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Jewish Music and Modernity$
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Philip Bohlman

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195178326

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195178326.001.0001

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Jewish Music and Modernity

Philip V. Bohlman (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

As the first of three chapters on the “ontologies” of Jewish music — music’s aesthetic, cultural, and musical identities and capacity to exist in the world of modern Jewish society — this chapter includes a series of case studies that illustrate moments when Jewish music is identified as such. Invention refers to the ways in which imagining Jewish music undergoes a change to practicing and performing it. The music of the urban synagogue, therefore, passes from oral tradition to the hands of professionals in the nineteenth century, the Jewish cantors whose lives and publications the chapter details. Folk music attracts the attention of Jewish scholars, who ascribe specific attributes and categories to the music they collect in villages and publish in the cities of Europe. Above all, terms such as “Jewish music” acquire new currency by the end of the nineteenth century, inventing Jewish music for modern Jews as if that music had existed since time immemorial.

Keywords:   cantors, identity, invention, modern Jews, nineteenth century, professionals, publications, synagogue

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