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A child prodigy born August 15, 1922 in Berlin, Lukas Foss achieved remarkable distinction in the world of music as a composer, conductor, and pianist. Generally regarded as one of the great American composers of the 20th century, he was known for having an eclectic style that embraced a wide range of influences, styles and techniques, while maintaining an unmistakably unique sound. During Foss’s tenure as music director of the Kol Yisrael Orchestra in Jerusalem, he became fascinated by stories of the two oldest-known Hebrew manuscript fragments containing musically notated prayer texts and began to fashion a contemporary work around them. The result was Lammdeni, a three-movement aleatoric piece for mixed chorus and a selection of percussion or quasi-percussive-sounding instruments to be made by the conductor -- all preferably amplified. Foss’s compositional approach impressively sustains both a medieval and contemporary sound. Listen in.
Moshe Ganchoff, who died August 11, 1997, was known with deep respect throughout his life as “the cantor’s cantor” and was considered the last great master of the Golden Age of hazzanut. Serving at a number of New York City’s most prestigious synagogues, for more than 65 years he inspired legions of lay worshipers with his insightful interpretations of the liturgy. At the same time, the complexity of his art and his innate musical intelligence imbued his cantorial style with a sophistication profoundly appreciated by those with more intimate knowledge of the art -- this despite the fact that he was mostly self-taught. Ganchoff was also known for his weekly WEVD radio broadcasts over a period of more than 25 years. Learn more about Ganchoff’s life and work -- much of which will be featured in the Milken Archive’s Volume 14, coming September 4. (Photo credit: J. Abresch)
Golden Voices in the Golden Land: The Great Age of Cantorial Art in America, the Milken Archive’s Volume 14, explores the varieties and styles of eastern European virtuoso hazzanut -- the elaborate Ashkenazi cantorial art -- as it was transplanted and perpetuated in America during the first half of the 20th century. In many ways a counterpart to its earlier zenith in Europe, the 1920s–1940s was a virtual “golden age” of hazzanut in America. Liturgical settings by many of the greatest cantors and cantorial composers of that era -- including work by Yossele Rosenblatt, Israel Schorr, Moishe Oysher and Zavel Zilberts -- are heard here, reinterpreted by leading cantors of our own time. Also included in this volume are dramatic cantorial expressions that originated as music for worship but became equally well-known as concert pieces, often with full orchestral accompaniment. Preview the volume here.