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Canto de los Marranos 21:21
 

Liner Notes

The so-called golden age of Spanish—or Iberian—Jewry, which flourished for significant periods since the 8th century in Moslem-controlled areas of the Iberian Peninsula, had come to a gradual end by the 14th century, with the ultimate establishment of Christian hegemony in what is Spain today. Although the expansion of Christian rule was punctuated by periods of tolerance and even Jewish prosperity, the overall position of the Jews in Christian Spain deteriorated throughout the era, during which Moslem rule simultaneously shrank. By the 14th century, Jewry was subjected to fierce persecution from which it never recovered. The culminating massacres in 1391, in which an estimated 70,000 Jews were murdered and entire communities extinguished (except in Moslem-ruled Granada and in Portugal, owing to royal protection), resulted in significant numbers of Jews surrendering to baptism and conversion. Continued persecution led to a second wave of conversions in the early 15th century. Some, though not all, of these “new Christians,” or conversos, continued to practice Jewish customs and ceremonies in secret—as “crypto-Jews,” or marranos (“swine,” the derogatory epithet originally attached to them). But as nominal Christians now subject to the authority of the Inquisition—the Congregation of the Holy Office—their recidivism, covert or otherwise, would constitute heresy that could be punished legally (or “purified”) by death. Over the course of the 15th century, the road led rapidly to the outright expulsion from Spain in 1492 of all who had declined conversion.

Reflecting on the work, Levy articulated his evocative programmatic and extramusical purpose:

Canto de los Marranos seeks to evoke the tragic memory of the hunted conversos, their initially nominal Christianity together with their stubborn devotion to their ancient faith—increasingly forgotton with succeeding generations, but to which some managed to cling as long as even the faintest remembrance lingered. The work makes reference to mixtures of Roman Catholic and Hebrew liturgies—the latter in the original Hebrew at some moments, and at others in Ladino.

The work opens with a quotation from the actual 1492 expulsion decree, in English translation. The succeeding juxtapositions of Roman Catholic liturgy in Latin and original Hebrew liturgical quotations—or Ladino or Spanish translations of them—create the impression of the singer seeking to remind herself of her Jewish identity, professing outwardly what is required for public perception, as well as survival, but almost as if nullifying it with the Judaic interpolations. At the same time, those Judaic quotations might be understood as representing the inner thoughts of the conversos while they reluctantly uttered the liturgy of the official faith to which they had been forced to convert.

Ladino is a mixture of 15th-century Castilian Spanish and Hebrew, which developed as a mostly secular vernacular language of those Jews who left the Iberian Peninsula and resettled in eastern Mediterranean lands. The actual song, Benedicho su nombre, also almost certainly postdates the Spanish expulsion as a Ladino song. Levy draws upon these elements liberally here, with a degree of artistic license for powerful dramatic and poetic effect rather than for historical accuracy.

In its original version, Canto de los Marranos was a commission from the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the lay arm of the American Reform movement, and it received its premiere in 1977 by soprano Phyllis Bryn-Julson and the San Francisco Symphony, conducted by Phillipe Entremont. Despite glowing reviews and much critical acclaim, Levy subsequently withdrew it. This new version, created for the Milken Archive recording, is essentially a complete rewriting based on the original one.

By: Neil W. Levin

 

Lyrics

Texts adapted, arranged, and translated by the composer from historical sources, from the Christian and Hebrew liturgies, and from Ladino sources.

(SPOKEN):
“Inquisition has been made in the charge that Jews are persuading new Christians to leave their adopted faith and return to their ancient religion. The inquisitors accuse many of the converted of professing Christianity but practicing Judaism secretly. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of the Spains, believing great injury has been done to the holy Catholic faith, have issued an edict commanding all Jews and those converted who are found guilty of secretly observing the laws of Moses—the Marranos—depart all their kingdoms and dominions by the end of the month of July of the present year, 1492, under penalty of death.” (Quotation from the 1492 expulsion decree)

(SUNG):
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible, and in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
The only-begotten Son of God and born of the Father of all ages.

Holy, Holy, Holy,
Lord God of Hosts...

Almighty God chose us and made our people, set aside the holiness of the Sabbath.
He made us inherit the seed of Jacob.
We will honor Him on the day of the Sabbath.
The Lord will watch over whoever keeps the Sabbath, and be with him forever and ever.

Lord have mercy upon us,
Christ have mercy upon us,
Lord have mercy upon us.

Hear, O Israel,
the Lord is God, the Lord alone.

Answer us, God of Abraham, answer us.
Answer us, He who answers in the hour of need, answer us. Answer us, Fear of Isaac.
Answer us, He who answers in the hour of anguish, answer us.
Answer us, Power of Jacob, O God of mercy,
O Father, merciful and gracious, answer us.

God deliver me from eternal death on that fearful day. Deliver me...
Deliver...

