The musical heritage of Jewish communities in Europe is the heart of the online database "Soundscape Synagogue" set up at the European Centre for Jewish Music at Hanover University for Music, Drama and Media.
The chant of Jewish prayer, traditionally passed down orally and lead by a prayer leader or cantor, has always been exposed to a multitude of influences like the surrounding cultures, intra-Jewish religious movements or historical changes. Thus, sacred Jewish music is a mirror of the Jewish environment with all its tensions and conflicts between tradition and modernity, orthodoxy and reform, religion and ethnicity.
Due to the aftermath of the Holocaust, migration movements or state oppression of religion (e.g. in the countries of the former "Eastern Bloc") it has been difficult for many communities to draw on their musical heritage. "Soundscape Synagogue" will be an instrument to trace this heritage, to depict the living tradition in the musical life of Jewish communities and to increase awareness of sacred Jewish music in the public consciousness. The database will enable users to find, for example, biographical data of cantors, outlines of individual intellectual and artistic works, information on traditions of Jewish liturgical music, as well as recordings, photographs and sheet music.
Designed for a broad target group, the database not only invites, for example, Jewish communities but also musicians to resuscitate the music samples saved in the knowledge base by putting them into practice again. Furthermore, the biographical data will provide a rich basis for academic research, including an abundance of topics to support the research of students and scholars from numerous disciplines. More broadly, the inclusion of musical components will enable everybody, including school classes and young people in general, to discover Jewish history and Jewish life. By collecting, documenting, and sharing knowledge on synagogal music in all its manifestations, a dialogue between academic researchers and practitioners of Jewish music can be established, which, in turn, will bring about an informed public awareness on the topic.
In order to be able to offer as much information, documents and items as possible, the EZJM needs your help. Do you possess tangible or intangible testimonies of liturgical Jewish music / synagogue music or in respect to cantors that you would like to place at our disposal? This includes, for example:
- Sheet music
- Newspaper articles
- (historical) audio recordings
- Personal memories: do you remember melodies that were sung in your community in bygone days, or do you have recollections of a cantor in your community? We would be very happy if you were willing to share these memories with us.
Or do you have information regarding other people or places who we could contact?
If so, we would be very grateful if you could get into contact with us.