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Paper 10: Elective History 1 (ii) Jewish Liturgical Music 1800-Present

Aims and objectives

This course will examine developments in European and North American Jewish liturgical music in the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries, focusing on the growth of separate Jewish denominations and Jewish communities’ responses to changes in their larger musical and social surroundings.

Description of the course

The course will be delivered through lectures and in-class discussion of material.  We will explore the liturgical music of the Jewish communities of Europe and North America, beginning with the era of Jewish political emancipation in the wake of the European Enlightenment, and continuing into the present day.  In particular, we will focus on Jewish communities in Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the three primary sources of religious reform.  We will examine Jewish musical responses to increased social contact with largely Christian host cultures, as well as to Judaism’s separation into distinct denominations including, but not limited to, Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Liberal, and Reconstructionist.  Using both scholarly and community-oriented resources, we will discuss questions surrounding the nature of Jewish religious and musical practice, the functions of music in the liturgy and the atmosphere of the synagogue, the question of locating “Jewishness” in music, the role of women in the contemporary synagogue, the relationship between Jewish communities and their surrounding cultures, how Jewish national and regional identities may be constructed through music, and the role of music in establishing the nature of the different denominations.

Lecturer: Rachel Adelstein

Study Music at Cambridge