Friday, September 18, 2020

Jewish Inspirations

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from September 22, 2017. It can be found in our archives at


Today’s post marks the Jewish New Year-  Rosh Hashana - which technically starts at sunset tonight and ends at sunset this coming Sunday. The biblical name for this holiday is Yom Teruah (literally "day of shouting or blasting"). It is the first of the Jewish High Holy Days hat occur in the early autumn of the Northern Hemisphere.

Its observance involves praying, congargating in synagogue, personal reflection, and hearing the shofar, an ancient musical horn. I guess it is appropriate to associate music with this holidaty, as we do today with some selection of “Jewish tradition”.

As I pointed out in the original commentary for today’s montage, music of Jewish tradition falls somewhere between what we think of as being music of secular, national tradition and religious / sacred music. None of the pieces I selected for this montage of music of Jewish inspiration are in my view religious in nature, but they do share the common distinctive sound, at times “schmaltzy” we associate with Jewish folk music.

The filler piece this week, Max Bruch’s Kol Nidrei, is styled as an “Adagio on 2 Hebrew Melodies for Cello and Orchestra”. It predates Bloch’s Schelomo by about 30 years. Bruch, a Protestant, first became acquainted with the Kol Nidrei melody through the cantor-in-chief of Berlin, Abraham Jacob Lichtenstein. Cantor Lichtenstein was known to have cordial relations with many Christian musicians and supported Bruch's interest in Jewish folk music. While some commentators have criticized the lack of Jewish sentiment in Bruch's piece, Bruch never presumed to write Jewish music.

The clip here is a performance by Jacqueline Du Pré, with the Israel Philharmonic under her then-husband, Daniel Barenboim.

I think you will (still) love this music too.

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