You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Liturgical Music’ tag.

A Fusion of Traditions: Liturgical Music in the Copenhagen Synagogue.  Jane Mink Rossen and Uri Sharvit.  Odense: University Press of Southern Denmark, 2006.  156 pp. + supplemental CD.  ISBN 978-8-7767-4038-2

Reviewed by Andrew BuckserA Fusion of Traditions

Jewish liturgical music presents a wonderful example of the way that local traditions emerge out of historical and political processes. Its content and style are often deliberately traditionalist, aiming to connect contemporary listeners to a history stretching back to the days of the prophets. That history is a complex one, however, involving thousands of years of migration, factionalism, and local variation, each of which have left their traces in the ethnic and cultural composition of any Jewish community. A Jewish service, especially a holiday service, contains a number of distinct musical events, and each of these requires a choice among the musical traditions associated with the different elements of the local community. In the music of its liturgy, therefore, every congregation literally sings out the unique fusion of traditions that make up its distinctive history. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

The Organ and Its Music in German-Jewish Culture. Tina Frühauf. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.  296 pp.  ISBN 978-0-1953-3706-8

Reviewed by Assaf Shelleg

Recent studies in Jewish art music have contributed significantly to an emerging continuum of Jewish identities in Western music, from the St. Petersburg Society for Jewish Folk Music, to Ernest Bloch’s “Jewish cycle,” to Leonard Bernstein’s symphonies[1]. Dealing with the migration of  liturgical and paraliturgical Jewish musics into Western art music, these studies try to assimilate “Jewish music” into the expanding canon of Western music while struggling with both the historical lagging of Jewish musical literacy and the pitfalls of essentialism. In the process, scholars find themselves harassed by the many sonic stereotypes that connote with “Jewish music” and are in urgent need of dispelling. Tina Frühauf’s book highlights such a stereotype, but in an inversion: the introduction of the organ, regarded emblematically as Christian (3), into the synagogue and the way it stimulated liturgical, paraliturgical, and art music—even as it “remained an oddity for Jews and non-Jews alike” (viii).

Read the rest of this entry »

(To maintain standards of academic integrity, the regular editor of Musica Judaica Online Reviews has removed himself from the review process for this book.  Mark Kligman, co-editor of the Musica Judaica journal, has graciously stepped in as guest editor. -Ed.)

The Making of a Reform Jewish Cantor: Musical Authority, Cultural Investment. Judah M. Cohen. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009. 272 pp. + CD.  ISBN 978-0-2533-5365-8

Reviewed by Scott M. Sokol

In the midst of a promising career as a scientist and academic neuropsychologist, I made the unusual decision to go back to school (at the Jewish Theological Seminary) to study for the cantorate. My department chair at the time made the off-handed comment in an interview that it was like watching your child go off to the circus (this from a knowledgeable Jew who often served as a lay “cantor” in his synagogue). Why did I need to go to cantorial school? After all, many years of Jewish education and especially Jewish camping had left me with a very good working knowledge of cantillation and nusach ha-t’fillah; I was a classically trained musician and had a good voice. What more did I need? My response to that common set of questions has remained the same to this day—namely, that I wanted to be an authentic cantor, an authority on synagogue liturgy and music, and I felt the only way to truly achieve that goal was through seminary study, and eventual investiture by a religious body.

Read the rest of this entry »

Perspectives on Jewish Music: Secular and Sacred. Jonathan L. Friedmann, ed. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2009. 162 pp. ISBN 978-0-7391-4152-6

Reviewed by Joshua S. Walden

Perspectives on Jewish Music, a collection of five essays addressing music in contemporary Jewish culture and personal Jewish history, is edited by Jonathan L. Friedmann, a cantor, string player, and author. In his introduction, Friedmann describes music as a tool of cultural preservation and emphasizes the role of music performance in defining Jewish personal and group identities throughout the Diaspora. Because of the many different contexts and conditions of Jewish life in the twentieth century, music has played a variety of roles and reflects a broad diversity of influences. This multiplicity of Jewish musical experiences is reflected in the disparate subjects of the book’s chapters.

Read the rest of this entry »