The World Centre for Jewish Music in Palestine, 1936-1940: Jewish Musical Life on the Eve of World War II

By Philip V. Bohlman | Go to book overview

Introduction

CONFOUNDING our understanding of the tragedy that decimated European Jewish culture during the 1930s and 1940s has been a paucity of documentation unlike any other in modern European history. Records of Jewish communities were systematically destroyed; the turmoil of the period forced many Jews to move frequently, leaving behind few traces of their temporary residence; the human resources that would have enabled more complete oral history disappeared in the Holocaust. Not only has this incomplete documentation obfuscated our investigation of European Jewry during the Holocaust, but it has complicated a fuller examination of the crucial two decades that preceded the inception of a new Jewish culture, one bound to a new national entity and symbolized by the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Clearly, neither the termination of European Jewish culture nor the inception of Israeli society occurred abruptly. There were bridges between them, and both individuals and organizations endeavoured to create the means whereby the culture of European Jewry might undergo a rebirth and renewal in Palestine and later Israel. The Jewish cultures of Europe and Israel were, in fact, bound together by the unfolding of historical events, by the movement of people, and by the transferral of ideas. The musical cultures, furthermore, were bound together by the collective biographies of musicians searching for new opportunities and new aesthetics, even entirely new conditions under which to develop something identifiable as Jewish music. These collective biographies, such as the one this book documents, also formed the bridges between the musical cultures of Europe and Israel.

This book is an attempt to redress the lack of documentation for one area of cultural activity during this most profound moment in Jewish history: the musical life of Jewish communities in Central Europe and Palestine. The letters and other documents that appear in the following chapters were a link--literally and metaphorically--between these two centres of Jewish culture. They represent the exchange of ideas between correspondents and colleagues in Europe (and elsewhere in the Diaspora) and Palestine. They report on events in the months prior to World War II, and they discuss the structure of a musical life that would cease to exist within several years. They chronicle the final destruction of what Friedrich Battenberger so forcefully calls 'the European age of

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The World Centre for Jewish Music in Palestine, 1936-1940: Jewish Musical Life on the Eve of World War II
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements xiv
  • Contents xvii
  • List of Illustrations xxiv
  • List of Abbreviations xxv
  • Glossary xxvi
  • Note on the Translations xxix
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - European Roots 23
  • 1 - Organizing the Wcjmp in the Diaspora 25
  • 2 - Organizing the Wcjmp Abroad 54
  • 3: Social Conditions for Jewish Musicians in Germany and Europe 78
  • Part II - The Search for Fertile Soil in a New Homeland 113
  • 4 - History of the Wcjmp 115
  • 5 - Financial Endeavours of the Wcjmp 136
  • 6 - Musica Hebraica 158
  • Part III - Toward a New Musical Culture in Palestine and Israel 173
  • 7 - Musical Life in Palestine During the 1930s 175
  • 8 - Aesthetics of Jewish Music 204
  • Epilogue the Music History of the Wcjmp: 'Clues to a Puzzle, a Meaning to the Meaningless' 237
  • Appendix 261
  • Bibliography 275
  • Index 287
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