Title

Jewish Nationalism in Music

Lead Author Major

Nathaniel Lincoln Pergamit

Lead Author Status

Senior

Format

Oral Presentation

Faculty Mentor Name

Sarah Waltz

Faculty Mentor Email

swaltz@pacific.edu

Faculty Mentor Department

Music History

Abstract/Artist Statement

The latter half of the nineteenth century saw a major rise in nationalism. Composers began writing music that became indicative of their native land, as well as music exoticizing other people. However, the Jewish people had no land of their own; they were scattered throughout many parts of the world. This did not stop writing composers, both Jews and Gentiles, from writing what could arguably be called “Jewish music.” When looking at these works one must ask the question: “Is this an exercise in nationalism or in exoticism?”

There are four basic categories that works dealing with Jewish themes can be divided into. The first category is non-Jewish composers writing apparently nationalistic Jewish works. Composers such as Maurice Ravel and Max Bruch used traditional Jewish musical material in their works in an attempt to create authentically Jewish music. The second category is Jews writing nationalistic music. Arnold Schoenberg and Leonard Bernstein wrote works drawing upon their personal experiences as well as the music of their ancestors. The third category belongs to non-Jewish composers writing music that exoticizes the Jewish people. These are generally works by anti-Semitic composers such as Wagner and Mussorgsky who portrayed the Jews as stereotypes in their works. The final category consists of Jewish composers writing autoexotic music. Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s Fiddler on the Roof is a prime example of this concept. The musical, written by Jews, heavily portrays stereotypes of the Jewish people and music in order for the audience to understand it.

This research discusses these works through musical and lyrical analysis alongside the synthesis of to scholarly writings on Jewish music.

Location

DeRosa University Center, Room 211

Start Date

29-4-2017 1:40 PM

End Date

29-4-2017 2:00 PM

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Apr 29th, 1:40 PM Apr 29th, 2:00 PM

Jewish Nationalism in Music

DeRosa University Center, Room 211

The latter half of the nineteenth century saw a major rise in nationalism. Composers began writing music that became indicative of their native land, as well as music exoticizing other people. However, the Jewish people had no land of their own; they were scattered throughout many parts of the world. This did not stop writing composers, both Jews and Gentiles, from writing what could arguably be called “Jewish music.” When looking at these works one must ask the question: “Is this an exercise in nationalism or in exoticism?”

There are four basic categories that works dealing with Jewish themes can be divided into. The first category is non-Jewish composers writing apparently nationalistic Jewish works. Composers such as Maurice Ravel and Max Bruch used traditional Jewish musical material in their works in an attempt to create authentically Jewish music. The second category is Jews writing nationalistic music. Arnold Schoenberg and Leonard Bernstein wrote works drawing upon their personal experiences as well as the music of their ancestors. The third category belongs to non-Jewish composers writing music that exoticizes the Jewish people. These are generally works by anti-Semitic composers such as Wagner and Mussorgsky who portrayed the Jews as stereotypes in their works. The final category consists of Jewish composers writing autoexotic music. Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s Fiddler on the Roof is a prime example of this concept. The musical, written by Jews, heavily portrays stereotypes of the Jewish people and music in order for the audience to understand it.

This research discusses these works through musical and lyrical analysis alongside the synthesis of to scholarly writings on Jewish music.