Two Pieces in Sabbath Mood (1946) is a two-movement tone poem that depicts the spiritual parameters of the Sabbath in Jewish tradition and life. That spirit historically comprises a dual mood: a sense of peace and tranquillity that flows from the rejection and avoidance of practical daily concerns; and a mandated experience of uplifting joy on both internal and social-familial levels—shabbat ru’aḥ (Sabbath spirit)—with which nothing is permitted to interfere. It is an overall atmosphere to which observant Jews look forward during the week, and it is considered a divinely given gift to the Jewish people. Jacobi’s music captures this dual mood admirably. There are several unidentifiable but clearly derivative melodies or melodic archetypes that recall synagogue chants, modes, and motives; and there are subtle references to ubiquitous fragments of Jewish folk tunes.
The unpublished manuscript score gives the descriptive titles of the two movements as Kaddish and Oneg Shabbat, respectively. Kaddish refers to the Aramaic prayer text, sometimes identified as the doxology, which embodies the supreme acknowledgment of God’s unparalleled greatness in its expressions of unqualified glorification, praise, and worship of God unto all eternity. In various forms it is recited at various points during every public or communal prayer service (i.e., where there is a quorum of ten) to divide liturgical sections or to conclude liturgical portions. Kaddish is not, therefore, unique in any way to the Sabbath or to its liturgy, and it is not clear why or how it was selected as one of the Sabbath mood depictions in this piece—apart from its obvious spiritual parameter. Oneg Shabbat (lit., enjoyment of the Sabbath), on the other hand, refers to a social reception on the Sabbath that may combine study with nonliturgical singing and even entertainment—all in the context of the spiritual doctrine of taking delight in the peace and joy of the Sabbath.
It is not certain whether Jacobi actually designated these particular movement titles, or whether they might arbitrarily have been attached after the fact by a copyist. The titles appear on the score in professional calligraphy, which may not have been in the composer’s own hand.
Performers: Samuel Adler, Conductor; Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
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