exploration of Shlomo Carlebach’s life and philosophy. Based on over 250 interviews and extensive analysis of his writings, recordings, and videos.

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  • Tlalim, Asher, dir. Hassidic Music, 1994. DVD. Teaneck, NJ: Ergo Media, 2009.

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    A good introduction to Hasidic history, ideology, and music for classroom use, even twenty years after its creation. The 28-minute video includes both archival and staged footage. Also available with Hebrew narration. Available online.

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  • Vaisman, Asya. “‘Hold On Tightly to Tradition’: Generational Differences in Yiddish Song Repertoires among Contemporary Hasidic Women.” In Choosing Yiddish: New Frontiers of Language and Culture. Edited by Lara Rabinovitch, Shiri Goren, and Hannah Pressman. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2013.

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    The only work in this section to address music of women and girls across several Hasidic groups. Vaisman, based on her doctoral dissertation research, explores music as a mode of both memory and group identity.

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  • Vinaver, Chemjo, comp., Eliyahu Schleifer, ed. Anthology of Hassidic Music. Jerusalem: The Jewish Music Research Centre, 1985.

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    A fascinating collection of melodies and choral arrangements as seen through the eyes of respected Jewish musician and choral director Chemjo Vinaver (1895–1973). Meticulously edited and annotated by Eliyahu Schleifer, the collection exemplifies the complexity of even trying to define a Hasidic musical genre. English and Hebrew.

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  • Zalmanoff, Samuel, ed. Sefer Hanigunim. 3 vols. Brooklyn, NY: Nichoach Society, 1949–1965.

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    The fruits of a major postwar musical collection and preservation project by Chabad Lubavitch. Each volume presents a series of melodies transcribed in standard (Western) musical staff notation, and arranged according to spiritual hierarchy (including age and authorship). This most accessible of the dynasty-specific Hasidic nigun collections is also available online.

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United States: Art and Liturgical Music

The study of synagogue song and art music in America has long worked under the shadow of Central and Eastern European Jewish musical history. Kaiser and Sparger 1893 is an early example of this relationship in its attempt to imbue American Jewish synagogue expression with a long, continuous, and morally compelling history from Europe. Recently, however, scholars have begun to delineate a clearer American story, as illustrated in Shelemay 1995, Sarna 2003, and Pinnolis 2010; and Cohen 2006 follows this story beyond World War II to explore how youth developed a set of musical–cultural norms that self-consciously emphasized an American sound as the basis for spiritual expression. Heskes 1971, meanwhile, addresses the relationship of scholarship and the Jewish communal world, particularly in the transitional mid-20th century. The Milken Archive has expanded upon this picture dramatically with an ambitious recording project that helps to rethink the connections between communal identity, the conservatory, the synagogue, and the concert hall. Several other areas are still emerging, including liturgical music in orthodox movements and American Jewish ethnic communities. See also Popular Music and Summit in the Ethnographies section.

  • Cohen, Judah M. “Singing Out for Judaism: A History of Song Leaders and Song Leading at Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute.” In A Place of Our Own: The Rise of Reform Jewish Camping. Edited by Michael M. Lorge and Gary P. Zola. 173–208. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2006.

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    Describes the development of a major American liturgical music form in relation to the rise of postwar liberal Jewish camping movements.

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  • Heskes, Irene, ed. Studies in Jewish Music: Collected Writings of A. W. Binder. New York: Bloch, 1971.

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    Presents a broad range of articles by Binder, a major voice in mid-20th century American Jewish music and founder of the Music Division of the 92nd St. Y, in New York City. While not particularly scholarly by today’s standards, these essays provide insight into ways that music study straddled research and practice in a Jewish institution.

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  • Kaiser, Alois, and William Sparger. A Collection of the Principle Melodies of the Synagogue from Earliest Time to the Present. Chicago: T. Rubovitz, 1893.

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    Written as part of Jewish Women’s Congress at the World’s Parliament of Religions during Chicago’s 1893 Columbian Exposition, this collection of musical arrangements attempts to set the agenda for American Jewish musical composition.

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  • The Milken Archive of Jewish Music: The American Experience.

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    A large online collection of purchasable American art music recordings and notes, extending the Milken Archive’s initial offering of 50 CDs (2003–2007) into a series of twenty volumes. Since its launch in 2011, the site has been steadily improving. Some of its choices have been critiqued as idiosyncratic, but it provides a good selection within its self-imposed musical boundaries.

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  • Pinnolis, Judith. “‘Cantor Soprano’ Julie Rosewald: The Musical Career of a Jewish American ‘New Woman.’” American Jewish Archives Journal 62.2 (2010): 1–54.

