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Jewish Music and Modernity$
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Philip Bohlman

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195178326

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195178326.001.0001

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Jewish Music and Modernity

Philip V. Bohlman (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The cultural and historical tensions between East and West are among the most complex forces in Jewish history. Jewish music has historically embodied this tension, and it is one of the ways in which modernity emerges as a quality of Jewish music. In the synagogue, prayer and song are directed toward the altar at the eastern end of the sanctuary. Several styles and repertories of modern popular music in Israel are designated as musica mizrahit, literally “eastern music.” In modern Europe East and West also formed along a cultural fault line between Jews speaking Yiddish as a vernacular language in Eastern Europe and Jews speaking other vernaculars in Central Europe, especially German. As Jewish musicians increasingly entered the domains of popular and entertainment music in the late nineteenth century, East and West came to represent two different, even contested, identities in the Diaspora.

Keywords:   Diaspora, East, Jewish history, musica mizrahit, popular music, synagogue, vernacular, West, Yiddish

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