Serge Kaufmann – a composer in search of his roots

A radio broadcast of the European Instutute for Jewish Music, hosted by Hervé Roten


On the occasion of the release of 20 Serge Kaufmann, editd by the EIJM, this program pays tribute to this composer.

Radio and TV figure, Serge Kaufmann holds a special place in the musical environment. Born in Switzerland in 1930, of a Protestant mother and a Jewish father, Serge Kaufmann settles in France after the war where he starts a brilliant radio and TV carrier, of which he will write over 150 pieces of music for films or documentaries.

But one day, a simple photography – The little boy from the Warsaw Ghetto – will completely his certainties into a deep questioning : « What would have happened if I was born on the other side of the border ? Would I also have shared the fate of these thousands of children who didn’t have the chance to grow up... just because they were born with Jewish parents or grand-parents ! ».

Driven by this revelation, Serge Kaufmann starts creating a real Jewish work by writing pieces with suggestive names : Suite Yiddish, Memorah, Matsevah, Selah, Yesod… And his compositions, although never built on traditional melodies - sound clearly Jewish !

According to Alain Duault, Serge Kaufmann is not only « a composer, but a Jewish composer offering us (…) shreds of a shattered memory of which he feels being a bearer – like if these pages rolled up to become anther Torah scroll, a symbolic one, the one where an unnamed God, talking in a luminous way, allows him to be heard at night. »

Purchase Serge Kaufmann’s music scores, edited by the EIJM.
Purchase the CD Ima ou la mère dépossédée de Serge Kaufmann.

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Look at Serge Kaufmann’s website.

Officer 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 for 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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  • Serge Kaufmann - un compositeur en quête de ses racines - Hervé Roten (Judaïques FM 94.8)

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