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    An exhaustively researched article that opens up a new perspective on liturgical leadership in the 19th century. Part of a convention of article length studies on key 19th-century American cantor/composers, including Edward Stark and William Sparger; but unique in its focus on a female figure.

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  • Sarna, Jonathan. “The Question of Music in American Judaism: Reflections at 350 Years.” American Jewish History 91 (2003): 195–203.

    DOI: 10.1353/ajh.2004.0057Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Based on Sarna’s keynote address at the Milken Archive’s 2003 “Only in America” conference, this brief article succinctly lays out three key areas of discourse served particularly well by music in American history.

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  • Shelemay, Kay K. “Music in the American Synagogue: A Case Study from Houston.” In The American Synagogue: A Sanctuary Transformed. Edited by Jack Wertheimer, 395–415. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

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    Opens up the study of synagogue music in America beyond the coasts through a focused historical study on one congregation founded in the 19th century. A similar model was used by Judah Cohen in his Sounding Jewish Tradition: The Music of Central Synagogue (New York: Central Synagogue, 2011).

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Yiddish Music and Klezmer

Yiddish song held continued significance through collections and specific performers in the 1950s and 1960s, according to Rubin 2000. In the 1970s, however, what has become known as the “klezmer revival” swept Yiddish musical performance into a new era. Young musicians, interested in pursuing their own “roots music” in an emerging age of ethnic pluralism, discovered the earlier work of Jewish wedding musicians (or klezmorim) and created their own ensembles in an effort to redefine the concept of Jewish music. The movement included a significant scholarly component, fulfilled in Slobin 1982, that aimed both to document and to legitimize the scene. By the 1990s, building on the work of scholars such as Mark Slobin and Walter Zev Feldman, the subfield of “klezmerology” bridged the communal and scholarly worlds and inspired leading musicians like Hankus Netsky and Joel Rubin to obtain doctorates to complement their performing and teaching careers. Slobin 2001 provides a good window onto this scene, while Rogovoy 2000 highlights a continued journalistic/activist component, reinforced through annual gatherings such as KlezKamp and KlezKanada. The 21st century, with its expanding ideas of Yiddish musical performance, saw a concomitant scholarly shift toward critical assessment of Yiddish music and identity, exemplified in both Waligórska 2013 and Wood 2013, which focus less on reconstructing the past and more on ethnographic investigations of communal activity.

  • Rogovoy, Seth. The Essential Klezmer. Chapel Hill, CA: Algonquin, 2000.

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    One of several books for general readers by klezmer/Yiddish music journalists, musicians, and activists starting around the turn of the 21st century. As with volumes by Yale Strom and Henry Sapoznik, relies on anecdotes and interviews to tell the history. Rogovoy emphasizes recordings and resources, however, while Strom and Sapoznik, as musicians, highlight their own musical activities.

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  • Rubin, Ruth. Voices of a People: The Story of Yiddish Folksong. 2d ed. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000.

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    A classic presentation of Yiddish song by a leading collector and performer (and active participant in the folk revival of the 1950s). Originally printed by T. Yosseloff in 1963, the collection contextualizes Yiddish song as heritage music, a historical expression of the Jewish people. Songs themselves are organized according to lifecycle and historical events, including lyrics, musical notations, and anecdotal annotations.

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  • Slobin, Mark. Tenement Songs: The Popular Music of Jewish Immigrants. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982.

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    In the first book-length study of Yiddish music by an ethnomusicologist, Slobin opens the door to the field by contextualizing and then analyzing sheet music created by and for Eastern European immigrants in the United States.

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  • Slobin, Mark, ed. American Klezmer: Its Roots and Offshoots. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.

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    A stellar state-of-the-field collection based on the “First Klezmer Research Conference” at Wesleyan University in 1996 and published in an intermediate stage in Judaism 47.1 (Winter 1998). Brings together most of the leading scholars on the topic, as well as an updated version of Walter Z. Feldman’s seminal article from Ethnomusicology 38.1 (Winter 1994).

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  • Waligórska, Magdalena. Klezmer’s Afterlife: An Ethnography of the Jewish Music Revival in Poland and Germany. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

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    The most substantial publication to date in a wave of critical scholarship reassessing the klezmer revival in central and eastern Europe. Moving beyond klezmer as Jewish heritage music, Waligórska frames the music as a sensitive site of debate about national identity and culture.

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  • Wood, Abigail. “And We’re All Brothers”: Singing in Yiddish in Contemporary North America. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2013.

