This past Sunday concert-goers in Los Angeles were treated to the world premiere of David’s Quilt—a monumental new work based on the biblical story of David. Created by 15 composers of varying backgrounds, the 90-minute oratorio is a significant addition to the repertoire.
Over 70 years ago, another collaboratively composed biblical epic was created and premiered in Los Angeles. Commissioned by Nathaniel Shilkret, Genesis Suite brought together six of the most prominent Los Angeles Jewish composers‑nearly all emigres fleeing the rising tide of European anti-Semitism—and perhaps the most famous (and notably non-Jewish) composer of the time, Igor Stravinsky.
The resulting work by Shilkret, Schoenberg, Tansman, Milhaud, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Toch and Stravinsky, was nearly lost to history after its 1945 premiere. Fortunately, the Milken Archive, with the help of musicologist James Westby, was able to reconstruct and record the piece. The goal was not to simply document it for posterity, but as a cornerstone for future works of this scope and magnitude, like David’s Quilt.
The complete recording of Genesis Suite is featured in Episode 3 of our radio series podcast, now streaming on our website; hosted by Leonard Nimoy, and featuring commentary by Gerard Schwarz and Neil W. Levin.
The program also features excerpts from another biblically-inspired epic work, Kurt Weill’s The Eternal Road. Stream them both by visiting the link below.