National Conference on Undergraduate Research
La Crosse, WI
Music, Russian music, Jewish music, art music
There is nothing so binding and connecting as the language of music. It is a language so deep that it goes beyond mere words and links individuals and entire societies together in a way that nothing else can. It gives outsiders a glimpse into the hearts and emotions of a people group and unites them with a single identity which is still displayed in a variety of ways. We see an example of this in the study of the music of the Jewish people. Music in Jewish culture is a complex and diverse topic, and there are several different traditions which could be included in the overarching term “Jewish” music. Many of these traditions have their roots in ancient religious music and temple worship and should be considered branches of a larger whole. Throughout history the Jewish people have been forced to disperse themselves throughout all areas of the globe largely due to racial and religious persecution; this has had a direct impact on their music. Much of the music holds to ancient traditional modes, meters and forms which are then combined with elements from the various societies into which the Jews have integrated themselves. Due to this fact, there are common threads which unify the music while still allowing it to remain regionally distinctive. In this paper I will look specifically at Eastern European culture and the way this has been represented in art music. Art music is considered to be a music which is somewhat distinct from the general culture of a people. It is music in a classical style which is separate from the characteristics of the “traditional” music of a society. However, when we apply the term “Jewish” to this idea we can then deduce that it would be classically styled music infused with the elements of traditional 2 Jewish musical composition. Jewish art music has played an important role in the development of a national identity of a people group divided by physical distance, yet united in a common origin.
Neuschwander, DeLora, "Russian Jewish Art Music: The Voice of a People" (2013). Music and Worship Student Presentations. 19.
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