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March 12, 2012
St. Patrick’s Day | Hugo Weisgall | Funerary Music
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Three hassidic dances by Leon Stein.

A Little Bit of Luck for St. Patrick’s Day

Kiss us, we’re Jewish! OK, so Judaism isn’t the first religion that springs to mind on March 17 -- but that doesn’t mean we can’t offer some good vibes for St. Patrick’s Day revelers. Yiddish theater legend Joseph Rumshinsky's A bisl libe un a bisl glik (A Bit of Love and a Bit of Luck) from the 1924 Molly Picon musical comedy Tsipke features a character begging for just one lucky break. The chorus lines include “A bit of love, and a little bit of luck / the sun shall shine for just one blink of an eye.” Perhaps it will bring you a bit of luck with your corned beef and cabbage?

Joseph Rumshinsky's A bisl libe un a bisl glik  | Learn more about the work

Naomi and ruth

An Elegy for Hugo Weisgall

One of America's most important composers of opera and large-scale song cycles, Hugo Weisgall's music reflects his intense lifelong interest in both Western and Judaic literature, and betrays a compositional approach that blends modern tonal and atonal techniques. As March 11 marked the anniversary of Weisgall’s 1997 passing, the Milken Archive staff thought it only appropriate to reconnect with his Elegy piano solo from his song cycle Psalm of the Distant Dove -- a tribute he wrote to honor his fellow composer, William Schuman.

Hugo Weisgall's Psalm of the Distant Dove  | Learn more about the work

Paying Respects to Funerary Music

In many cultures, music is an important part of the mourning and grieving process when a close friend or family member passes away. This holds true for Jewish culture as well, as the following examples illustrate. Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (pictured) -- whose own death anniversary is actually Friday, March 16 -- composed his Memorial Service for the Departed in 1960. Dedicated to his cousin, Lina Castelnuovo-Tedesco, the work contains several of the most commonly recited liturgical texts or Psalms for memorial services and funerals in all Jewish orientations, and is appropriate for any memorial service context in which organ is permitted. Of course, music for the departed need not always be functional. Henri Lazarof composed his Kaddish for Maurice Abravanel as an instrumental kaddish to honor conductor Maurice Abravanel, his long-time friend and fellow champion of new music, after Abravanel’s death in 1993.

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Memorial Service for the Departed  | Learn more about the work

Henri Lazarof's Kaddish for Maurice Abravanel  | Learn more about the work