Volume VII

The Bergamasca: Some Jewish Links?

Abstract

A connection between the bergamasca, the popular Renaissance dance, and Jewish synagogue music? The idea had first been suggested by Eduard Birnbaum in his biography of Salamone Rossi (Birnbaum 1893: 31-32) and re-echoed by Eric Werner over 80 years later in A Voice Still Heard (Werner 1976: 96-98, 266). The following is an attempt to examine the history of the bergamasca and its links - hypothetical as well as confirmed - with Jewish music.

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Author: Philip Vilas Bohlman
Published online: 11.11.19
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It was 1848, and the music of central Europe's Jewish communities was in a state of chaos. In the cities, acculturation was moving ahead full throttle; in the villages and shtettls, there was a growing sense of isolation and abandonment. The very nature of Jewish identity was being questioned from within Jewish society and challenged from without. Traditional music, once a symbol of Jewish identity and an embodiment of Jewish community through performance, seemed as if it was falling into decay while the musical life of Jews continued to disintegrate. The year 1848 was, however, not a time of passive acquiescence, and the Jewish cantors of central Europe, troubled by the growing awareness that Jewish musical practices differed from community to community, from country to country, turned to the publication of a journal to enact a program of musical reform: Liturgische Zeitschrift zur Veredelung des Synagogengesangs mit Berücksichtigung des ganz Synagogenwesens ["Liturgical journal for the edification of music in the synagogue, with consideration of the entire synagogue life”].

Author: Frank Alvarez-Pereyre
Published online: 11.11.19
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En ce début du XXIe siècle, l'étude des activités de l'homme et de ses créations est soumise à plusieurs forces. La première revient à suivre sans sourciller le chemin somme toute bien balisé de la science, dont la rationalité constitue le soubassement. La deuxième soumet l'activité intellectuelle du chercheur aux feux de l'évaluation rétrospective. Cette dernière se justiife alors ou bien au nom du principe critique que toute science s'applique à elle-même; ou encore par la conviction que la démarche scientiifque ne serait pas purement spéculative et que - activité sociale parmi d'autres - elle trouverait sa raison d'être et ses traits constitutifs au sein même des groupes sociaux et de leur histoire. Un troisième élément intervient encore. Il s'agit de la place faite, dans la pratique scientifique, aux conceptions que la société dont traite le chercheur peut avoir sur elle-même et sur ses productions.

Author: Reinhard Flender
Published online: 11.11.19
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Als die Europäer begannen, ein Bewußtsein für die Geschichte ihrer kulturellen Leistungen zu entwickeln, entstanden u.a. die ersten Versuche, eine Musikgeschichte des Abendlandes zu schreiben. Dies war der Auftakt zur historischen Musikwissenschaft. 

Albrecht Schneider (1984) hat in seinem Buch: Analogie und Rekonstruktion, Studien zur Methodologie der Musikgeschichtsschreibung und zur Frühgeschichte der Musik, die verschiedenen Stadien des historischen Bewußtseins Europas herausgearbeitet. Die Wurzeln der deutschen Musikgeschichtsschreibung liegen in der Gelehrsamkeit protestantischer Humanisten wie Printz und Marpurg, die den Ursprung der Musik aus dem Alten Testament herleiten: Adam und Eva haben den Gesang erfunden, Yubal gilt als Erifnder der Instrumentalmusik und König David war der größte Musiker der vorchristlichen Ara.

Author: Judit Frigyesi
Published online: 11.11.19
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Since the nineteenth century, largely as a consequence of German Romantic aesthetics, the study of art has looked upon the process of copying with an unsympathetic eye. For the German Romantics, the use of any pre-existent element in an artwork precluded the presence of genius; in a sense, copying was diametrically opposed to art. According to this notion, artistic creation was the property of genius and the artwork was born of necessity, by the force of nature.  This concept negated the temporal nature of art. Once completed, an artwork was frozen in time, so to speak; every subsequent variant of it was necessarily viewed as an imitation, that is, as being corrupt. As a consequence of this attitude, great compositions of music - such as those of Beethoven - were often imagined as an abstract idea in the mind of the artist and that idea was believed to be inexpressible in any real form. To this thinking, performance, and even notation, were only pale approximations of the original idea.

