Traditional concepts of Jewish music locate it in the past, be it in the sacred traditions of the Temples in Jerusalem or in the isolated traditions of the Diaspora, in which Jews supposedly developed their music without influences from surrounding communities and cultures. By locating Jewish music in the past, however, the more complex realities of modern history may be negated, making it difficult to understand with depth the emergence of Jewish art music and popular music, or even generating conditions that make it hard to acknowledge the creativity of the most tragic moments in Jewish history, such as the Holocaust. In this article, the author asks that we listen to many different and multi-layered modern moments in Jewish music history, from the development of a modern professionalism among synagogue cantors in the nineteenth century to the publication of art song and the performance of cabaret in the cosmopolitan centers of Jewish Europe in the twentieth century. Although the article addresses Jewish music and modernity in many places in modern Europe, moments of special relevance to Polish Jewish history enter its discourse, suggesting new avenues and approaches to which Polish scholars could make very important contributions.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.