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Jewish Organ Music


MusingMuso
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Although we usually associate the organ with Christian churches and music, I think it would be fair to suggest that this was not always the case, since the instrument eventually wandered East after the fall of the Roman Empire. Furthmore, with the growth of "western" music in countries such as China, Japan, Korea and even predominantly Muslim areas of the former USSR, the organ plays a significant part.

 

However, throughout my own lifetime as an organist, I have always been aware of the Jewish alternative, and as a fourteen year old, I knew a lady who was the long serving organist of a Jewish Synagogue. Later on, I would sometimes visit the same synagogue to play the organ. I was also aware that the late Caleb Jarvis, as Civic Organist of Liverpool, was Jewish.

 

Go to Hungary, and the Jewish organ-tradition appears to be quite strong, and organ recitals in the main synagogue of Budapest, are not at all uncommon.

 

However, the "head office" of Israel would not, one might think, yield anything of great significance.

 

Thus, when I stumbled across the music of Roman Krasnovsky, I was astonished.

 

Here is a living recitalist and composer from the Ukraine, who now resides in Israel.

 

The following links are very interesting, and if the sample mp3's are anything to go by, this is someone who actually knows how to compose for the organ. (For some strange reason, I found myself reminded of Peter Racine Fricker, who trotted off to America).

 

http://www.organfocus.com/members/krasnovsky/

 

http://www.organfocus.com/members/krasnovsky/israel.php3

 

http://www.musicmakers-online.com/M-00004

 

 

MM

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I was also aware that the late Caleb Jarvis, as Civic Organist of Liverpool, was Jewish.

MM

 

In 2004, I was involved in a project to replace this

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N04318

 

 

with this

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N10819

 

(NB: I am absolutely not at liberty to discuss why the venture failed. As far as I am aware, the FHW remains in the building, still in a derelict state. However, board members living/working in Liverpool may know more).

 

According to the churchwarden of St Dunstan’s, Caleb Jarvis was their organist for many years. I understand that it was/is not uncommon for Reformed synagogues to employ Christian musicians, but this could perhaps be a unique example of a Jewish organist serving a Christian congregation.

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According to the churchwarden of St Dunstan’s, Caleb Jarvis was their organist for many years. I understand that it was/is not uncommon for Reformed synagogues to employ Christian musicians, but this could perhaps be a unique example of a Jewish organist serving a Christian congregation.

When I was at Oxford in the late 1970s I heard a story (that seemed far-fetched then and even more incredible now) about Exeter College appointing a Jewish organ scholar who was unable to take up his position on account of his religious views.

 

Is it worth pointing out that orthodox Judaism generally doesn't permit organs in synagogue worship? If there is an organ in a synagogue it probably means Reform or Liberal Judaism. I have been to Jewish weddings in orthodox synagogues that have featured electronic keyboard and traditional klezmer musicians though.

 

I've played some music by a C16 composer called Rossi, who I believe was Jewish.

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In 2004, I was involved in a project to replace this

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N04318

with this

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N10819

 

(NB: I am absolutely not at liberty to discuss why the venture failed. As far as I am aware, the FHW remains in the building, still in a derelict state. However, board members living/working in Liverpool may know more).

 

According to the churchwarden of St Dunstan’s, Caleb Jarvis was their organist for many years. I understand that it was/is not uncommon for Reformed synagogues to employ Christian musicians, but this could perhaps be a unique example of a Jewish organist serving a Christian congregation.

 

 

============================

 

 

I stumbled across this article on the net, which may not explain everything, but which undoubtedly explains why there are so many excellent Jewish lawyers!

 

http://www.bethyeshurun.org/organ.htm

 

MM

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When I was at Oxford in the late 1970s I heard a story (that seemed far-fetched then and even more incredible now) about Exeter College appointing a Jewish organ scholar who was unable to take up his position on account of his religious views.

It wasn't his religion that was the problem but inexperience (perhaps understandable).

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I did hear of a Zoroastrian organ scholar, possibly in one of the Scottish universities....

 

Peter

 

 

=============================

 

 

That's a bit creepy, but so are most religions.

 

Any religious person will tell you that there's only one true way, whether that way be Confusionism, B-hai, Judaic, Christian, Hunduism, Daoism, Islamic etc etc.