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    Represents a shift from klezmer-focused to Yiddish-focused music performance. Wood’s project explores Yiddish song on select European and American sites, Advocates for an expansive understanding of Yiddish performance highlighting creativity, social discourse, and contemporary aesthetics.

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Popular Music

The broad and messy category of Jewish popular music here excludes klezmer, liturgical, and Israeli music (which appear in other categories, though they sometimes receive coverage in broad surveys such as Kligman 2001) and includes downtown avant-garde music (which likely does not see itself as popular). What remains here are studies of the periods 1920–c. 1960 and 1990s–2010s—exemplified in Zuckerman, et al. 2011—that largely follow the critical intellectual tradition common in “popular music studies.” (Certainly some studies of the 1970s–1980s exist, though they usually extend the same intellectual structures or take a more journalistic style such as Stephen Lee Beeber’s The Heebie-Jeebies at CBGB’s: A Secret History of Jewish Punk [Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2006].) These two periods present important moments for American Jewish history. Melnick 1999 and Karp 2003 address the relationship of African Americans and Jews during the ramping up of the American popular music industry using cultural studies and historical models, respectively. Most 2004 brings the discussion to Broadway’s musical theater in a study that largely eschews music but brings the musical comedy form front and center as a venue for Jewish self-expression, whether explicit or implied. Barzel 2010, Cohen 2009, and Kaplan 2007 examine musical experiments in Jewish identity during an intense time of Jewish communal anxiety around the turn of the 20th century. Barzel provides a well-developed explanation for a highly visible avant-garde music-making movement that defined itself against klezmer while subverting conventional expectations associated with “Jewish music.” Cohen and Kaplan, meanwhile, include an extended discussion of the early career of Matisyahu, a Jewish reggae star supported by both a secular Jewish record label and Chabad Lubavitch; but, while Kaplan sees him as a reggae artist, Cohen looks at him within the sphere of Chabad-dominated hip-hop of the era.

  • Barzel, Tamar. “An Interrogation of Language: ‘Radical Jewish Culture’ on New York City’s Downtown Music Scene.” Journal of the Society for American Music 4.2 (May 2010): 215–250.

    DOI: 10.1017/S1752196310000039Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Through a combination of interviews, observation, and recording analysis, Barzel presents a complex and nuanced portrait of the downtown Manhattan avant-garde jazz “Radical Jewish Culture” scene spearheaded by John Zorn and others in the early 1990s.

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  • Cohen, Judah M. “Hip-Hop Judaica: The Politics of Representin’ Heebster Heritage.” Popular Music 28.1 (January 2009): 1–18.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0261143008001591Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores the development of Jewish hip-hop at the turn of the 21st century as a function of both Jewish institutional anxiety and a generational desire to complicate existing perceptions of Jewish masculinity. Includes specific discussions of Matisyahu and the Hip Hop Hoodíos.

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  • Kaplan, Louis. “Yahweh Rastafari! Matisyahu and the Aporias of Hasidic Reggae Superstardom.” Centennial Review 7.1 (Fall 2007): 15–44.

    DOI: 10.1353/ncr.2007.0025Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Using the language of critical theory, Kaplan, a media studies professor, offers a fascinating discussion of the phenomenon of Matisyahu.

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  • Karp, Jonathan. “Performing Black-Jewish Symbiosis: The ‘Hassidic Chant’ of Paul Robeson.” American Jewish History 91.1 (2003): 53–81.

    DOI: 10.1353/ajh.2004.0032Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A welcome and meticulously researched corrective to Melnick-like studies. Karp, a historian, explores the political forces that brought a Jewish-associated religious melody into Paul Robeson’s repertoire.

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  • Kligman, Mark. “Contemporary Jewish Music in America.” American Jewish Year Book 101 (2001): 88–141.

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    A landmark article exploring the development of popular musical styles in American Jewish life, organized by movement and genre. Sets the scene for a broader investigation of American Jewish popular music. Kligman has followed up this overview with a 2005 update, as well as additional work on Orthodox popular music.

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  • Melnick, Jeffrey. A Right to Sing the Blues: African Americans, Jews, and American Popular Song. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.

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    Melnick’s controversial book claims an uneven relationship between Jews and African Americans in the popular music industry and, to some extent, accuses Jews of exploiting African American musical styles for their own gain. Part polemic, part scholarship, the work has become a central reference for both acknowledging and criticizing scholarship on the black-Jewish relationship in music.

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  • Most, Andrea. Making Americans: Jews and the Broadway Musical. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.

