Amnon Shiloah, one of the world’s foremost authorities on Jewish music passed away in Jerusalem on Jul 11 2014 at the age of 85.
A long-time professor of musicology at Hebrew
University, Amnon Shiloah was an internationally respected and widely published
authority on Arabic and Middle Eastern Jewish musical traditions, a
scholar who did both ethnomusicological fieldwork and traditional
historical research. Prof. Shiloah was a prolific author of books and
articles, and editor of records; He did an immense amount of groundbreaking fieldwork. His most valuable work may be his large
bibliographic compendium and his magnum opus “The Theory of Music in
Arabic Writings ca.900-1900” published by RILM in 1979.
Other works include: The Musical Tradition of Iraqi Jews,Music Subjects in the Zohar, Text and Indices, Jewish Musical Traditions, The Dimension of Music in Islamic and Jewish Culture, Music in the World of Islam: A Socio-cultural Study.
Here’s what Ronit Seter wrote for the Encyclopedia Judaica article and which also appears on his entry for the Jewish Music Research Centre in Jerusalem:
Born in Argentina to a Syrian family, Shiloah settled in Palestine in 1941. He studied Arabic language and literature at the HebrewUniversity and musicology at the Sorbonne, where he obtained his doctorate in 1963. Shiloah was appointed senior lecturer at the HebrewUniversity musicology department in 1969 and was its chairman in the years 1971–74. He became full professor in 1978 and emeritus in 1996. He served as a board member of the International Musicological Society (1977–81), and won the Jerusalem Prize for research achievements in the study of Oriental Jewish music (1986). Shiloah was also appointed provost of the RothbergSchool for overseas students (1992–95), and an honorary member for life at the European Seminar in Ethnomusicology (1995). He won the Grand prix de l’Academie Charles Cros: Litterature musicale for the French translation of his book Music in the World of Islam. Shiloah is one of the most prolific scholars of both Jewish and Arab traditional musics. Shiloah began his career as a musicologist of Israeli art music in the early 1950s, when he published interviews with thirteen founding Israeli composers about national identity in their music (published in Massa, 1953). Although the field of contemporary music has not been his main focus, his Massa interviews have often been cited as a pioneer work, and his contribution to Israel Music Institute News (1990) is an influential contribution to the study of Orientalism in Israeli art music. Shiloah’s magnum opus, The Theory of Music in Arabic Writings (c. 900–1900) (Répertoire international des sources musicales, Henle Verlag, Munich, series B/X, 1979 – a catalogue of manuscripts in libraries of Europe and the U.S.), was the culmination of years of work in European archives. The recent volumeof this seminal text (RISM, series B/Xa, 2003, describing manuscripts in Israel, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Russia, and Uzbekistan) was similarly a result of another decade of research. His work was published in the Encyclopedia Judaica (1971), Encyclopedia Britannica (1974), Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart (1976, 1994), the Journal of the American Musicological Society (1981) and The New Oxford History of Music (2001) – to cite a few among many publications (e.g., in Cahiers de civilisation medievale, Ethnomusicology, Ariel, Acta Musicologica, Pe’amim, Dukhan, and Yuval). His scholarship on Jewish music was summarized in his Jewish Musical Traditions (Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1992). Shiloah’s work on Arab music culminated also in his Music in the World of Islam: A Socio-Cultural Study (London, 1995; the book also appeared in French, Hebrew and Arabic). Notwithstanding his groundbreaking research, Shiloah did not gain wide recognition in the Arab world for political reasons – as he was both a Jewish and an Israeli scholar; similarly, he has been underappreciated in Israel, because most Israeli musicologists had little knowledge of Arab music, and even less understanding of the history of its music theory. In the field of ethnomusicology in Europe and America, however, he has been established as both a pioneer scholar and a leading authority of Arab music and of Jewish traditional music. Shiloah’s comprehensive list of publications encompasses over two hundred and forty items in four languages (English, French, Hebrew and Arabic), including twenty books, edited works, records, and articles – a result of fifty years of work in the field of Arabic music, its ethnomusicology, the history of its theory, and its social-cultural history (a comprehensive list of his publications appeared in his Festschrift, Ben ever le-arav 4, Haifa University, 2008). Shiloah also advanced the fields of Jewish ethnomusicology, especially the study of Jewish-Arab and Sephardi traditions in their countries of origin from Morocco to Iraq, and in Israel. Finally, he has contributed significant writings to the study of Israeli art music. © RONIT SETER, 2010, originally published in Encyclopedia Judaica, 2007.