Starting Research in Jewish Music


This is a guide to library research in the field of Jewish music. It contains a selective list of resources that may be helpful for getting started. For additional assistance with research, consult your local librarian or write to me on email.

Analyzing your research question

For help narrowing your subject for research or with help in formulating your questions to make
them appropriate for online research, read this brief guide.

Research the vocabulary:

In looking for resources in Jewish music, the student should start not only with traditional Library of Congress Subject Headings such as “Jews–music” or “Synagogue music”, but keyword searching. Keyword searching is an important component of any search today and especially on Internet sources. Here are some samples of additional ways to access unknown materials and focus searching in catalogs, databases and online sources:

Using variations: Jews, Jewish, Judaic, Judaism, Jewry

Synonyms and/or related terms: Israeli, Yiddish, Ladino, Hebrew, Yemenite, Sephardic, Ashkenazic, Palestinian, Middle Eastern

Narrower or specific terms: nusach, masoretic chants, chazan, synagogue, avodat hakodesh, klezmer, kol nidrei, Koenigsberg tradition

Word variations or language transliterations: cantor, chazan, hazan, hazon, kanter

Corporate authors or institutions in note fields: Hebrew Union College, Ktav, Transcontinental, Bloch Publishing, Rubin Academy, Hebrew University

Societies or organizations: American Society of Jewish Music, Renanot Institute, Yeshiva University, YIVO, National Yiddish Book Center

Publication medium: sound recordings, videocassette, score, manuscript

Performance groups: Western Wind, Zamir Chorale, Poogy, Arbel

Names: Andy Statman, Debbie Friedman, Hankus Netsky, Srul Glick, Simon Sargon, Ben Steinberg, Nathan Lam, Shlomo Carlbach, Max Janowsky

Broader/and or Related Subject Headings: liturgical music, synagogues; Yiddish theater; Jewish culture; cantillation; manuscripts, Hebrew art song; chants (Jewish); folk song (Jewish); klezmer; Jewish musicians; zemirot; passover songs; Songs, Hebrew; Songs, Yiddish; Music in the Bible; Music in Synagogues; Psalms;

Foreign terms: schir; shirim; megillah; Hebraische Musik; Yehudiym; yidishe; Jiddische lieder; z’mirot; zemirot; nigun; lider; lieder

Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

Nulman, Macy. Concise Encyclopedia of Jewish Music. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1975

A single-volume work with brief entries. Serves as a handy ready reference source for names and terms. Contains an interesting time line chronology.

Brandeis: Music Ref ML102.J4 N84
JTS: JT1 MUSClass.ML106.J49
UCB: ML106.J49 N841
Avail. California Sys: UCLA UCSB UCI UCR UCSC UCSD
Harvard: Andover-Harv. Theol Ref. ML106.J49 N84
Encyclopedia Judaica 1971

Brandeis Ref Desk DS102.8 .E495 and online in ERC
UCB: Main DS102.8.E53 Y4
Harvard: Widener J CDROM 250 [Deposited in Reading Room]
Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart: allgemeine Enzyklopadie der Musik. 1994.

A six-volume general encyclopedia on musicians and the history of music.

Brandeis: Music Ref ML100 .M871 1994
UCB: Music ML100 .B55
Harvard: CD ROM, Widener.
New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians

This excellent general resource has several articles containing information on Jewish music. The online Grove has extensive articles on the history of Jewish music.

Brandeis: Music Ref ML100.N48 and access to online.
Oxford Companion to Music 1983.

This two-volume encyclopedia contains several entries on various topics such as cantillation, folksong and Jewish hymns.

Brandeis Music Ref ML 100. N5 1983


The Study of Jewish music: a bibliographical guide. 1995.

Part of the Yuval monograph series. A brief guide to Jewish music with descriptions of the usefulness of each work. Organized by time period and topics.

Brandeis Music Ref ML128 .J4 A35 1995
Ha-'Itonut ha-musikalit ha-Yehudit: 'Ivrit-Yidish-lo'azit. 1970.

