JMF Presents “Robert Lachmann’s Oriental Music Archive in Mandatory Palestine”

The next event of The Jewish Music Forum 2010-2011 Season will be
Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011
at Center for Jewish History, New York, NY,
Dr. Ruth Davis will present a lecture
entitled “Robert Lachmann’s Oriental Music Archive in Mandatory Palestine.”
The Jewish Music Forum, now in its seventh season, is a project of
The American Society for Jewish Music, with support from The
American Jewish Historical Society.
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Event details are as follows:

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011
4:00 P.M.
Center for Jewish History
15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011

All events are FREE and open to the public.

“Robert Lachmann’s Oriental Music Archive in Mandatory Palestine”
Dr. Ruth Davis, Institute of Sacred Music Fellow in Sacred Music,
Worship, and the Arts, Yale University, 2010-11.

“Robert Lachmann’s Oriental Music Archive in Mandatory Palestine”
In 1935, the German Jewish ethnomusicologist Robert Lachmann arrived
in Jerusalem to establish an Archive of Oriental Music in the
newly founded Hebrew University. Over the following three years he
made nearly 1000 recordings on metal disc documenting sacred and
secular musical traditions of the various ‘oriental’ communities
(including Samaritans, Jews, Christians and Muslims) living in and
around the city. In strife-ridden 1930s Palestine, the inclusiveness
of Lachmann’s vision appealed to the pacifistic stance of the University’s
Chancellor, the Californian-born Rabbi Judah L. Magnes who, like
several other prominent members of the University, promoted the
ideology of Cultural Zionism, which derived its core values from
Jewish ethical teachings. Adopting a complementary rhetoric, Lachmann
insisted that his work could help promote better understanding between
Europeans and their ‘Oriental neighbors’ and between Jews and Arabs.
In this respect, his work foreshadows present day attempts, in the
Middle East and elsewhere, to foster intercultural understanding
through music.

Among Lachmann’s numerous outreach activities was a series of twelve
radio programs entitled ‘Oriental Music’, broadcast by the Palestine
Broadcasting Service between 1936 and 1937. The programs were
illustrated by live performances by local musicians and singers
simultaneously recorded onto metal disc. In this presentation I
consider how the theoretical premises underlying Lachmann’s research,
rooted in the traditions of comparative musicology, complemented
his ideological stance. I will illustrate my talk with examples of
the digitally restored music recordings.

Ruth Davis publishes, teaches and broadcasts on the music of North
Africa, the Middle East and the wider Mediterranean with principle
research areas in mainland Tunisia, the island of Jerba, Israel
and Mandatory Palestine. She studied piano performance at the Royal
Academy of Music and took a BMus degree at King’s College London,
followed by graduate studies in Ethnomusicology at the University
of Amsterdam and in Music and Middle Eastern Studies at Princeton
University where she received her PhD in 1986. Her book Ma’luf:
Reflections on the Arab Andalusian music of Tunisia was published
by the Scarecrow Press (Lanham, MD) in 2004. Her recent publications
include ‘Ethnomusicology and Political Ideology in Mandatory Palestine:
Robert Lachmann’s “Oriental Music” Projects’, Music and Politics
4, 2 (2010); ‘Time, Place and Memory: Music for a North African
Jewish Pilgrimage’ in E. Levi and F. Scheding eds., Music and
(Dis)placement, Scarecrow Press (2010); and ‘Jews, Women, and the
Power to be Heard: Charting the Early Tunisian Ughniyya to the
Present Day’, in L. Nooshin, ed., Music and the Play of Power in
North Africa, Middle East and Central Asia, Ashgate (2009). In
2010 she was a Rockefeller Foundation scholar in residence at the
Bellagio Center, Italy, and she is spending the 2010-11 academic
year as a Fellow of the Institute of Sacred Music, Yale University,
where she is working on the project ‘Music at the Mediterranean
Crossroads of the Abrahamic Faiths’. She is Senior Lecturer in
Ethnomusicology and Fellow and Director of Studies in Music at
Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge.

The Jewish Music Forum is an organization devoted to the study of
music in Jewish life in all of its historical and contemporary
diversity. Founded in the fall of 2004 under the auspices of the
American Society for Jewish Music, with the support of the
American Jewish Historical Society and the Center for Jewish
History, the Jewish Music Forum seeks to provide a thriving
habitat for interdisciplinary dialogue and scholarly exchange
in the growing academic field of Jewish musical studies as well
as a critical intellectual resource for specialists across a
spectrum that includes cantors, composers, performers, students,
educators, artistic directors, journalists, and others from the
fields of musicology, anthropology, literature, Jewish studies,
and American studies. By linking together members of these
communities, the Forum serves as an academic professional
network and intellectual resource for all who are interested in
the role of music in Jewish life.