Judeo-French music from the 18th and 19th century

From the collection MUSICAL HERITAGE OF THE JEWS FROM FRANCE, vol 2


In the 18th century, the Jewish people are gathered in three major spots: the Comtat Venaissin, the South West of France and Alsace-Lorraine region. The musical practices are then mainly coming from oral tradition.

The reform of the Consistory at the beginning of the 19th century will bring great changes to the musical practices in the synagogues: music will be written, chorus will be created, and instrumental accompaniment will become widespread. But the 2nd World War and the demographic upheavals of the 20th century will make decline these three traditions. They are nevertheless original musical traditions. The Comtadin music, which has been forgotten today, presents the old-fashioned charm of Provençal music from the 18th century. Religious poems are in Provençal language, sometimes mixed with Hebrew or Aramaic.

The traditions from Bordeaux and Bayonne resembles those of the ancient Portuguese Nation from South West of France that had a complicated fate. Music from various origins are mixed in, from antique biblical cantillations to harmonized arrangements of the 19th century, passing by the soft Andalusian melodies of Medieval Spain.

Finally, in the music from the Consistory, the use of the organ, the beauty of the mixed chorus and the care brought to the arrangements reveal a cult that wishes to integrate the aesthetic styles of the time and at the same time, to be open to modernity.
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