May the great, mighty, and fearsome God avenge His holy servant, who was burned alive for the sanctified unity of His name.
May his blood be washed away with that of his enemies by His strong arm and repay His enemies according to their worth.
May the King, in His mercy, remind us of His merit, as it is written: Rejoice,
O ye nations, His people, since He will wash away the blood of His virtuous people and will strike fear in His adversaries and will absolve the land and His people.

Magnified and glorified be His great name.

Blessed be Your name, O Lord of the world!
Blessed be Your crown and Your abode!
May the favor of Your right hand rest upon
Your people Israel forever. In Your sanctuary reveal to Your people the gift of Your light and receive our supplications with mercy.
May it be Your will to prolong our life in well-being. Let us be numbered among the righteous, so that You may be merciful and protect Your people Israel.
You sustain everything and reign over all.
You rule over everything and all dominion is Yours.

Save me, O Father, save me.

In eternal remembrance...
Give us eternal rest, Lord.
Eternal rest.

Blessed be Your name...Amen.

Texts adapted, arranged, and translated by the composer from historical sources, from the Christian and Hebrew liturgies, and from Ladino sources.

(SPOKEN):
“Inquisition has been made in the charge that Jews are persuading new Christians to leave their adopted faith and return to their ancient religion. The inquisitors accuse many of the converted of professing Christianity but practicing Judaism secretly. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of the Spains, believing great injury has been done to the holy Catholic faith, have issued an edict commanding all Jews and those converted who are found guilty of secretly observing the laws of Moses—the Marranos—depart all their kingdoms and dominions by the end of the month of July of the  present year, 1492, under penalty of death.” (quotation from the 1492 expulsion decree)

(SUNG):
Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem,
factorem coeli et terrae, visibilium omnium
et invisibilium, et in unum Dominum,
Jesum Christum Filium Dei unigenitum,
et ex Patrem natum ante omnia saecula.

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,
Domine Deus. Sabaoth...

Enveluto Adonay escojó en nos y todo lashón
nos hizo apartar y santedad de shabat.
Nos hizo heredar todo semen de Ya’acov.
Lo honaremos en dia de shabat.
Quen guarda el shabat el Dio lo guarda
a él para siempre y siempre
el Dio va’ star con él.

Kyrie eleison,
Christe eleison,
Kyrie eleison.

sh’ma yisra’el
adonai eloheinu adonai eḥad.

Respondenos, Dio de Abraham, respondenos.
Respondenos, El que responde en ora ve-luntad,
respondenos. Respondenos, Pavor de Yits’hak.
Respondenos, El que responde
en ora de angustia, respondenos.
Respondenos, Fuerte de Ya’acov,
O Dio de la merkava, O Padre
piadoso y gracioso, repondenos.

Libera me Domine de morte aeterna i
n die illa tremenda. Libera me...
Libera...

Que venga el alto, poderoso e terribile Dios
al justo siervo Suyo, quien vivo fue quemado
por servir a la sancta unidad de Su nombre.
Que lava su sangre con la de sue enemistados
con Su fuerte braco e compense a Sus enemigos
conforme a sus merescimientos.
Haga nos memoria el Rey en
Su misericordia de Sus meritos,
como scripto está: Regocijaos,
O vosotras naciones, pueblo Suyos,
pues lavara El la sangre de Sus virtuosos
e les pondrá temor a Sus adversarios
e absolvera la tierra e Su pueblo.

yitgaddal v’yitkaddash sh’me rabba.

Bendicho Su nombre del Señor del mundo!
Bendicha Tu corona y Tu lugar! Sea Tu veluntad
con Tu pueblo Yisrael para siempre y rezgata
de Tu derecha. Amostra a Tu pueblo en casa
de Tu santedad para suntraer a nos de buendad
de Tu claridad y por recivir nuestras tefilot
con piadades. Sea veluntad delantre
de Tu que alargues a nos vidas con bien.
Y para ser yo Tu siervo contado entre los
justos por apidar sovre mi y lo que
a Tu pueblo Yisrael. Tu sos que mantienes
a todos y governas a todos.
Tu sos que podestas sovre
lo todo y el reina de Tuyo es.

Salvame, O Padre, salvame!

In memoria aeterna...
Requiem aeternum dona eis, Domine.
Requiem aeternum...

Amen...
Bendicho su nombre...Amen.


 

Credits

Composer: Marvin Levy

Length: 21:21
Genre: Symphonic

Performers: Barcelona Symphony-National Orchestra of CataloniaAna María Martínez, Soprano;  Jorge Mester, Conductor

Date Recorded: 07/01/1999
Venue: Sala Sinfonica del Auditori (C), Barcelona, Spain
Engineer: Kornacher, Bertram
Assistant Engineer: Weir, Simon
Project Manager: Schwendener, Paul

Additional Credits:

Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Texts adapted, arranged, and translated by the composer from historical sources, from the Christian and Hebrew liturgies, and from Ladino sources.

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