These archives represent today the most important holding of Ashkenazi liturgical music in France.
Kept in precarious conditions, these archives almost disappeared at the end of August 2011 when a big fire spread on the 4th floor of the synagogue. Fortunately the firemen arrived quickly and extinguished the fire that was contained less than 50cm from the room where were stored the musical archives.
The Synagogue’s website details that :
« These archives have two centuries of musical history of the Consistory and the synagogue :
• two centuries of music scores composed or adapted specially for the big moments of the synagogal service,
• two centuries of music scores often annotated by the composers of the Music Directors of the time,
• two centuries of musical programs of the main events and ceremonies organized in the synagogue for its inauguration, for the enthronement of great Rabbis, official ceremonies and even recently performed concerts.
So we decided to protect this treasure and deposit it to specialists, the European Institute for Jewish Music, that have secured premises and performing tools for filing, digitalizing and archiving. »
Reached by the President and vice-President of the synagogue, Jacques Canet and Félix Loeb, the European Institute for Jewish Music set up a project to save these archives and make available for the public. This project is born thanks to the Foundation for French Judaism, Yuval, the Regional Direction for Cultural Affairs of Paris region, the Alain de Rothschild Institute, the Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah, and the Halphen family.
In a first instance, the inventory of the archives has been done at the synagogue by a young and talented German musicologist, Martha Stellmacher, as part of the European program called Leonardo. After a short time of training in September 2011, Martha Stellmacher began under the supervision of Hervé Roten, the inventory, the first cleaning and pre-cataloging of the music holdings.
In a second part, an operation scanner digitalized around 90.000 pages of this holding. This digitalizing work was preceded by musicological research in order to reconstitute or to find the missing pages of certain scores.
In a third and last part, the online cataloging of the documents has been done by Yaffa Ellenberger and Rosette Azoulay.
Initially planned to last 24 months, this saving project of the musical archives
from the Great Synagogue de La Victoire required 5 years of intensive work which allows today to have access to 2.300 music scores, registers, musical programs... through the RACHEL catalogue. In particular, there are manuscript scores with autographs of great composers such as Fernand Halphen (dedication to the Great Rabbi Zadoc-Kahn), Henry Deutsch de la Meurthe, Léon Algazi, Vladimir Dick, etc.
These archives give an accurate overview of the evolution of the French synagogal cult from its emancipation of 1790-91 to the creation of consistories in 1806-1808.