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    While not specifically including music, Most’s well-researched book presents a structure for understanding Jewish identity within the context of musical theater, which is now a major topic for musicologists. Focuses on musical comedy between 1925 and 1950.

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  • Zuckerman, Bruce, Josh Kun, and Lisa Ansell, eds. The Song Is Not the Same: Jews and American Popular Music. The Jewish Role in American Life 8. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2011.

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    This collection brings together scholars and journalists to present a state of the field at the meeting point of Jewish and Popular Music studies. Josh Kun has been particularly active in this area, writing on the topic while also curating releases of interesting musical material as part of the Idelsohn Society for Music Preservation label.

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Ethnographies

To understand the values underlying communal music making, ethnomusicologists typically embark upon ethnographic fieldwork—living among and working closely with members of a chosen population for months or years. Researchers of music and Jewish life embraced this method from the start of the twentieth century. Most notably, Abraham Z. Idelsohn combined Jerusalem-based ethnography with an intimate knowledge of written sources to produce works that became the cornerstone of the field. Historically, we can view musical ethnography’s contributions in two phases. During the first phase, which lasted from c. 1900 to 1939, researchers employed ethnography in pursuit of a grand unifying theory of Jewish music, seeing each community’s practices as an opportunity to fill in an otherwise undocumented piece in an overall historical puzzle. In an approach compatible with the field of Comparative Musicology, or Vergleichende Musikwissenschaft (the common term before ethnomusicology was coined in the 1950s), scholars gave particular attention to communities deemed to be exotic by Western standards, and, by their logic, closer to the source of Jewish music. Lachmann 1940 presents an isolated case study of a Jewish community on an island off the coast of Tunisia, while Idelsohn 1914–1932 (see Jewish Modal Theory) presents as comprehensive a study as we will likely ever see of the practices of numerous ethnic Jewish communities. The second phase, which began in the 1970s at the hands of American-trained ethnomusicologists, pursued a more critical and heterogeneous approach to Jewish musical practices alongside similar developments in anthropology, musicology, and Jewish studies. Shelemay 1994 offers particular insight into her personal journey while studying the Beta Israel population in Ethiopia. Published from the mid-1980s onward, these ethnographic works explored the ways that communities reinforced their own senses of Jewish history and identity through their musical practices, often challenging accepted narratives of Jewish music preservation and transmission in the process. Bohlman 1989 presents German Jews in Israel as an ethnic group with distinctive musical practices. Wolberger 1994 treats text study in a Jewish day school as a musical event. Koskoff 2000 explores both likely and unlikely musical spaces in Chabad communities. Slobin 2000 seeks the human organizational ideas underpinning the late klezmer revival. Summit 2000 uses prayer music as the basis for understanding contemporary religious Jewish identity. And Horowitz 2010 brings together history, ethnographic fieldwork, and media studies to theorize the development of Mediterranean music in Israel. Several ethnographies also appear elsewhere in this bibliography, including Kligman 2009, cited under Sephardic Music and Cohen 2009, cited under Cantor.

  • Bohlman, Philip V. The Land Where Two Streams Flow: Music in the German-Jewish Community of Israel. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989.

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    After numerous studies looking at Eastern cultures within the Israeli melting pot, Bohlman’s choice to explore German Jews as an ethnic group represented contemporary trends in both anthropology and ethnomusicology toward studying urban/non-exotic populations. At the same time, this work presents a natural extension of Bohlman’s previous study of the ways folk music has been variously defined in the modern world.

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  • Horowitz, Amy. Mediterranean Music and the Politics of the Aesthetic. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2010.

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    Part chronicle, part exploration of the rise of Musika Mizrahit in Israel. Horowitz’s volume, based on extended fieldwork, theorizes the ways a new musical culture takes root. Probably the last word on a hot topic in Jewish music during the 1990s.

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  • Koskoff, Ellen. Music in Lubavitcher Life. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000.

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    The popularity of Chabad Lubavitch in ethnographic portrayals of exotic Jews receives a musical treatment here. Based on approximately twenty years of fieldwork, Koskoff explores the musical practices of the community as both ethnographer and feminist.

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  • Lachmann, Robert. Jewish Cantillation and Song in the Island of Djerba. Jerusalem: Archives of Oriental Music, Hebrew University, 1940.

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    Lachmann, a German émigré to Palestine and formed editor in Berlin of the Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Musikwissenschaft, presents his most significant Jewish ethnographic work here. In 1978, the Magnes Press published the original (expanded) German version of the work; it is currently the easiest form of the study to find. Ethnomusicologist Ruth Davis has followed up on Lachmann’s Djerba work in a number of essays.