 

Author: Moshe Idel
Published online: 11.11.19
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More than any other Jewish group, the Northern African community has adopted the book of the Zohar as a canonical text. The nature of this canonization differs from those prevalent in other parts of the Jewish world; its most characteristic feature is the ritualistic study of the book, which is quite rare outside North Africa. It is in this geographical area that commentaries on the book of the Zohar were compiled, the first and most important being that of Rabbi Shimeon ibn Lavi. Expelled from Spain, he lived for several years in Fez and then in Tripoli (Libya) where he composed his book in 1570. This commentary was destined to be one of the most important interpretations of the Zohar. Written by an isolated Kabbalist - who unlike the Kabbalists of Safed such as the disciples of Cordovero and Luria did not belong to any group - this book embraces a looser ideological approach. Lavi did not attempt to ensure the conceptual harmony between the two strata of the Zohar - namely the body of the Zohar on one hand, and the tiqqunei zohar on the other - as did Cordovero (Sack 1995: 244-286). Neither did he endeavor to introduce a full-fledged theosophical system, as did R. Isaac Luria (Scholem 1967). This does not imply that Lavi was a Kabbalist without an agenda of his own, but only that his strategy was less evident and weaker in comparison to those of his illustrious contemporaries in Safed.

Author: Don Harrán
Published online: 11.11.19
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Two preliminary questions should be raised: why Salamone Rossi? why the quotation marks around the word 'Hebrew'?
Published in 1622/23, Rossi's collection of Hebrew "Songs," viz., "The Songs of Solomon," marks a milestone in the history of sacred music as the first and, until the nineteenth century, practically only collection of religious works by a Jewish composer of art music. They were written for various combinations of three to eight voices and intended for use "on all sacred occasions." We know about the composer, his intentions and the obstacles to their realization from the prefatory matter, or commentary, which, moreover, is unusually extensive: it includes two forewords; three laudatory poems; a rabbinical responsum to a query about the legitimacy of art music in the synagogue, followed by five statements of approbation by Venetian rabbis; and a notice of copyright. These together make the collection as much a literary, historical, and sociocultural document as a musical one.

Author: Edwin Seroussi
Published online: 11.11.19
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The repertoire of qinot melodies for the Ninth of Av (the date on the Jewish calendar that commemorates the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem) constitutes one of the most ancient musical repositories in the Sephardi liturgy. Of particular musical richness are the qinot of the Sephardi communities of the Western Hemisphere. Perhaps the intense attachment of the founding fathers of these communities, the conversos from Spain and Portugal, to this holiday of mourning, remembrance and hope for redemption can explain its solemn observance until the present.

Qinot are dirges which were added after the Geonic period to the synagogue services of the Ninth of Av. In the Sephardi rite, they are sung after the 'amidah. These are strophic poems treating the central topics of the Ninth of Av: the mourning over the destruction of the Temple, and the recount of the tribulations of Israel in the exile and the expression of messianic hope for the restitution of the Temple. Most of the texts in this genre included in the Sephardi liturgy were written in medieval Spain and Italy. The Sephardi order of qinot for the Ninth of Av is printed in a special prayer book which includes the prayers for the four traditional fast days. The book is usually entitled Seder arba' ta'aniyyot, "the liturgical order of the four fasts.”

Author: Eliyahu Schleifer
Published online: 11.11.19
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If one had to select the most impressive ceremony in the traditional synagogue, it is quite certain that the choice would fall on the ritual of birkat kohanim, the threefold priestly blessing (henceforth PB). The ceremony whereby the kohanim stand barefoot in front of the ark with their prayer shawls covering their heads, bodies and hands, with their arms, stretched out under the cover, swaying right and left, is a ritual that inspires mystery and awe. The feeling of other-worldliness is greatly enhanced by the ancient chants and melodies that come from under the prayer shawls of the kohanim. All Jewish communities from Yemen to Lithuania cherish special chants for the ritual and they are all worthy of research. Yet the Ashkenazi traditions have developed the richest variety of chants, melodies and compositions for the PB.

Author: Geoffrey Goldberg
Published online: 11.11.19
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Nineteenth-century Germany witnessed a fundamental change in the process by which a hazzan learned his art. The increasing phenomenon since the later eighteenth century of individual German cantors, here and there, notating their own compositions had little effect on the basic oral nature of the tradition and the learning process. This oral transmission, from one generation to the next, from a hazzan skilled in the musical tradition to a young novice eager to learn, still flourished in Germany in the opening decades of the nineteenth century. German Jewry thus remained linked to that common phenomenon shared by all branches of Jewry, Ashkenazim, Sephardim, and the 'adot hamizrah, namely the oral transmission of synagogue chant. However, starting in the 1830s and 1840s, there occurred in Germany a serious weakening of the oral means of transmission. This occurred at the same time as the introduction of an entirely different system of cantorial training that only further attenuated the integrity of the oral tradition.

