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UM Frankel Center Event: Jascha Nemstov
March 26 4:00 pm - 5:30 pmFree
Influence of Biblical Cantillations on Art Music in the 20th and 21st Centuries
Jascha Nemtsov, pianist and musicologist
The oldest part of Jewish music culture is the ritualized presentation of texts from the Hebrew Bible (tanakh) organized through a complex and highly diversified system of strict musical rules and distinct motifs (cantillations). This system was essentially created during the Biblical times; it was then passed on orally for several centuries and codified in the 9th century with special signs (teamim). Since the beginning of the 20th century, the motifs of biblical cantillations have been perceived by Jewish composers as the “most authentic” part of the Jewish musical tradition and used as a source of inspiration and “building material” in many works. As a rule, in this context the motifs of cantillation lost their connection to the liturgy and their direct relation to the text and were merely identified as the musical embodiment of the Jewishness. By their archaic character and their shortness of breath they also significantly influenced the musical style of the new Jewish art music.