Oz Almog - Walls of Sound. Jewish Worlds of Music

Oz Almog - Walls of Sound. Jewish Worlds of Music

When listening to "God bless America", "The Christmas Song", "Edelweiss", "Katyusha", "The Blue Danube", "Hello, Dolly", "My Funny Valentine" or the US Marines' anthem ... very few would think that this is actually a part of Jewish heritage. Or, that some of the finest Afro-American gospels are of George Gershwin. Oz Almog, an Israeli-Austrian painter, takes us behind the "Walls of Sound" to explore the significance of Jews in the world of music through a rich gallery of personalities composed around the artist's vision of Jubal, the one who was called upon to bring music to mankind and "the father of all such as handle the harp and pipe" (Genesis 4:21).

In the last of the instructions given to Moses, God commands to his earthly messenger: "... write ye this song for you, and teach thou it the children of Israel; put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for Me against the children of Israel". (Deuteronomy 31:19)

Since then, and to this day, music has been the pulse of Jewish spirituality and the map to the gates of Heaven. One doesn't simply "read" the Torah - it is chanted in daily portions and each sacred text has its own melody, different for each part of the day or period of the year. This centrality of music, combined with the early literacy of the Jewish people, makes them pioneers in three facets of music: instrumentation, modality and notation.

No wonder then that such a strong tradition has a deep, lasting and global impact. Many scholars agree that both Byzantine ecclesiastical chant in the East and the pre-Gregorian chant in the West (and Western classical music as an outgrowth thereof), are derived from that of the Syrian and Palestinian Church, which in turn had inherited that tradition from the Hebraic musical modality of the synagogue.

In the last two centuries since Jewish music walked out or was exiled from the Ghetto, Jews have played a major role in music as virtuoso performers, conductors, composers, librettists and music industry executives. Oz Almog summoned here some of those wandering children of Jubal to witness it for us in front of "Walls of Sound".  

Coordinator: Andreas Sperlich