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  • Shelemay, Kay Kaufman. A Song of Longing: An Ethiopian Journey. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994.

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    A rare glimpse into the ethnographic process, including an honest discussion of the political dilemma Shelemay faced when she determined that the liturgical music of the Ethiopian Beta Israel communities she studied did not fit with the accepted romantic narrative of longstanding Jewish identification.

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  • Slobin, Mark. Fiddler on the Move: Exploring the Klezmer World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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    The first full-length ethnography of the highly visible klezmer revival, Slobin’s study traverses multiple sites of klezmer activity, from concerts to tours to recording melographs to practices of individuals, to provide a portrait of musicians’ constant motion and creativity.

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  • Summit, Jeffrey. The Lord’s Song in a Strange Land. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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    Summit, ethnomusicologist and Hillel rabbi at Tufts University, here explores the meaning of melody choice at five Jewish congregations in the Boston area. Using the paraliturgical poem Lecha Dodi as his case study, he clearly describes how the melodies each congregation uses reflect theology, history, and communal values.

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  • Wolberger, Lionel. “Music of Holy Argument: The Ethnomusicology of a Talmud Study Session.” Studies in Contemporary Jewry IX: Modern Jews and their Musical Agendas (1994): 110–136.

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    Based on his dissertation work, Wolberger illustrates how the rising and falling vocal tone of religious text study contributes to a deeper sense of meaning. His examples are notated using a modified musical staff that focuses on direction rather than specific tone.

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Jewish Modal Theory

Jewish musicians and scholars, in step with other European Jewish efforts to contribute a broader intellectual culture in the late 19th century, attempted to establish viable theoretical models for classifying and evaluating synagogue song. Working from both chant manuscripts and personal practice, their discussions aimed to reinforce arguments for a longstanding Jewish music tradition, while creating a bridge to the works of contemporary music theorists. The most notable result of these conversations was a system of steiger or “synagogue modes”: sets of tones and tone patterns that emphasized specific emotional and devotional states in liturgical texts. Largely codified in Singer 1886, the modes have remained a source of continued fascination for scholars of Jewish music, leading to a rich and varied literature. Idelsohn 1914–1932 relies on them to explain the musical practices of different nationally based Jewish populations. Cohon 1950 shows their usefulness in bringing Jewish music into broader musicological discussions. Modal theory continues to hold an important role in training cantors and synagogue composers, both for practical purposes of understanding the construct of nusach (roughly, a sense of prayer chant) in the service, as argued in Schleifer 1986–1987; gaining holistic understanding of Jewish liturgical practice, as illustrated in Tarsi 2002; and evaluating and creating Jewish music compositions, as seen in Freed 1958. Beyond this, however, synagogue modal theory has become a touchstone for constructing intellectual narratives of Jewish musical history and analyzing musical compositions identified as Jewish, such as in Lambert 2011. See also Kligman 2009, cited under Sephardic Music, which examines the relationship between Arabic modes and the organization of the Syrian Jewish synagogue service.

  • Cohon, Baruch Joseph. “The Structure of Synagogue Prayer-Chant.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 3.1 (Spring 1950): 17–32.

    DOI: 10.2307/829846Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This important article, by the son of Samuel and A. Irma Cohon, represents the meeting point between Jewish modal theory and musicology in the postwar period. Using detailed musical charts, Cohon transforms the existing modes into “scales,” from which emerge a wide variety of modes meant to characterize important moments in the Jewish liturgical year.

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  • Freed, Isadore. Harmonizing the Synagogue Modes. New York: Sacred Music, 1958.

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    Freed, a prominent composer and synagogue musician of the mid-20th century, created this treatise as part of a postwar effort to bring Jewish music into a contemporary art music idiom. Written in the style of a harmony textbook, it remains in use at Reform and Conservative Jewish cantorial schools.

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  • Idelsohn, Abraham Z. Thesaurus of Jewish Oriental Melodies. 10 vols. Leipzig/Berlin: Breitkopf & Härtel/Benjamin Harz, 1914–1932.

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    Most of the volumes in Idelsohn’s extensive study (one for each Jewish community covered) begin with detailed discussions of mode, scale and usage. As a group they illustrate Idelsohn’s efforts to connect Jewish modal concepts with Arabic modal concepts, helping to further a grand theory of Jewish musical identity. In Hebrew, English, and German.

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  • Lambert, Philip. To Broadway, To Life! The Musical Theater of Bock and Harnick. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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    Provides a fascinating if odd example of the extent to which synagogue modal theory has entered into mainstream theoretical discourse. In this case, Lambert, a music theorist, uses modal theory to ground his discussion of Jewishness in the musical Fiddler on the Roof (chapter 6). See also chapter 9.

