In 1938 Rabbi Sonderling invited Schoenberg to compose an altogether new version of kol nidrei. I heard the beautiful sound of the muted horn of Alex Brown, her trumpet player, which for me was reminiscent of the Ram’s horn that I had heard in the synagogue every Yom Kippur for most of my life. Members of the BBC Singers. Like many, he was misled at first by ill-advised sources to assume and accept the unsupportable myth connecting kol nidrei historically to forced or pressured conversions, particularly among medieval Iberian Jewry. His voice was enchanting, powerful and holy. He was also a professor of Jewish thought and homiletics at the Los Angeles branch of Hebrew Union College. In his interpretation, searching for and finding that light was related to repentance, atonement, and renewal (“Let us find our light!”). I was mesmerized by the sounds from the flugelhorn and world class improvisation! Towards the end of November, 2018, I went to the the Jazz Bistro - a popular jazz spot in Toronto - to hear pianist-composer Kathleen Gorman performing with her quintet.

Clearly, the image in bishiva shel ma’ala of repentant transgressors—most important for Schoenberg, those who have sworn false allegiances or espoused false doctrines and values—being permitted both religiously and socially on Yom Kippur eve to rejoin the Jewish people still struck a sensitive nerve with reference to his prior Christian conversion. Yet at times he appeared outwardly to be contradicting himself—by proposing, for example, the irrelevance of geographic location to the united national objective, or when he bemoaned the Zionist Congress’s earlier vote to reject the British offer of Uganda in place of Palestine. Rather, this is a highly original artistic approach, in which not only the text and its multiple layers of meaning but also its very purpose and function are reexamined, reimagined, and reinterpreted de novo in light of philosophical, theological, and even—on some planes—political or quasi-political agendas. Finally, it blames attachments to Palestine for having precluded, over the centuries (i.e., not only with reference to the Uganda proposal), a Jewish national home elsewhere. In Germany and Vienna, for example, replacement texts had ranged from Psalm 130 (set to the kol nidrei melody either in the original Hebrew, mi ma’amakim, or in a German version as Aus der Tiefe ruf ich….) Recorded at Number 9 Audio Group, a renowned recording studio in the heart of Toronto, with gifted audio engineer Bernie Cisternas. He was convinced that overreliance on tradition risked spiritual stagnation and liturgical rigidity. Kathleen’s music was transporting, with rich harmony and soulful resolutions, which may also have triggered the idea of a jazz version of the Kol Nidre in my brain that night! It is styled as an Adagio on 2 Hebrew Melodies for Cello and Orchestra with Harp and consists of a series of variations on two main themes of Jewish origin. Even though I am Christian I am going to Kol nidre service with my Jewish friends. They bore little if any relation to the policies and procedures of the mainstream Zionist movement and its tributaries, or even to Vladimir Jabotinsky’s opposing Revisionist Zionist program. CHOIR All vows and oaths and promises and plights of any kind, wherewith we pledged ourselves counter to our inherited faith in God, Who is One, Everlasting, Unseen, Unfathomable, we declare these null and void. Should they be assessed in the context of the composer’s own resentment and frustration at perceived artistic rejection or cultural exclusion should they be attributed, jointly or in part, to a degree of narcissism, to unchecked ego, to internal identity conflicts, or to some form of immature “acting out” (to invoke later 20th-century jargon), even if only as a misguided albeit justifiable response to contemporaneous events in Europe and what seemed like international indifference. Wednesday night marks the beginning of Yom Kippur, one of the holiest days of the year in Judaism. The first theme, which also lends the piece its title, comes from the Kol Nidre declaration, which is recited during the evening service on Yom Kippur. Schoenberg altered the original legal absolution and annulment formula, reinterpreting it in the context of modern rabbinical explanations concerning its purported true and intended meaning—as a commitment to avoid in the future all dangerous, unrealistic, inappropriate, wrongful, or insupportable vows and obligations that could jeopardize the Jews’ sacred mission and that not only could not, but should not be fulfilled. Such magnificent sounds. Photo Credit: Nico Jolliet. By the time Schoenberg was engaged in composing Kol Nidre, he must have been well along the road to completing “A Four-Point Program for Jewry”;it was finished only two months later. He saw this as the exclusive antidote to an otherwise perpetually and unalterably uncertain position of world Jewry. Rabbi Sonderling narrated the script. Hence, the interweaving of or zaru’a latzaddik and kol nidrei, rather than their usual presentation as separate pronouncements, as if to illustrate that illumination precedes, induces, and guides repentance and return. It would be decades before the term (signifying the embracive body of Jewish mystical literature) and its collective substance find its way into popular culture via Hollywood celebrities and questionable commercial enterprises. Nor does kol nidrei concern transgressions committed against human beings, for which only forgiveness by injured parties can provide atonement (see in Mishna Yoma: VIII). Despite the wealth of Schoenberg scholarship in the second half of the 20th century, uncertainty lingers about whether that premiere was performed with orchestra or whether Schoenberg and Rabbi Sonderling had to settle for the piano reduction that the composer’s assistant, Leonard Stein, had made (which would have been used in any event for choral preparation and rehearsals). At play here were theological convictions and conceptions with which he wrestled, and also perhaps some of his own idiosyncratic Jewish national-political issues and positions (Zionist as well as non- or extra-Zionist)—all of which might, consciously or unconsciously, have been intertwined in his conception of the work. Learn how and when to remove this template message, Background information on Bruch's arrangement of Kol Nidre and discussion on the Jewishness of its character, International Music Score Library Project, Concerto for Clarinet, Viola, and Orchestra in E minor, Op.

