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If, come June 20, the day feels like it’s dragging, it’s not your imagination. That is the day of the summer solstice, or the longest day of the year. Still, think you’re having a long, rough day? Remember that it could be worse. Jewish legend holds that the summer solstice coincides with the day Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden. The event is dramatically depicted in Alexandre Tansman’s Adam and Eve section of Genesis Suite, a collective musical retelling of the first chapter of the Old Testament by some of the most respected composers of that time -- most of whom were Jewish émigrés living in Los Angeles.
Also known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, June 19, marks the day that emancipation was officially enforced in Texas. Although Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation speech happened on September 22, 1862 and was said to go into effect at the beginning of 1863. However, it wasn't until 1865 that union soldiers came into the state to ensure the doctrine was enforced. The date, now commemorated in most states, serves as a reminder of how precious civil rights and freedoms are; something Dave Brubeck emphasized in his cantata, The Gates of Justice. Composed in the turbulent atmosphere of the Civil Rights Movement, it highlights the historical experiences of injustice and intolerance shared by Jewish and African Americans. In Brubeck’s view, its 12 movements communicate the essential message of the brotherhood of mankind: “If God created man in His image and likeness, surely He accepts all men in their diversity.” Hear a sampling of the piece and read Brubeck’s essay on its importance. (Photo credit: Alexander Gardner)
One of the 20th century's most prolific composers, Darius Milhaud drew on a wide range of both popular and art musics. Through his post at Mills College, Milhaud, (who died June 22, 1974), also taught a number of successful American musicians and composers, including Dave Brubeck. In 2000, the Milken Archive ventured to Prague to record Milhaud's masterpiece of Jewish liturgical music, Service Sacré, with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Prague Philharmonic Choir. In preparation for the recording, Milken Archive Artistic Director Neil W. Levin traveled to Paris to interview the composer’s widow, Mme Madeleine Milhaud, who described the service: “It is a work of love … It is absolutely the relationship of a creature with his god.” The story of this work and this historic recording is told in this short video documentary. Watch, listen, explore. (Photo credit: Darius and Madeleine Milhaud by Don Jones)