Stories of Music
Unit 2

How has Western Art Music Influenced Synagogue Worship?
How has Western Art Music Influenced Synagogue Worship?

Since the Renaissance, Jews have risen to prominence in art music.  This lesson explores the intersection of Western Art Music and Jewish music, and the influence it has had on the sound of synagogue worship. Through this class, the learner will understand that:

  • Music of the synagogue reflects the intersection where our Jewish identity and our experience as members of American society come together.
  • Jewish identity is fluid, reflecting an ongoing negotiation between the Jewish community and the surrounding host culture.
  • How we define ourselves both as Jews and as members of the host culture influences the “sound” of the synagogue.
Key Musical Influencers
Key Musical Influencers

Learners will be exposed to the music of Salomon Rossi, who brought the influence of Baroque music into the synagogue; Solomon Sulzer’s, whose compositions are reminiscent of the music of 19th century Vienna; and, the 20th century composers Ernest Bloch, Isidore Freed, and Charles Davidson who bring new and different musical sensibilities.

And they’ll explore questions such as these:

  • What are some of the common social/historical themes that are critical to moments of integration of art music into the synagogue?
  • What makes the art music of the surrounding culture feel appropriate for the synagogue?
  • How might synagogue music influence the development of one’s Jewish identity?