Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 32

BookPolin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 32

Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 32

Jews and Music-Making in the Polish Lands

Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, 32


January 14th, 2020

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With its five thematic sections covering genres from cantorial to classical to klezmer, this pioneering multi-disciplinary volume presents rich coverage of the work of musicians of Jewish origin in the Polish lands. It opens with the musical consequences of developments in Jewish religious practice: the spread of hasidism in the eighteenth century meant that popular melodies replaced traditional cantorial music, while the greater acculturation of Jews in the nineteenth century brought with it synagogue choirs. Jewish involvement in popular culture included performances for the wider public, Yiddish songs and the Yiddish theatre, and contributions of many different sorts---technical and commercial as well as creative---in the interwar years. Chapters on the classical music scene cover Jewish musical institutions, organizations, and education; individual composers and musicians; and a consideration of music and Jewish national identity. One section is devoted to the Holocaust as reflected in Jewish music, and the final section deals with the afterlife of Jewish musical creativity in Poland, particularly the resurgence of interest in klezmer music. The essays in this collection do not attempt to to define what may well be undefinable---what ‘Jewish music’ is. Rather, they provide an original and much-needed exploration of the activities and creativity of ‘musicians of the Jewish faith’.
CONTRIBUTORS: Eliyana R. Adler, Michael Aylward, Sławomir Dobrzański, Paula Eisenstein-Baker, Beth Holmgren, Sylwia Jakubczyk-Ślęczka, Daniel Katz, James Loeffler, Michael Lukin, Filip Mazurczak, Bożena Muszkalska, Julia Riegel, Ronald Robboy, Robert Rothstein, Joel E. Rubin, Adam J. Sacks, Amanda (Miryem-Khaye) Seigel, Eleanor Shapiro, Carla Shapreau, Tamara Sztyma, Bella Szwarcman-Czarnota, Joseph Toltz, Maja Trochimczyk, Magdalena Waligórska, Bret Werb, Akiva Zimmerman

"The essays in Jews and Music-Making in the Polish Lands offer rich examinations of a vast and under-studied scholarly terrain. [...] Future scholarship that embraces both the particularity of the Polish-Jewish context and the broad resonance of its themes will best advance the admirable work of this volume’s editors and contributors."J. Mackenzie Pierce, Music and Letters


"This is an essential contribution to the fields of musicology, ethnomusicology, Jewish studies, cultural studies, and European studies. The publication indeed explores Jews and music-making in Poland that is engaging and accessible."
Mark Kligman, Yearbook of Traditional Music

Author Information

François Guesnet is Professor of Modern Jewish History, University College London and chair of the Institute for Polish-Jewish Studies. His publications include ‘Chanukah and its Function in the Invention of a Jewish-Heroic Tradition in Early Zionism’ in Nationalism, Zionism and ethnic mobilisation (ed. Michael Berkowitz, 2004) and Sources on Jewish Self-Government in the Polish Lands from Its Inception to the Present, edited with Jerzy Tomaszewski (2022). Benjamin Matis is the spiritual leader of Agudath Achim Synagogue in Altoona, Pennsylvania. He qualified as a cantor and a Master of Sacred Music at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Antony Polonsky is Emeritus Professor of Holocaust Studies, Brandeis University, and Chief Historian of the Global Education Outreach Program at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. His three-volume history the Jews in Poland and Russia (2010–12), also published by the Littman Library, was awarded the Pro Historia Polonorum Prize of the Polish Senate for the best book on the history of Poland in a language other than Polish.