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

8
Aesthetics of Jewish Music

THE founders of the WCJMP had hoped that it would provide a forum for exploration of the aesthetics of Jewish music. The letters in the present chapter bear witness to the correspondents' perception of the World Centre as exactly such a forum. Many of the letters restrict themselves almost exclusively to discussion of aesthetic matters; in some, the question of aesthetics is bound to other issues of importance, such as how to establish musical organizations that will undergird Jewish traditional music. The excerpts from Musica Hebraica focus, indeed surprisingly, on aesthetic matters, locating these within the musical life of Germany or Palestine, and within the social institutions of that musical life.

Despite this attention to aesthetic matters, the WCJMP did not itself attempt to claim and promulgate a single, specific aesthetic viewpoint. In its correspondence, as in the pages of Musica Hebraica, the WCJMP espoused a broad aesthetic viewpoint, or, more precisely, a plurality of aesthetics, that included and embraced many different concepts of Jewish music. The only member of the leadership of the World Centre who advocated a more delimited aesthetic was Joachim Stutschewsky, but his aesthetic polemics pre-dated his arrival in Jerusalem. His voluminous early letters to the World Centre, moreover, succeeded not at all in establishing a position for his more restricted aesthetic positions at the WCJMP. The inclusivity of the WCJMP's tolerance of different aesthetics of Jewish music was essential to the overall philosophy of the organization, which could not afford to exclude any Jewish musician. The openness succeeded in attracting many different tracts concerning the exact nature of Jewish music. The aesthetic value of these letters, both those here and others in the archive, lies in assessing the interrelation of many different concepts. Comparing them to the programmes and institutions sketched in the excerpts from Musica Hebraica also affords some sense of the relations between theory, praxis, and the realities of a nascent music culture. The documents pose a number of questions and suggest a wide range of answers. To what extent was there consensus with regard to the nature of Jewish music?

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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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