Brandeis Main Stacks ML128 .P24 B45
Irene Heskes. Passport to Jewish Music: It's History, Traditions, Culture. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994.

A comprehensive narrative bibliography of Jewish music. One of the most up-to-date bibliographies with good research on Americana Jewish music.

Brandeis Main Library ML3776 .H47 1994
Irene Heskes. The Resource Book of Jewish Music: A Bibliographical and Topical Guide to the Book and Journal Literature and Program Materials. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1985.

An annotated bibliography and one of the best sources for anyone doing Jewish music research. Particularly useful are the sections on "Instruction and Performance Resources" and "Jewish Music Collections." The annotations written on these collections are the most comprehensive to date. Section A is "anthologies:liturgical and secular"; and Section B lists "hymnals and songsters." This book is a major source for the history of American Jewish music study.

Brandeis Music Ref ML128 .J4 H48 1985
Bibliography of Literature Concerning Yemenite-Jewish Music. 1973.

Includes primary sources and a selected discography.

Brandeis Music Ref ML128 .J4 M37
Segre, Marcella. Bibliyografyah shel ha-bibliografiyot ha-musikalyot ha-Yehudiyot. 1970. (Added t.p.: Bibliography of Jewish music bibliographies.)

Part of the series AMLI Studies in Music Bibliography; 3. Lists 250 items. Some annotations.

Brandeis Music Ref ML 128 .J4 S4
Sendrey, Alfred. Bibliography of Jewish Music. 1951

The early outstanding bibliography for Jewish music research with listings up to 1944. Over 10,000 items listed including publications in Hebrew, Arabic, Yiddish and European languages. Includes citations for musical scores. The introduction gives a brief history of the efforts in Jewish bibliography.

Brandeis Music Ref ML128 .J4 S5
Seroussi, Edwin. "Sephardic Music: A Bibliographical Guide with a Checklist of Notated Sources,"

Jewish Folklore and Ethnology Review, Vol. 15, No. 2, 1993, pp. 5661.

Brandeis Judaica [+] GR97.8 .J42
Universitah ha-Ivrit bi-Yerushalim. Jewish National and University Library. Yuval monograph series; 4.

A.Z. Idelsohn archives at the Jewish National and University Library: catalogue. 1976. This series, dedicated to Idelsohn, contains a comprehensive listing of his musical work in various languages.

Brandeis Main Stacks ML 136 .J47 A2
Weisser, Albert. Bibliography of Publications and other Resources on Jewish Music. 1969.

Based on the work of Joseph Yasser. Intended as a standard reference work for practicing musicians. Contains works in English only.

Brandeis Music Ref ML128 .J4 W4

Online Bibliographies

A Short Bibliography of Sephardic Music
Judith Cohen, a Toronto-based musicologist and specialist in Sephardic music, has compiled a brief discography and bibliography.

Jewish Music Research Centre
Jewish Music Research Centre, Jewish National and University Library, Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Table of Contents of the Yuval series with an author index, introduction to new publications printed full text, and descriptions of important musicological projects ongoing through the department are described.

Jewish Music Resources
The Zamir Chorale of Boston has a website that includes a select bibliography of Jewish music in articles and books. A list of journals of interest is included.

Yiddish Song: An A-Z of Research,
Abbi Wood, currently completing a PhD thesis on Yiddish folk song in the Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge, UK, has compiled a bibliography on Yiddish music. Texts are primarily from English language sources. Bibliography broken into genres, thematic and subject-oriented sections.

Guides and Bibliographies of Source Materials

Appleton, Lewis. Bibliography of Jewish vocal music. 1968.

A listing of vocal works, both solo and choral, for religious festivals and other events. An index of publishers includes addresses.

Music Ref ML128 .J4 A7
Bugatch, Samuel. "Bibliography of Yiddish folksongs," in The Historic contribution of Russian Jewry to Jewish music.

Yiddish song listing with annotations.