Author: Jehoash Hirshberg
Published online: 11.11.19
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In her discussion of the methodological concepts of 'emics' and 'etics' in ethnomusicology Marcia Herndon (1993: 67) has observed that "it is no longer clear that either a conceptualized dichotomy of emics vs. etics or a continuum is entirely useful. Instead, it might be well to consider congeries of possibilities..." The growing interest in the theoretical implications of case studies of the role music plays in displaced societies (Reyes-Schramm 1986; 1989; 1990) has brought out radical situations in which insiders pose as outsiders with the deliberate purpose of observing and recording their groups' practices in order to preserve their endangered heritage. This issue will be addressed from the perspective of a specific case study of the musical heritage of the Karaite Jews.

Author: Colette Sirat
Published online: 11.11.19
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En 1976, fut découvert un bâtiment d’époque romane dans la cour du palais de justice de Rouen. Deux campagnes de fouilles (1976 et 1977) furent complétées en 1980 par la fouille du sous-sol de la cave et la mise au jour d'un puits antérieur à la cave proprement dite. Que ce monument ait servi à la communauté juive ne fit pas de doute dès que Pon eut trouve des grafifti hébreux. Cependant, la destination de ce monument a donné lieu à d'intenses controverses.

Author: Judith Cohen
Published online: 11.11.19
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A connection between the bergamasca, the popular Renaissance dance, and Jewish synagogue music? The idea had first been suggested by Eduard Birnbaum in his biography of Salamone Rossi (Birnbaum 1893: 31-32) and re-echoed by Eric Werner over 80 years later in A Voice Still Heard (Werner 1976: 96-98, 266). The following is an attempt to examine the history of the bergamasca and its links - hypothetical as well as confirmed - with Jewish music.

Author: Shai Burstyn
Published online: 11.11.19
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By their very nature, catalogues and inventories of manuscripts are factual and succinct, composed of dry lists of names, titles, textual and musical incipits, folio numbers, concordances, variant spellings and other similarly "inspiring" bits of information. Bits is indeed apt, for these dry bones, usually made even direr by a complex and barely decipherable mass of unfamiliar, "unfriendly" abbreviations, are merely the stuff from which the historical and musical story may be reconstructed. Yet, as every library mole knows, next to the incomparable thrill of actually holding and studying a centuries-old original manuscript, contrary to their uninviting appearance, such inventories may in fact provide many hours of exciting intellectual stimulation, of detective work fueled by numerous guesses, many of them of the category politely called "educated," but not a few also of the "wilder" variety.

What Israel Adler has provided us with in Hebrew Notated Manuscript Sources - RISM (Adler 1989) is a treasure house of opportunities for a lifetime of such excitements. With its 230 manuscripts containing 3798 items and 4251 melodic incipits there is no question that for the first time ever the grounds of Jewish musical manuscript sources have been surveyed, mapped and presented with a sophistication, precision and comprehensiveness destined to open a new era in the scholarly study of the field.

 

Author: David Halperin
Published online: 11.11.19
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In 1761 Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg included in Volume V of his Historisch-Kritischen Beyträgen zur Aufnahme der Musik (Part 2, pp. 95-109) an essay giving a geometrical construction for equal-tempered division of the octave. In Marpurg's introduction to the essay he states that he is not at liberty to disclose the author's name, but in 1777, the index appended to Volume VI named Moses Mendelssohn as the author. In the intervening sixteen years, many had thought it to be the work of the theoretician Johann Philipp Kirnberger, and it is possible that Marpurg wanted to set the record straight by finally giving the credit to his friend Mendelssohn. Today there is no doubt that the attribution to Mendelssohn is the correct one.

 

Author: Mark Slobin
Published online: 11.11.19
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As Israel Adler has shown in a lifetime of work, the history of Jewish music is really a set of complex, interlocking histories. The researcher has to gather, sift, and problematize an extremely diverse set of source materials to create a portrait of a given Jewish community and time in terms of its musical life. One type of situation, which I call "unintentional history," arises from music created for a particular moment that suddenly passes due to the turbulence of Jewish life.  The commercially-inspired music of the Yiddish-language film of the 1930s in Poland and the United States provides an example of this sort of unintentional history of a vanished age of Jewish music, the short flowering of a vital, transatlantic Jewish cinema culture. Harsh economic and political realities combined with strong ties of family and sentiment produced an expressive system that spanned "the old home" and "the new world," and that offers us today a tiny window into the crowded landscape of those societies. Not intending to document a soon-to-vanish world, filmmakers and film composers deployed a number of myths, strategies, and repertoires in an attempt to entertain a fickle, modernizing, even assimilating public. The cameraman who filmed the wedding-dance sequence in the Polish town of Kazimierz Dolny (nad Wisa) for Yidl mitn fidl in 1938 could not have known that he was producing the only surviving footage of spontaneous pre-Holocaust folk choreography. In the present brief contribution, I will cite just a few musical moments captured on celluloid by filmmakers unaware of our irony in watching those flickering images and sporadic sounds. I’ll concentrate on two types of condensed cultural statement: images of people praying and fiddling.

