Treasures of Yiddish archives (part 1)

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


In the beginning of the 20th century, Jewish musicians and researchers, in search of a national music, became interested in their musical traditions. As soon as 1900, Joel Engel (1868-1927) started noting and performing live folkloric Jewish songs. This movement attracted many young Jewish musicians, and led to the creation in 1908 of the “Society for Jewish Folk Music” in St-Petersburg.

Between 1911 and 1914, the “Jewish Historical and Ethnographical Society” – also founded in St-Petersburg in 1908 – organized the ethnographic expedition of Baron Ginzburg, under the direction of Sh. An-Ski (1863-1920). Joel Engel participated actively in this collecting which led to the recording of around 500 cylinders containing approximately a thousand songs. After the dissolution of the “Jewish Historical and Ethnographical Society” in 1929, this collection was given to Moisei Iakovlevich Beregovski (1892-1961), director and co-founder of the “Cabinet” of Jewish music in the Science Academy in Ukraine. In 1949, Beregovski was deported by Soviet authorities, and his collection, that counted over 1200 cylinders, would fall into oblivion, until its rediscovery in Kiev in the 1980’s.

In North America, many recordings were also made after the war with old immigrant Jews, native of Eastern Europe. This is how collectors – in particular the pioneer folklorist Ruth Rubin – built important Yiddish archive collections.

These archive collections form today an invaluable treasure for all researchears. The artists also look in there for inspiration to create new Yiddish music, new indeed, but attached to the past by this delicate link that are the thousands of hours of recordings saved from Nazi barbarism and Stalinism.

During this broadcast, Eléonore Biezunski, violinist, singer, archivist and historian of music, will make us discover music treasures from the main Yiddish archive holdings.

A journey through time to better learn, in a second part (broadcasted on February 10, 2015) the work of contemporary artists from these archives.

emission_de_radio_55_.jpgListen to the second part of Treasures of Yiddish archives

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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