 

There is only one unversal belief....belief in nothing. This has the immediate effect of uniting all others, who then turn on you, read your future and point fingers of scorn.

 

Oh well! Have a nice day.....infidels.

 

MM

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I met a Jewish chap here in the USA back in 1993 - he was as yet too young to be inducted into the armed forces back during WWII, but old enough (and good enough) to play as a substitute organist for services in one of the cathedrals in England... can't remember if it was Durham, Norwich or what...

 

He and I had quite a nice time exchanging stories, and he and his wife even came to hear me play one Sunday... we lost touch after a few years, but I was always fascinated by his tales.

 

- G

 

 

According to the churchwarden of St Dunstan’s, Caleb Jarvis was their organist for many years. I understand that it was/is not uncommon for Reformed synagogues to employ Christian musicians, but this could perhaps be a unique example of a Jewish organist serving a Christian congregation.
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Guest Barry Williams
I did hear of a Zoroastrian organ scholar, possibly in one of the Scottish universities....

 

Peter

 

And there is one very capable recitalist who wears unusual rings that some think have odd religious connotations.

 

Barry Williams

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=============================

That's a bit creepy, but so are most religions.

 

Any religious person will tell you that there's only one true way, whether that way be Confusionism, B-hai, Judaic, Christian, Hunduism, Daoism, Islamic etc etc.

 

There is only one unversal belief....belief in nothing. This has the immediate effect of uniting all others, who then turn on you, read your future and point fingers of scorn.

 

Oh well! Have a nice day.....infidels.

 

MM

 

 

I meant to ask earlier, MM - why is it "creepy" that a Zoroastrian should be an organ scholar (if indeed my info is correct)? After all, the conductor Zubin Mehta is a Zoroastrian, as was Sorabji (whose organ symphony Kevin Bowyer has, I think, recorded) and indeed the late Freddy Mercury of Queen (or Farouk Balsura as he was originally named).

 

Regards

 

Peter

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I meant to ask earlier, MM - why is it "creepy" that a Zoroastrian should be an organ scholar (if indeed my info is correct)? After all, the conductor Zubin Mehta is a Zoroastrian, as was Sorabji (whose organ symphony Kevin Bowyer has, I think, recorded) and indeed the late Freddy Mercury of Queen (or Farouk Balsura as he was originally named).

 

Regards

 

Peter

 

===============================

 

 

I can go along with Zoroastrianism to a considerable extent, as indeed I can with Buddhism, but where the former falls down, for me, is in the creation of a convenient dualism of good and evil. I would also dispute anything to do with hell and duelling personality cults involved in the eternal struggle between good and evil.

 

Christianity at least enjoys the luxury of spiritual complexity, and the quite healthy and normal co-existence of good and bad within each of us.

 

With psychology as a subject of abiding interest to me, I always quite like to idea of life flowing, and individuals seeking harmony as they adapt and change throughout life.

 

There are so many things which I cannot reconcile with any of the world's religions, and it is on that basis that I find belief in any single religion difficult.

 

Perhaps the word "creepy" was not a good choice. The word perplexing is perhaps what I really meant.

 

MM

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===============================

I can go along with Zoroastrianism to a considerable extent, as indeed I can with Buddhism, but where the former falls down, for me, is in the creation of a convenient dualism of good and evil. I would also dispute anything to do with hell and duelling personality cults involved in the eternal struggle between good and evil.

 

Christianity at least enjoys the luxury of spiritual complexity, and the quite healthy and normal co-existence of good and bad within each of us.

 

With psychology as a subject of abiding interest to me, I always quite like to idea of life flowing, and individuals seeking harmony as they adapt and change throughout life.

 

There are so many things which I cannot reconcile with any of the world's religions, and it is on that basis that I find belief in any single religion difficult.

 

Perhaps the word "creepy" was not a good choice. The word perplexing is perhaps what I really meant.

 

MM

 

Most Zoroastrians would deny that their faith is dualistic in that sense - rather that it is an ethical dualism operating within an overall context of eschatological monotheism. As to the Zoroastrian version of "hell" (The house of lies) this is now seen as a temporary place; at the eschaton all will be admitted to "paradise", those requiring it after some purification. MM, PM me if you need any more info! This has nothing to do with the organ, by the way, so apologies to all who find this irksome!

 

Peter

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