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  • Schleifer, Eliahu. “Anticipation in the Ashkenazi Synagogue Chant.” Orbis Musicae 7 (1986–1987): 90–102.

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    In this brief article, Schleifer, a former instructor of cantorial art (hazzanut) at the Hebrew Union College School of Sacred Music, connects the use of synagogue modes with the emotional and symbolic progression of the service. Schleifer has published little on modal theory, though he is widely acknowledged as a leading authority on the topic among cantors.

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  • Singer, Josef. Die Tonarten des traditionellen Synagogalegesangs: ihr Verhältnis zu den Kirchentonarten und den Tonarten der vorchristlichen Musikperiode. Vienna: E. M. Wetzler, 1886.

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    Although there had been a number of attempts to establish synagogue modes before Singer, a cantor from Vienna, this treatise (in German) had the greatest influence in establishing a central system, meant to stand alongside the church modes. The three modes he described—Mogen awaus (Magen Avot), Adonoj moloch (Adonai Malach), and Jishtabach (later named Ahava Rabbah)—remain central to synagogue modal theory today.

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  • Tarsi, Boaz. “Observations on Practices of ‘Nusach’ in America.” Asian Music 33.2 (2002): 175–219.

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    Tarsi, a professor of music theory at the Jewish Theological Seminary, analyzes American practices of synagogue chant in an effort to understand nusach as a dynamic entity comprising both synagogue modes and popular tunes.

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The Cantor

The musical precentor has received significant coverage in the literature on Jews and music in large part because of the modern cantorate’s leading role in creating and building Jewish music as a scholarly field. In the 19th century, these figures rose to prominence as Jewish musical spokespeople both in the synagogue and in broader society. Their efforts at gaining an intellectual foothold included forging a professional history for themselves through analysis of canonical rabbinical and scholarly texts, and defining the trappings of a distinct Jewish musical tradition within Western society. As musical artists, meanwhile, they sometimes achieved international recognition. Vigoda 1981 presents a detailed semi-first person account of the era from 1880–c. 1944, known today as the Golden Age of the cantorate, which represents the accepted high point of cantorial art. Goldberg 2002 covers the establishment of cantorial schools in 19th century Europe, and Cohen 2009 focuses on post-World War II America. While late 20th century Israel has not yet received detailed coverage, Cohen 2009 mentions Israel as a site where musical scholarship and religious practice continue to find rich resonance. Scholarly interest has also led to a number of studies, such as Sky 1992, tracing cantorial lineage in rabbinic literature. From other perspectives: Shandler 2009 documents the development of cantorial music as an iconic representation of Jewish life during the first decades of the 20th century. Slobin 1989 and Cohen 2009 explore contemporary approaches to acquiring and disseminating the cantor’s specialized musical knowledge. Anjou 2007 documents one cantor’s life and work as he attempts to preserve and transmit Jewish musical heritage. Essays in Levine 2007, moreover, reflect the expanding role of women in the cantorial world since the 1970s.

  • Anjou, Erik, dir. A Cantor’s Tale, 2005. DVD. Teaneck, NJ: Ergo Media, 2007.

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    Full-length documentary focusing on Jacob Mendelson, the Brooklyn-based cantorial culture in which he grew up, and his life as a cantor and chazzanut instructor. Consistently interesting and evocative, with Mendelson’s larger-than-life character at the center.

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  • Cohen, Judah M. The Making of a Reform Jewish Cantor: Musical Authority, Cultural Investment. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009.

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    Explores the nature of musical authority as seen through the training of cantors at the Hebrew Union College School of Sacred Music at the turn of the 21st century. In some ways, this work follows Slobin 1989 and takes it in new directions.

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  • Goldberg, Geoffrey. “The Training of Hazzanim in Nineteenth Century Germany.” Yuval 7 (2002): 299–367.

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    Based on a part of Goldberg’s dissertation, this article provides a comprehensive look at the rise of cantorial schools in Central Europe. Goldberg, a specialist in 19th century German Jewish musical practices, subsequently produced studies of other important sources from this region and period.

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  • Levine, Joseph A., ed. Special Issue: Women Cantors. Journal of Synagogue Music 32 (2007).

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    This significant issue, premised on celebrating twenty years of female cantors in the American Conservative Movement, brings together an impressive range of articles and voices that reinscribe women into cantorial history and practice, from personal recollections to edited cantorial theses to scholarship from outside the cantorial sphere.

