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About Us
a message from the founder a message from the artistic director a message from the curator

The Milken Archive

A musical adventure of historic scope and proportion, the Milken Archive was founded in 1990 to document, preserve, and disseminate the vast body of music that pertains to the American Jewish experience. Over two decades, the Milken Archive has become the largest collection of American Jewish music ever assembled—more than 700 recorded works, including over 500 world premiere recordings. But the Milken Archive, known primarily up to now for its groundbreaking 50-CD series released on the Naxos label, is far more than a recording project. The Milken Archive’s collection consists of 800 hours of oral histories, 50,000 photographs and historical documents, and thousands of hours of video footage from recording sessions, interviews, and live performances, plus an extensive collection of program notes and essays—the vast majority written by Artistic Director Neil W. Levin, Professor of Music at the Jewish Theological Seminary and one of the foremost authorities on Jewish music—that provide historical and cultural context.

Audio Recordings

The musical recordings feature works by more than 200 composers, from Joseph Achron to John Zorn; multiple world-renowned artists, including Bruce Adler, Dave Brubeck, Amy Goldstein, David Krakauer, Elmar Oliveira, Sir Neville Marriner, Cantor Benzion Miller, Alberto Mizrahi, Gerard Schwarz, and Simon Spiro; and award-winning ensembles, such as the Julliard String Quartet, the Vienna Choir Boys, and the Czech Philharmonic. Much of the music in the Milken Archive was hitherto unknown to most audiences. In many cases, this music was either never recorded, or not recorded to acceptable standards, and thus in danger of being lost to future generations as both a historical record and an important expression of the American experience. The Milken Archive was founded by philanthropist Lowell Milken, who recognized not only the aesthetic merits of this music, but also its importance to current and future generations. Now entering its third decade, the Archive has become a leader in the preservation and dissemination of this diverse and substantial body of music more than 350 years in the making.

Heritage and Legacy

Though the Archive’s musical collection is voluminous, of equal importance are its collections of oral histories, interviews, photographs, and historical memorabilia, all of which lend historical depth and cultural context. Oral histories and interviews have been completed with senior cantors, veterans of the Yiddish theater, composers, conductors and others, thus preserving the knowledge, performance traditions, and stories of the individuals who brought, and continue to bring, this music to life. This unprecedented wealth of memories and first-person accounts will be a unique resource for students, scholars, documentary filmmakers, cultural historians, and anyone interested in American Jewish history.


The Milken Archive aims to:

  • preserve and disseminate music related to the American Jewish experience.
  • encourage the creation of the new music that speaks to the American Jewish experience.
  • encourage the performance of American Jewish music.
  • compile and publish historical documentation that illuminates the cultural, historical, political, social, and religious contexts in which American Jewish music has been, and continues to be, created.
  • develop educational platforms and curricula to facilitate the study of American Jewish music at secondary and university levels, as well as in adult and continuing education settings.
  • encourage academic research on the Milken Archive's materials by scholars in a variety of disciplines, including ethnomusicology, history, Jewish studies, music, and musicology.