Biblical Music in the Milken Archive

Biblical Music in the Milken Archive November 28, 2019

I love the Milken Archive. So much Jewish music has been made available, promoted, highlighted, more widely distributed, studied, and otherwise enhanced as far as connection with audiences of listeners is concerned.

It was music by Lucas Foss that led me to draft this post. But other things worth mentioning from that site and their email newsletter kept coming my way, and so I’ll share some of those as well below. But first, a brief snippet from the post about Foss and Bernstein:

Foss and Bernstein also exhibited different relationships to Judaism and Jewish identity. For Bernstein, these shaped a world view and critical perspective that he brought to bear on much of his work. He wore his Jewishness on his sleeve and allowed it to be a guiding force in his life. Foss never dwelled much on his Jewishness. (Indeed, the annual Foss family Christmas party was the place to be and be seen). But he did make an interesting observation in a 1998 interview with the Milken Archive:

“I think all my music is Jewish, whether I realize it or not. . . . I have an identity there that I think comes to the fore, whether I want it or not.”

They also marked the 50th anniversary of Dave Brubeck’s The Gates of Justice. Their newsletter said:

The Gates of Justice origins date to 1968, when Brubeck was approached by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations to help provide a musical solution to a social problem. The UAHC, led by Rabbi Charles H. Mintz, was concerned about a growing divide between the Jewish and African American communities in the waning years of the civil rights movement. Though the two groups had frequently demonstrated and fought together, their relations in the wake of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination had become strained, sometimes to the point of violence. Mintz and Brubeck first met through the Cincinnati Ecumenical Council, which had sponsored a concert of Brubeck’s oratorio, The Light in the Wilderness, earlier that same year. Mintz attended the performance and perceived an opportunity for Brubeck to compose a piece of music that could help bring the Jewish and African American communities back together.

In it they also shared an oral history of the collaboration of Dave and Iola Brubeck on this project. Check out more of their oral histories collection!

Here are some other things of interest from the Milken Archive:

Marvin David Levy, Lifelong Apprentice

Symphonic Music of Jewish Experience

101 Memories of Leonard Bernstein

Robert Starer

Were you already familiar with the Milken Archive? If not, I’m glad I had the opportunity to share this with you. Once you explore it, please do come back here to share what you found that was particularly interesting and/or enjoyable!

Of related interest, the Composers’ Datebook is another great source to explore and follow.




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