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Barbecues and baseball games aside, Father’s Day also offers a chance to dig through the family archives and remember one’s roots. Herman Berlinski put that idea to music with his From The World Of My Father. After learning of his father’s death, Berlinksi decided to write a piece that would evoke and pay tribute to his family’s historical roots in eastern European Jewish life. The composition, which began its life as incidental music composed for a Paris-based émigré Yiddish theatrical troupe, went through many iterations. The version recorded by the Milken Archive is an orchestral suite that was reconstructed in America (with the Holocaust and its destruction of European Jewry in mind) after the composer’s narrow escape from the Nazis (recounted in part II his oral history).
Coming July 3, the Milken Archive’s Volume 6 features music by American Jewish composers that makes use of or reflects elements of Hassidic music and culture. The Hassidic dynasties that developed in Europe beginning in the second half of the 18th century, some of which relocated to America in the 20th century, have maintained and perpetuated distinctive, mystical traditions, including passionate, transformative and spiritual song repertoires. Volume 6’s repertoire includes a number of “Hassidic Dances,” such those by Abraham Ellstein and Leon Stein, a complete Sabbath eve service based on Hassidic motifs and a setting of a revered melody on the eshet ḥayil text by Ben Zion Shenker that is arranged by Stanley Sperber. As a whole, Volume 6 reflects American Jewry’s multifaceted attraction to this unique culture in which music and mysticism are an inextricable part of the celebration of life and faith. Listen in.
Guided by an artistic credo of "controlled imagination" and influenced by Jewish music luminaries like Ernst Bloch, Lazare Saminsky, and Frederick Jacobi, David Diamond figured prominently among mainstream American composers of the mid–late 20th century. In this oral history, the composer -- who died June 13, 2005 -- reflects on some of the key Jewish experiences of his life, major musical influences, and some of his most important Jewish-related musical works, including Mizmor l'david, and Aḥava.