History of Jewish Composers in Western Music
If there were one genera of music that has been over looked throughout music history, it would be the music of the Jewish community. Although music is a very important part of the Jewish heritage and tradition, and in spite of the fact that Jews have comprised of a very large group of people throughout Europe for thousands of years, their music is not even thought about when most people lecture about the development of western music. The fact is that not to many people out side of the Jewish community know very much about Jewish music because it has scarcely ever been written down, and most of it directly related to the Jewish religion so many people have no interest in learning about it. Be that as it may, the music of the Jewish community has coexisted and cross-culminated with popular music of the areas in which they have lived in for centuries. Therefore, it is important from a historical standpoint to at least take a brief look at Jewish music and the effects that it has had on its surrounding musical communities. The focus of this paper will deal with Jewish music of the Baroque era and what influences it may have had on music of that time.
In order to examine Jewish music as a whole, it must first be divided into two categories: liturgical music and secular music. The music of the Synagogue and the secular music that Jewish people enjoyed were quite different from each other. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E., instrumental music was outlawed in the Synagogue. Only certain types of chant were to be performed with religious ceremonies.
Liturgical music has always been a very important part of the Synagogue ritual. “The reading of the weekly scripture was intoned in fixed musical patterns” (Vinaver 15). Unlike the Christian church ceremonies that included hymns and other types of music in their services, almost the entire sermon in the Synagogue was put to music. The music was...