Yiddish Art Songs by Israeli-Born Composers, by Laya Harbater Silber

Laya Harbater Silber

Yiddish Art Songs By Israeli-Born Composers: A New Stylistic Interpretation

Israelis who compose Yiddish art  music do not do so  in order to pay tribute to a lost culture, nor to perpetuate the memory of the dying Yiddish folksong tradition. They rather compose it in order to generate a vibrant, contemporary interpretation of the Yiddish language, unburdened by the long history of the Jewish Diaspora.  This paper examines how this relatively new and possibly short-lived phenomenon emerged in Israel in the late 1960s, as a consequence of underlying political, social and aesthetic factors. It will further provide  examples from  works by three highly individual, Israeli-born composers, who composed Yiddish music  since the 1980s. A brief historical introduction to the Yiddish language, as well as to its literature and music, is first drawn, in order to clarify the various conflicting aesthetic attitudes that eventually led to the emergence of the Yiddish Art Song in Israel.