Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Remembering Another Side of Charles Krauthammer: Bringing Jewish Music to the Concert Hall


Most of the obituaries and news reports about Charles Krauthammer, the Pulitzer Prize winning conservative political columnist who died last Thursday, focused on his political commentary and his love for baseball and chess. 

What they didn't write about was the great love that this outspoken supporter of Israel had for classical Jewish music. Together with his wife Robyn, an Australian convert to Judaism, they founded Pro Musica Hebraica in 2008, a project to revive forgotten Jewish classical music from a century ago.

Pro Musica Hebraica’s first concert (on April 10, 2008) featured musicians from the Juilliard School and Itzhak Perlman as a special guest. It celebrated the centenary of the 1908 Society for Jewish Folk Music in St. Petersburg, a group of self-defined Jewish composers from Russia and the first association devoted to Jewish musical traditions. 

Responding to the challenge of European nationalism, the St. Petersburg Society “gave rise to what would become known as Jewish art music—music that deliberately melded Western and Russian classical music with Hasidic melodies, Yiddish folk songs and synagogue chants, capturing the sounds of the towns and villages of the Pale of Settlement.” 

As Charles Krauthammer explained, “It's music that's either consciously or unconsciously drawn from the folk, the klezmer, the liturgical, the shtetl,” and reinterpreted in the spirit of “modern classical sensibility.” 

Here is an excerpt from a Pro Musica Hebraica concert a few years ago to focus on the role of the clarinet in Jewish music.

Enjoy!

A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.