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Adarim and Old Jerusalem are two of Chajes’s most beloved songs. Both reflect typical, admittedly romanticized perceptions of the aura and spirit of Jewish Palestine from early aliya (immigration) periods until statehood, and even afterward. Both songs were standard repertoire at Jewish concerts throughout America during that time frame, and were among the most conspicuous representations of modern “Jewish music”—especially in relation to Israel—on general concert programs. Both reflect the kind of aural exoticism that used to be attached to images of the region. Both songs exploit elements and clichés of the Arabic hijaz mode, with its characteristic lowered seventh degree and augmented second interval; and both expressions alternate stately, lyrical, and contemplative sentiments with sparkling dance figures.
Adarim is an artistic setting of a Palestinian shepherd song whose lyrics are by Assaf Halevi to a melody by Shlomo Weissfish. Chajes originally set it in 1939 with an accompaniment of oboe and piano, and then he created the orchestral version in 1950; but the oboe is still used to represent the quintessential shepherd’s pipe, and the pastoral quality is maintained by orchestral economy.