2022-03-01_jewish music

Jewish Music Research

Case Study Hamburg

Mittwoch 02.03.2022 15:00 - 18:30

Click here for the live stream.

International conference at the University of Music Hamburg 1. – 3. March 2022

From the Music of the Portuguese synagogue in the 19th
to the Rolf Lieberman Era in the 20th century

The presence of Jewish Culture in Europe is going back to the times of the Roman Empire. In 2021 Germany has celebrated 1700 years of Jewish live and culture. The city of Hamburg decided in 2020 to rebuild the large [synagogue on Bornplatz](www.bornplatzsynagoge.org/), which had been destroyed 1938 during the Reichskristallnacht. On this occasion, the University of Music in Hamburg initiates an international conference on Jewish music in Hamburg past and present.

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3 – 4:30 pm

Jascha Nemtsov (Weimar) Lecture and discussion
The Cantor of the Reform Temple in Hamburg Leon Kornitzer and his journal (Der jüdische Kantor)

Leon Kornitzer was born in 4.5.1875 in Vienna and settled in Hamburg in 1913. The profound changes in synagogue music at the Hamburg Reform Temple in the early 20th century were initiated by Kornitzer, who replaced the previously cultivated Sephardic melodies and introduced music in German, which was based on Protestant church music with traditional Ashkenazic sounds. His most fruitful creative period began with his appointment as head cantor at the Hamburg Temple Association in 1913, during which he increasingly expanded his field of activity. As founder and editor of the monthly journal “Der jüdische Kantor” (1928-1938), he published musical supplements and, above all, a number of essays, most of which addressed practical questions of the precentors. Kornitzer was also the editor of a collection of synagogal, paraliturgical and folkloristic melodies by German-Jewish composers for polyphonic choir, violin and piano and piano solo, published in 1933 under the title Jüdische Klänge. Kornitzer also served as chairman of the Association of Jewish Cantors in Germany. This position helped him to obtain a visa with which he could realize his emigration to Eretz Israel in 1939, which had been planned since 1936. Until his death he worked as a conductor at the Central Synagogue in Haifa.

Jascha Nemtsov is a pianist and musicologist. His academic work focuses on Jewish music and Jewish composers in the 19th and 20th century. He is Academic Director of the Cantorial School of the Abraham Geiger College and a member of the School of Jewish Theology at the University of Potsdam. Since 2013 he has a tenure full position as Professor for History of Jewish Music at the Liszt University of Music Weimar. As a pianist he has recorded more than forty CDs, featuring numerous world premiere recordings. Many of his CDs have been honoured with various international distinctions, among them the German Record Critics Prize (2007) and the OPUS KLASSIK – the German Classic Award (2018).

5 – 6:30 pm

Jascha Nemtsov, Hervé Roten, Edwin Seroussi, Reinhard Flender (Moderation) Panel discussion
Cultural Identity and Assimilation - Jewish music in Germany and France in the 19th cent.

Jewish Music research shows that musical taste and aesthetics are a very precise indicator for cultural identity in general and for the degree of integration or assimilation of the respective Jewish communities. The case study of Hamburg is showing the ongoing dialectical process of attraction and rejection throughout more than three centuries.
Jews were not allowed to settle in the city of Hamburg until 1610. But since the 17th cent. Portuguese Jews, mainly engaged in the wholesale trade, greatly helped the commerce of the town. They were the first to open up trade with Spain and Portugal; they imported from the colonies sugar, tobacco, spices, cottons, etc., and they took a prominent part in the foundation of the Bank of Hamburg (1619). As early as the year 1627 the Portuguese Jews possessed a small place of worship, styled Talmud Torah (תלמוד תורה), in the house of Elijah Cardoso. Emperor Ferdinand II addressed bitter complaints to the senate of Hamburg about this "synagogue", the Catholics not being allowed to build a church in Hamburg at that time. But, in spite of this protest and the violent attacks of the Lutheran clergy, the senate continued to protect the Jews. In 1697 the freedom of religious practice which the congregation had obtained was disturbed by hostile edicts of the aldermen, and the Jews were extortionately taxed. On this account many of the rich and important Portuguese Jews left Hamburg, some of them laying the foundation of the Portuguese congregation of Altona, since 1640 part of Danish Holstein. This history is reflected in the change of musical traditions in the music of the synagogue. Portuguese Jews had adapted polyphonic choir music for festive occasions manifesting their cultural assimilation to European standards of art music.
France has been since the revolution in 1789 a hot spot of Jewish assimilation. Portuguese Jews were granted civic rights in 1790 and the Ashkenazy Jews of Alsace Lorraine were considered equal citizens in 1791. This fostered a new Jewish identity and innovation in the creation and production of music. Napoleons military genius exported the new republican system to the conquered territories and Jews became free citizens in the regions, occupied by him. Thus in 1811 the First French Empire annexed Hamburg and the Jews in Hamburg were emancipated, residence restrictions were dropped, and so many previously commuting Hamburg Jews took permanent residence in Hamburg proper. The high speed of assimilation, integration and emancipation of the Jewish communities in Germany and France caused traditionalists in both cultures to react: In the second half of the 19th century we see in Germany the establishing of antisemitism as part of nationalistic ideologies. This led to violent polemics as with Richard Wagner proclaiming the superiority of the German genius over Jewish ‘parvenus’ as Meyerbeer and Mendelssohn.
Parts of the Jewish communities reacted by accelerated integration as the famous Mendelssohn family and other parts especially in Eastern Europe by the revival of religious orthodoxy. Theodor Herzl developed the hope for an own Jewish state and founded the Zionist Movement.
We will discuss at what point the identification of historical models as well as the invention and development of New Jewish Music could be considered as a result from these trends and conflicts. Or should the history of Jewish Music be considered as an independent historical and cultural treasure?

program overview

Tuesday march 1st
3 – 4:30 pm Edwin Seroussi (Jerusalem) Keynote and opening session
An Unexpected Musical Encounter: Spanish-Portuguese Liturgical Music in German Synagogues
5 – 6:30 pm Hervé Roten (Paris) Lecture and discussion
The introduction of Western musical notation and the organ in the French Spanish-Portuguese communities in the 19th: changes and continuities

Wednesday march 2nd
3 – 4:30 pm Jascha Nemtsov (Weimar) Lecture and discussion
The Cantor of the Reform Temple in Hamburg Leon Kornitzer and his journal (Der jüdische Kantor)
5 – 6:30 pm Jascha Nemtsov, Hervé Roten, Edwin Seroussi, Reinhard Flender (Moderation) Panel discussion
Cultural Identity and Assimilation - Jewish music in Germany and France in the 19th cent.

Thursday march 3rd
3:00 – 4:30 Reinhard Flender Lecture and discussion
Rolf Liebermann - cultural innovation for Hamburg from NDR to the Staatsoper
5:00 – 6:30 pm Yuval Shaked (Haifa) Lecture and discussion
The opera 'Der Turm' ‒ Composer Josef Tal’s collaboration with librettist Hans Keller as conceived and reflected in their correspondence

Eintritt frei

Click here for the live stream.