Page 76 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 6 (1947-1948)

Basic HTML Version

6 6
positions and harmonizations based on folksongs. I t sponsored
the organization of the “Zimra” ensemble, whose concerts further
helped to spread Jewish music as far as Siberia and the United
In the seven essays of his book, Saminsky discusses such topics
as Hassidic song, Eastern and Western synagogal music, “orig-
inality” and “borrowing^ as it relates to Jewish music, the
continuity of our Jewish musical tradition, and (for those who
are interested), the “Jewishness” of Wagner. He also coins two
new terms — Hebraic and Judaic — which introduces the reader
to Saminsky’s fundamental conception of Jewish music.
Although Lazare Saminsky’s book is scholarly in parts, and
interesting throughout, it is nevertheless highly personalized
and subjective.
The tracing of our musical heritage to the biblical cantillation
has occupied the attention of many scholars in our times. One
who has succeeded in advancing the research work in this direc-
tion is Solomon Rosowsky, who has just completed a book on
bible cantillation, to be published in New York in the near future.
Rosowsky, who has devoted practically his whole life towards an
investigation into the purely musical construction of the biblical
chant, has now devised a complete and comprehensive system of
cantillation, in its Polish-Lithuanian version, with particular
emphasis on its rhythmical aspect. His contributions in this direc-
tion are considered unique.
Outstanding in many musical fields is Curt Sachs, noted au-
thority on ancient musical cultures. Curt Sachs has greatly con-
tributed towards the study of Jewish music, by presenting it
within its ancient historical setting of surrounding cultures
of Music in the East and We^st
, New York, Norton, 1943). In
his book
History of Musical Instruments
(New York, Norton,
1940), which is a field in which he particularly excels, he gives us
the proper description and a detailed classification of ancient
Jewish musical instruments. Very important to Jewish music,
incidentally, is his clarification of the Headings of the Psalms, in
Chapter 5 of the book. Sachs discusses their interpretation, which
until recently was erroneously identified with the names of the
musical modes and ancient instruments, and proceeds to show that
the headings actually indicate certain definite melodic patterns,
prevalent at that time, to which the Psalms were sung.
A scholar who has made specific and important contributions
in the study of medieval Jewish music theory is Eric Werner, of
Hebrew Union College (“The Philosophy and Theory of Music in
Judeo-Arabic Literature,”
Hebrew Union College Annual
, 1941).
Equipped with modern scientific technique and methodology, he