"Music," the noted guitarist and philosopher Jimi Hendrix once said, "is my religion."
It's a fine credo. And as Volume 6 in the Milken Archive of Jewish Music: The American Experience demonstrates, it is also a very Hassidic one.
In America, Hassidic Jews are often viewed as the Jewish equivalent of the Amish: religious traditionalists who segregate themselves by custom and dress (black hats, long sidelocks, long black coats).
But when the Hassidic movement first got underway in Eastern Europe...
What: Talking about music, it has been said, is like dancing about architecture. But how about painting about music?
In Not So Still Life, With Music: The Milken Archive of Jewish Music Presents Paintings by Ralph Gilbert, a series of 20 oil paintings explores a vast repertoire of music reflecting the scope and variety of the Jewish experience in America over the past 350 years. The exhibition is presented in conjunction with the UNC Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture’s Violins of...
As inspiration goes, it's hard to beat the birth of a nation.
So proves Volume 8 from the Milken Archive of Jewish Music: The American Experience. The music presented in Sing Unto Zion! In Praise of a National Jewish Home covers a lot of ground, from original settings of traditional pioneer (ḥalutz) songs to meditations on politics and religion in modern-day Israel. But all of it reflects the profound impact that Zionism and the emergence of a Jewish state have had on the American Jewish imagi...
In its newest multimedia volume, The Song of Prayer in Colonial and 19th-Century America, the Milken Archive of Jewish Music tackles the oldest American Jewish music in existence. It is music of the Western Sephardi tradition, a legacy of sacred song that was carried to the shores of colonial America by Jewish immigrants whose own ancestors fled religious persecution in Spain and Portugal.
“Volume 1” also features the music of the 19th century American Reform movement: songs of worship in Ge...
"It is a work of love; it is the voice of a creature communicating with his God."
That's how Madeleine Milhaud, widow of the French-Jewish composer and American transplant Darius Milhaud, described her husband's Service Sacré during an oral history interview with the Milken Archive of Jewish Music: The American Experience. (See a portion of the interview at the Archive's online museum.)
Milhaud wrote the Service in 1948 for Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco, and it remains a masterpiece of sacre...
Think of them as the first world musicians.
Music did not always travel as easily as it does today. Yet hundreds of years before the Internet made sharing music as easy as sending an e-mail, Sephardi Jews–those who originated on the Iberian Peninsula and subsequently dispersed across the globe, from North Africa and the Mediterranean to Europe, North America, and the Caribbean–were trading music with everyone they met.
The Milken Archive of Jewish Music: The American Experience presents the...
Imagine a time when actors were as likely to burst into song as they were to recite a few lines of dialogue.
A time before the golden age of movie musicals, or even the golden age of Broadway: the golden age of Yiddish theater, the heyday of Second Avenue.
Fortunately, you needn't rely on your imagination.
Thanks to the Milken Archive, that golden age lives again, captured in 50 classic songs rendered by the finest contemporary performers in Yiddish musical theater.
Born in Eastern Europe and ca...
Did you know that the musical polymath David Amram–a man who played jazz with Charles Mingus, championed “world music” before the term even existed, and was Leonard Bernstein's choice as the first composer-in-residence at the New York Philharmonic–also wrote Songs of the Soul, a three-movement symphony that melds cantorial melodies, Sabbath prayers, and Middle Eastern modes?
Or that the acclaimed German-born composer Ernst Toch, whose score for the Hollywood film Address Unknown earned h...
What's in a name?
A lot, in fact–if the name in question is klezmer, and the thing it purports to describe is Eastern European Jewish folk music.
For most of its life, the word “klezmer” meant no such thing. A Yiddishized version of the Hebrew phrase for “musical instrument” (k’li zemer, lit. “vessel of song”), the term instead referred to the kind of musician (pl., “klezmorim”) who played at wedding celebrations and various secular Jewish events in Eastern Europe from the Mi...
Think of Jewish liturgical music–the music of the synagogue, of the High Holidays and the Sabbath service–and many words come to mind. Words like "majestic," "stirring," and "meditative."
But words like "funky," "bluesy," or "swingin'"?
Well, let's be honest: not so much.
Yet based on the evidence presented by the Milken Archive, perhaps they should. Exhibit A: Volume 15: "Swing His Praises," a collection of sacred works that owe as much to blues, rock, and jazz as they do to the grand tradi...