Samuel Adler’s Hanukka Motet is a brief artistic concert work based on one of the most popular and most easily recognizable Hanukka songs, Y’mei ha’ḥanukka (The Days of Hanukka). It appears to have been known in 19th-century Europe as a Yiddish folk tune, to which Abraham Abrunin [Evronin] provided Hebrew lyrics. It also appears to have been known earlier with regard to the Festival of Sukkot—which, considering the historical connection between Sukkot and Hanukka, may or may not be a coincidence. It was also sung in eastern Europe as a Yiddish Hanukka song, Hanukka, oy Hanukka, a yom tov a sheyner (Hanukka . . . What a Lovely Holiday) to a poem by Mordkhe Rivesman (1868–1924). That version remains popular among Yiddish cultural circles. During the first half of the 20th century, various English adaptations were circulated in America as well, particularly for children, and the song became best known outside Hebrew- or Yiddish-speaking circles as “Hanukka, O Hanukka, Come Light the Menora.”
Adler employs a variety of developmental techniques and procedures to exploit constituent motives and other components of the tune, beginning with the inventive fragmentation of the incipit.
Performers: Samuel Adler, Conductor; Rochester Singers
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