Author: Ezra Fleischer
Published online: 11.11.19
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העבודה שאין לנו בעת הזאת במזרח, לא בהקשר ערבי ולא בהקשר עברי, שום התהוות ספרותית המזכירה את צורות המושח ואת צורות השיר המעין-אזורי מן הבחינות שצוינו מוכיחה בעליל שספרד של המאה העשירית שונה היתה באופי תרבותה המוסיקלית מאחיותיה שבמזרח.  שלא כאנשי המזרח, בני ספרד (הערבים, אך בוודאי גם היהודים) אהבו בשירי הזמר לא רק את הדיוק הריתמי ואת הגיוון, אלא גם את צירופם זה אל זה של יסודות לחן שונים, אסימטריים.  האופי האירופי של הצורות האלו (ואם כן: האופי האירופי של המוסיקה שמומשה בהן) מוכח בעליל מנוכחותן הקבועה והנפוצה ביותר של צורות דומות, דו-חרוזיות (או רב-חרוזיות) ואסימטריות כמותן, בשירי הזמר של כל התרבויות המערב-אירופיות של ימי הביניים.  חוקרים ראשונים ואחרונים ציינו קווי אופי כאלה לא רק בזג׳ל, הנכתב (בספרד) בערבית מדוברת מעורבת ברומנס, ולא רק בצורות היסוד של הסטרופיקה הטרובדורית הקדומה, אלא גם בסוגי שירה עממיים נפוצים, כגון ה-virelai הצרפתי, ה-villancico הספרדי, ה-carol האנגלי וה-lauda האיטלקית.  ההנחה שכל תרבויות השירה המערב-אירופיות שאלו את הצורות הללו באיזה אופן זו מזו, או כולן – מן המושח הערבי, נתקלת בקשיים גדולים, כרונולוגיים, גיאוגרפיים ועקרוניים.  היא בלתי סבירה גם מפני שהז׳אנרים הנזכרים עממיים הם ברוכם, ושאילות של צורות שיר ברמה הזאת, בפרט בהיקף עצום כזה, מתרבות לתרבות ומלשון ללשון, אינן סבירות.  אבל אם נזכור שכל סוגי השיר הללו סוגי זמר הם, יציע לנו המצע המוסיקלי האירופי המשותף של כל התרבויות הנדונות הסבר נוח ןמתקבל על הדעת מאוד לדמיונות המתמיהים האלה.  לנו הוא מושיט בקנה הסבר יפה וטבעי למהפך המתחולל בעולמן של צורות השיר העברית בספרד, המאה העשירית.

Author: Yaakov Mazor
Published online: 11.11.19
Abstract |

מקומה המרכזי של המוסיקה בהגות ובמציאות החסידית מעוגן באידיאולוגיה מוסיקלית שהתפתחה כחלק מהאידיאולוגיה החסידית הכללית. לכן שינויי תפיסה אידיאולוגיים בחסידות משתקפים בעמדה החסידית כלפי כוחה של המוסיקה ומקומה בפולחןהשינוי הבולט המשתקף בגישה למוסיקה נובע מהעתקת מרכז הכובד של העשייה הדתית בחסידות מן התחום התיאוסופי אל התחום הפסיכולוגי, מהמערכת האלוהית אל נפשו של האדם.

סקירת התפיסות החסידיות לגבי סגולותיה של המוסיקה ותפקידה בפולחן הדתי מורה על התפתחות היסטורית המסבירה קיומן של עמדות שונות ואף מנוגדות זו לזו. בכתבי הדורות הראשונים שולטות התפיסה התיאורגית. הרקע לתפיסות אלה הוא תיאוסותי ומשקף את ההשפעה שהיתה למקובלים, ובמיוחד לקבלה הלוריאנית, על תורת החסידות.  ביסוד התפיסות הללו מונחת האמונה בכוחו של האדם להשפיע, על-מעילא לתתא בכל מדרגות התחתונים״. גם אם הדבר לא נאמר במפורש, יש להניח שבאמירה זו רצה הבעש׳ט לקדש את שירי האומות, כפי שקידש את הסיפור העממי וראה בו דרך נוספת לעבודת ה, בכך שהי מספר ״מעשיות ודברים חיצונים״, אפילו נכללו בהם יסודות של עגבים וזימה, כדי להעלותם ולתקנם, ואפילו ״לייחד ייחודים״ באמצעותם.