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The Organ and its Music in German-Jewish Culture$
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Tina Fruhauf

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195337068

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195337068.001.0001

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Sharing the Console

Sharing the Console

The Synagogue Organist

(p.89) intermezzo Sharing the Console
The Organ and its Music in German-Jewish Culture

Tina Frühauf

Oxford University Press

While the issue concerning the introduction of organs into Jewish worship services eventually faded, debates over whether organs could be played during Sabbath and holy days and whether Jewish or non-Jewish musicians should be allowed to play them on these days continued well into the twentieth century. Prior to the Second Rabbinical Conference of Frankfurt in 1845, Christian musicians were allowed to play the organ during Jewish liturgy. However, even after rabbis at the conference explicitly recommended that a Jewish musician play the organ, a consistent and enforceable solution remained an issue. Each congregation independently decided whether it wanted to hire an organist of Jewish or Christian faith. The lack of Jewish musicians trained in organ music left many Jewish congregations with no choice but to hire church musicians. In the early nineteenth century, state-supervised training of synagogue organists of Jewish origin started in Germany and other parts of Western Europe and, by the turn of the century, various synagogues had trained organists in place. Synagogue organists, however, continued to perform non-Jewish repertoire as a result of the early practice of hiring church musicians and the lack of Jewish-inspired organ works until the early twentieth century, when composers began writing music based on Jewish liturgical, paraliturgical, and folkloristic–traditional melodies that are distinct from Christian models.

Keywords:   synagogue organists, church musicians, organ playing, halakhah, Sabbath, mitzvah, Jewish traditions

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