Reflecting on a Century of Schonthal and the Passing of Schoenfield

June 18, 2024

In Her Own Words: Ruth Schonthal

Ruth Schonthal was so thoroughly musical that she couldn’t remember a time when music wasn’t constantly running through her mind—so much so that she had to train herself to listen to people speak. In this 1998 interview with the Milken Archive, Schonthal discusses her Jewish-related compositions and reflects on some pivotal life experiences, including growing up in Nazi Germany, refugee life in Sweden and Mexico, then eventually settling in the U.S. to study with Paul Hindemith.

Watch: Ruth Schonthal Oral History

Ruth Schonthal Bird over Jerusalem video preview

Curator’s Pick: A Bird Over Jerusalem

Written for flute, prepared piano, and pre-recorded tape, Schonthal’s A Bird Over Jerusalem is among the most hauntingly moving pieces in the Milken Archive’s collection—and particularly jarring in the present moment. Samples of Arabic music are juxtaposed with fragments of Hava nagila, Hatikva, Kol nidre, and a Christian chorale, reflecting the imaginary journey of a bird flying over Jerusalem in awe of the violence and hatred exchanged between different peoples who have much in common.

Paul Schoenfield

Remembering Paul Schoenfield

We are saddened by the recent passing of composer Paul Schoenfield. In a career that began with a childhood appearance on one of Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts, Schoenfield transitioned over time from a career as a pianist to focusing on composition. Schoenfield combined the soulfulness and freedom of folk music—usually Eastern European Jewish—with his own intricate and often knotty approach to composition. His recordings in the Milken Archive include several works of chamber and symphonic music, as well as excerpts from his acclaimed opera, The Merchant and the Pauper, based on a Hasidic legend.

Frank London NYTimes article

Frank London

We add our voices to the mi sheberachs being said for Jewish music giant Frank London—and his family and community—as he faces this challenging moment with his health. Since co-founding The Klezmatics in the 1980s, the multifaceted musician with more than 350 album credits has touched most corners of the Jewish music world, bringing a new awareness and understanding to the rich history of Yiddish music.

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