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

4
History of the WCJMP

BECAUSE of their abundance the letters in the archive of the WCJMP constitute the most valuable body of evidence for understanding the multitude of individual histories that converged to embody the history of the organization itself. The correspondence allows one to determine and verify the dates for many events, not just those marked by some major undertaking of the WCJMP, but the emigration of a Jewish musician from Europe or the changing affairs of European politics. In the light of this correspondence the history of the WCJMP appears as more than the activities of a constituent body in Palestine; instead, it fully reveals the extent of the organization's contacts elsewhere. Each letter serves as a link between the events in two places; each letter reveals the belief that the World Centre stood somehow to influence history. The history of the WCJMP, then, becomes inseparable from that of Jewish musical life on the eve of World War II.

The documents in this chapter form the outline of a history that had three stages. The first stage was formative. At the beginning of this stage, in fact, the World Centre itself was little more than the exchange of letters between Salli Levi and those he hoped to win to his cause. Levi sent letters to every musician and scholar who had demonstrated some interest in or support for Jewish music. Most of those to whom Levi sent letters were Jewish musicians, though a few were non-Jews who had composed works with Jewish themes (e.g. Maurice Ravel) or who might have some special interest in the aesthetic of Jewish music and nationalism motivating Levi's long-range plans (e.g. Béla Bartók). If Levi demonstrated almost unmitigated optimism in his letters, he often had to face very negative responses from many to whom he had written. A few, Bartók for example, extended verbal support to the WCJMP, but they could promise little by way of direct assistance because of the turmoil in Europe. Rather remarkably, relatively few of Levi's initial letters remained totally without answer; the latter may even have failed to reach their intended goal because of an inaccurate address or because the addressee had moved or already emigrated (see Bohlman 1986a:

-115-

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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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