Polka Hanouka

A musical score by Isaac Strauss (1806-1888)

by Laure Schnapper

Isaac Strauss, a famous composer during the Second Empire, was born on June 2, 1806 into a Jewish family in Strasbourg. Among his works, consisting of numerous dances, is an astonishing polka entitled Hanukkah.


rachel_dans_le_cid_role_de_chimene_reduit60.jpgThis music score, entitled Hanouka, was composed by Isaac Strauss around 1851.
It is dedicated to Mademoiselle Rachel (1821-1858), a famous actress of the 19th century, who brought back to fashion classical tragedy, as opposed to romantic drama. Mademoiselle Rachel – her real name was Élisabeth-Rachel Félix – created a new model of actress and woman, among whom would later inspire Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) was later on inspired by.

Published in Paris, this sheet music of 7 pages was intended for a small ensemble (piano, cornet, violin and doublebass). It is a polka – a quite rapid double-metre dance music, in fashion during the 19th century – in which the main theme would feature the melody of the emblematic prayer of Chanukah : Maoz tsur.

Watch an excerpt of the polka Hanouka by Isaac Strauss performed by the Orchestre Eugénie (distribution: piano, violin, cornet, doublebass)

Listen to Laure Schnapper’s radio program on Isaac Strauss

Read Isaac Strauss’ biography

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