Arnold Schönberg’s Jewish musical work

A radio program from the European Institute of Jewish Music hosted by Hervé Roten


Arnold Schönberg’s (1874–1951) relation to Judaism is quite complex. He converted to Protestantism in 1898, and will feel the rise of antisemitism in 1921. A few years later, the writing of his drama The Biblical Way (Das Biblische Weg, 1927) shows his attachment – or at least his interest – for his Jewish origins. Considered by the Nazis as the symbol of degenerated art, he left into exile in Paris, and came back to the Jewish religion, before emigrating to the United States.

In 1938, on the request of a rabbi from Los Angeles, he wrote a music for the Kol Nidre. During the war, he tried deseperately to save the Jews from Europe. In 1947, following the visit of a survivor of the Warsaw ghetto, he wrote Le survivant de Varsovie. In 1948, the creation of the state of Israel aroused in Schönberg a deep enthusiasm. He then started to write a piece on the Psalm 130 « De Profundis » (1950) followed by a serie of 16 modern psalms with a philosophic content expressing “the religious problems of our contemporaries. Because of his death, this work would stay unfinished. Just like his opera Moses und Aaron, and the oratorio Jacob’s ladder, to which he worked from 1915 to 1944 without stopping.

Danielle Cohen-Levinas, teacher of philosophy and musicology will help us discover Schönberg’s work during the whole radio program.

We will hear in particuliar many musical excerpts from his various works.

herve_photo_retouche_fond_uni_bleu_500px.jpgOfficer of the Ordre of Arts and letters, PhD in musicology at Paris University Sorbonne, prize-winning graduate from the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris, Hervé Roten is the director of the European Institute of Jewish Music since its creation in 2006.
Ethnomusicologist, he quickly developed an interest in the safeguard and digitization of archives, subjects he taught for several years in Reims and Marne-La-Vallée universities.
Author of many articles, books and recordings related to Jewish music, producer of radio programs, Hervé Roten is recognized today as one of the best specialists of Jewish music in the world.

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