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  • Shandler, Jeffrey. “Cantors on Trial.” In Jews, God, and Videotape: Religion and Media in America. Edited by Jeffrey Shandler, 13–55. New York: New York University Press, 2009.

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    A media-focused article that addresses the ways cantors were represented in early 20th century American culture. Addresses visual culture as well as sound recordings.

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  • Sky, Hyman. Redevelopment of the Office of Hazzan through the Talmudic Period. San Francisco: Mellen Research University Press, 1992.

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    Sky’s research provides a classic cantorial history reconstruction by tracing key terms such as “Hazzan” and “Shaliach Tzibbur” through accepted chains of rabbinic texts.

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  • Slobin, Mark. Chosen Voices: The Story of the American Cantorate. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989.

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    A touchstone study of the cantorate as it developed in the United States. Developed with the support of the Cantors Assembly (American Conservative movement), the account covers history, organization, and practice. A companion cassette, still sold by the publisher, provides illustrations of examples used in the last portion of the book.

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  • Vigoda, Samuel. Legendary Voices: The Fascinating Lives of the Great Cantors. Vol. 1. New York: Samuel Vigoda, 1981.

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    Vigoda, himself a prominent cantor, presents a kind of insider commentary on the Golden Age of cantors, going figure by figure. A significant memory reclamation project, the work is resplendent in anecdotal detail that here reflects an intimate knowledge of the scene. Vigoda did not publish any subsequent volumes.

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Composers and Jewish Identity

Scholars have tried to understand the relationship between a composer’s identity and his or her musical output since the field of musicology began. Consequently, composers with Jewish ancestry received particular scrutiny for their musical success in Euro-American society, and Conway 2012 continues this trend with increased nuance. Felix Mendelssohn, Gustav Mahler, Arnold Schoenberg, Ernest Bloch, Stefan Wolpe, and Leonard Bernstein have received particular attention: claimed by Jews as exemplars of their people, their actual lives involved fraught and highly complex relationships with Judaism. Scholars have interpreted their activities in a number of ways. Studies such as Werner 1963 and Ringer 1990 argue that the works of composers reflected their private and often undocumented struggles with personal Jewish identity, in some ways channeling late 20th century communal anxiety about American Jewish assimilation. By the mid-to-late 1990s, a new generation of scholars began to rebut such claims as wishful thinking; works such as Hallman 2002 and Sposato 2006 promote instead a paradigm that includes Judaism as one of several motivational forces for a composer’s actions. The integration of musical analysis also changed: in Schiller 2003 and Móricz 2008, music is no longer used to illustrate Judaism per se, but rather to address philosophical constructs that might have helped the composer place Judaism within larger flows of ideas. Alongside these changes, Knittel 2010 focuses anew on musical anti-Semitism, accepting, in essence, the subjectivity of Jewish identity in music while arguing for anti-Jewish perception as a more appropriate analytical frame (see also the topic Music and Anti-Judaism). Controversy surrounding this topic continues to roil, often involving researchers’ own identity politics in the process.

  • Conway, David. Jewry in Music: Entry to the Profession from the Enlightenment to Richard Wagner. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

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    Conway reassesses the relationship between Judaism and the music profession in central Europe through 1850. A meaningful attempt to reframe the discussion of the Jew in society.

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  • Hallman, Diana R. Opera, Liberalism, and Anti-Semitism in Nineteenth Century France: The Politics of Halévy’s La Juive. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

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    Perhaps the least political of the books in this section. Effectively and methodically recounts the creation and reception history of Jacques Halévy’s opera La Juive (1835), thereby illustrating the use of a musical narrative in illustrating the complex public relationship between Judaism and Catholicism in early 19th century France and later.

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  • Knittel, K. M. Seeing Mahler: Music and the Language of Anti-Semitism in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna. Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2010.

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    One of two books published on Mahler and Jewish identity in 2010, Knittel’s study focuses on ways that criticism of Mahler’s music could be interpreted as anti-Semitic. Epitomizes recent trends in scholarship that aim to characterize the discursive ways that critics “heard” Judaism in European concert music.

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  • Móricz, Klára. Jewish Identities: Nationalism, Racism, and Utopianism in Twentieth Century Music. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.

    DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520250888.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In a highly detailed analysis, Móricz argues that Jewish composers largely responded to—and in the process reinforced—prevailing theories of race and nation. At the same time, it generated controversy by avoiding an insular Jewish framework that had been the standard of previous studies.