He was won over by Zionism in principle and committed to its nationalist cause—eventually taking pride in the accomplishment of statehood and giving the new polity his allegiance. Some of these rabbis continued to search for suitable alternatives that would preserve the musical element within an artistically sophisticated context while providing fresh theological interpretations consistent with modern American perspectives. The first, heard at the outset, originates from the traditional Jewish service on the night of Yom Kippur; the second is an extract from a musical setting of the Byron poem ‘Those that Wept on Babel’s stream’.A common misconception about Bruch is that he was a Jewish composer. When that Psalm phrase reoccurs as a bridge from the section based on bishiva shel ma’ala to the reinvented and reworked kol nidrei, light becomes extended in the composer’s interpretation to relate directly to repentance: “A light is sown for the repenting sinner.” And when that new twist is echoed in the penultimate line of the narration, it is the final recapitulation that reemphasizes the leave now granted to the transgressor to “be one with us in prayer tonight.”. Yet pehaps it might more fairly be credited to both as a joint effort. There are conflicting references, but none are definitive. Sam Pittis Indeed, as early as the post-talmudic period of the 6th to11th centuries, some ge’onim (heads of the academies during that time frame) questioned it on the grounds that it might be misunderstood in terms of ethical principles. His full attention was given to the Lord. SHARE.

The music deeply touched my heart. It was an ideal that he advocated vehemently in his extramusical writings and statements. The exclusive Ashkenazi musical version of kol nidrei belongs to the misinai tune tradition. Bruch was a Protestant[1]:109 and first became acquainted with the Kol Nidrei melody when his teacher Ferdinand Hiller introduced him to the Lichtenstein family, the head of which served as the cantor-in-chief of Berlin. The music deeply touched my heart. A light is sown for the sinner. Bearing in mind his near obsession with totality, and viewed in the context of his extramusical writings, the unspecified array of those false doctrines may be understood as encompassing not only religious belief systems and artistic-intellectual pretensions that he renounced but also all political sympathies and positions contrary to those he espoused as true and correct. It once again demands a United Jewish Party, in which democracy must give way to enforced solidarity (“The decision over the fate of a nation seems to be much too important a question to submit to a majority”), and it condemns the democratic structure of the Zionist movement and its congresses. Kol Nidrei, his warm and richly evocative work for cello and orchestra, was one of the first pieces he set about composing when he took up his post as Principal Conductor of the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. As radical a departure as it is, his narration may be viewed on one level as a restoration of kol nidrei’s legitimacy and moral relevance.

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