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  • Ringer, Alexander L. Arnold Schoenberg: The Composer as Jew. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

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    Ringer brings together professional and personal agendas to argue that Arnold Schoenberg remained proudly Jewish his whole life. By reading Jewish struggle into his musical works, Ringer claims that Schoenberg’s identification as a Lutheran between 1898 and 1933 resulted from the complexities of Nazi persecution rather than apostasy.

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  • Schiller, David. Bloch, Schoenberg, Bernstein: Assimilating Jewish Music. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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    A brief, insightful study that explores how three Jewish composers negotiated Jewish, European, and American identity in the creation of the Sacred Service, A Survivor from Warsaw, and Symphony #3: Kaddish, respectively. Significant in that it approaches the composers and their works at face value rather than assuming that they inherently channeled Jewishness.

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  • Sposato, Jeffrey. The Price of Assimilation: Felix Mendelssohn and the Nineteenth Century Anti-Semitic Tradition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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    Controversial reassessment of Felix Mendelssohn’s Jewishness. Sposato claims that Werner had fabricated phrases in the Mendelssohn family letters; in fact the composer bore no personal sense of Jewish identity, though his family background caused him to be somewhat more sympathetic toward Jews later on in his life. Led to a public dispute with historians Leon Botstein and Michael Steinberg.

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  • Werner, Eric. Mendelssohn: A New Image of the Composer and His Age. London: Collier-Macmillan, 1963.

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    A study that was more influential among Jewish grounds than musicologists, even in its time. Through a reexamination of the Mendelssohn family letters and of Felix Mendelssohn’s key musical works, Werner claims that the composer maintained an active if quiet connection to Judaism. Sposato 2006 directly rebutted Werner’s research.

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Music and Anti-Judaism

In addition to works exploring the musical activities of Jews, a growing complementary literature is emerging that addresses the ways that music has marginalized Jews along anti-Semitic lines of discourse, symbolically portraying Jews as pretenders out of step with mainstream Western aesthetics and as antagonists to Christian theological tenets. While originating particularly around the essays and opera described in Wagner 1910 and explored in Levin 1996, scholarship of anti-Semitism has expanded to include the Marrissen 2007 probe of the 18th century and the Mundy 2006 analysis of the 20th century. HaCohen 2011, moreover, argues that the pattern of Jewish exclusion through music can be seen in systematic ways throughout Christian society. Arguments for Jewish musical symbolism in these studies can be slippery, and scholarship based more heavily on textual sources like Marrissen 2007 and Mundy 2006 can be seen as more convincing than scholarship that tries to divine Jewish identity through sonic or aesthetic claims.

  • HaCohen, Ruth. The Music Libel Against the Jews. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2011.

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    Part analysis, part polemic, HaCohen’s landmark study attempts to point out persistent linkages between ideas of noise in Western music and musical portrayals of Jews and/or Judaism. Although the argument often relies on circumstantial evidence, it represents a broader intellectual approach on the material—through the lens of critical theory—at its most detailed and developed.

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  • Levin, David J. “Reading Beckmesser Reading: Anti-Semitism and Aesthetic Practice in The Mastersingers of Nuremberg.” New German Critique 69 (Autumn 1996): 127–146.

    DOI: 10.2307/488611Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A key article in a continued, raging debate over the connection between Wagner’s politics and his artistic works. Levin, a literature scholar, crystallizes the terms of discussion by applying the idea of an “aesthetic of Anti-Semitism” to the Beckmesser character in Wagner’s opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg I (1868).

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  • Marrissen, Michael. “Rejoicing Against Judaism in Handel’s Messiah.” Journal of Musicology 24.2 (2007): 167–194.

    DOI: 10.1525/jm.2007.24.2.167Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    By exploring the text of Handel’s Messiah in greater detail, Marrissen points out libretto redactor Charles Jennens’ modifications to existing scripture in ways that corresponded to contemporary anti-Jewish rhetorical strategies. The scholarly version of a controversial New York Times article (“Unsettling History of That Joyous ‘Halleluah’,” April 24, 2007).

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  • Mundy, Rachel. “Musical Evolution and the Making of Hierarchy.” World of Music 48.3 (2006): 13–27.

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    A significant if unfortunately obscure article addressing the role of anti-Jewish rhetoric in shaping cultural trajectories of musical composition in interwar American society.

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  • Wagner, Richard. Judaism in Music (Das Judenthum in der Musik). Translated by Edwin Evans. London: W. Reeves, 1910.

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    A classic and highly influential anti-Semitic tract published in 1850. Accuses Jews of lacking their own creative identity and of filling that void by copying the musical identities of other nations. Ironically, the parameters of this claim (reinforced by a follow-up article in 1869) set the agenda for much subsequent research on Jews and music.

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