Main Stacks ML3776 .J39 H6
Edelman, Marsha B. A Bibliography of Jewish music: resource materials for educators. 1986.

An anthology of music selections arranged by instrument and graded for students. Contains an appendix with contents listing song titles of currently available Jewish music collections.

Music Ref ML128 .J4 E34 1986
Goldberg, Ira S. Bibliography of instrumental music of Jewish interest. Part 2: ensemble and solo. 1970

A listing arranged by composer within groupings of instrumental forces. Lists the title of works, instrumentation, duration of piece, publisher or source for obtaining music and brief descriptions. A publisher's index lists the name of publisher and address.

Music Ref ML128 .J4 G58
Krummel, Donald W., Jean Geil, Doris Dyen and Deane Root, eds. Resources of American Music History: A Directory of Source Materials from Colonial times to World War II.

Consult the index for entries on Ladino, Yiddish and Hebrew music as well as "Jewish music."

Music Ref ML120 .U5 R47
Ruben, Bruce. Seasons of our lives: a resource guide of the music, films and videos of Jewish life cycle occasions. 1986.

Lists of sources.

Music Ref ML128 .J4 R83 1986
Shiloah,A. and R. Tene. "Music Subjects in the Zohar -- Texts and Indices".< 12, 155, XIIIp. (in Hebrew) (Inventory of Jewish Musical Sources, Series B, I).

Yuval Monograph Series. Vol. 5.

Main Stacks ML 166 .N67
Tischler, Alice. A Descriptive Bibliography of Art Music by Israeli Composers, volume 62 in the series. Detroit Studies in Music Bibliography

From a collection gathered by the author, scores of music from Israeli and Jewish composers are described.

Music Ref ML120 .I75 T57 1988

Book reviews

Reviews of Books, Film and Theater

Major Print Resources in Jewish Music

Chanting the Hebrew Bible: The Complete Guide to the Art of Cantillation
by Joshua R. Jacobson
Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 2002.
bibliography pp. 937-948.
index to recording examples. + 1 companion CD (4 3/4 in.)

Finding journal literature

America: History and Life

Indexes and abstracts publications relating to the history of the United States and Canada. Indexing and abstracting from 1982.

WRI: Women's Resources International
Coverage is 1972--present. WRI covers ten databases with over 170,000 records on a variety of indisciplinary topics in the field of Also available in print as America: History and Life (1964-1995)
Brandeis: Indexes and Abstracts Area + Z1236 .A48
Brandeis: also: CD Network Z1236 .A48
British Humanities Index

Superseding The Subject Index to Periodicals (1915-1961 and containing also the British Technology Index, BHI indexes select journals in architecture, folklore, economics, politics, literature, history and the arts. Brandeis Libraries have holdings from 1962 - present.

Brandeis: The index is located in the Index and Abstract area of the Reference room.
Index and Abstracts Area AI3 .B7
Heskes, Irene. "Articles on Jewish Music Topics," The Resource Book of Jewish Music. 1985.Music Ref ML128 .J4 H48 1985
Heskes, Irene. "Jewish Music Periodicals: Issues and Contents." The Resource Book of Jewish Music. 1985.

Table of contents listings for various journals on Jewish music.

Brandeis: Music Ref ML128 .J4 H48 1985
Humanities Abstracts via FirstSearch

Consists of more than 400 periodicals in archaeology, art, classics, film, folklore, journalism, linguistics, music, the performing arts, philosophy, religion, world history and world literature. Indexing from February, 1984 to the present. Abstracts from March, 1994. Updated monthly. Brandeis Libraries also has print which includes a separate listing of citations to book reviews, dates back to April, 1974.

Brandeis: Database Webpage & Print, Index and Abstract Area AI3 .H3
Index to Jewish Periodicals

An author and subject index to selected American and Anglo-Jewish journals of general and scholarly Jewish interest.

Brandeis: Judaica Z6367 .I5
Readers' Guide Abstracts via FirstSearch

Popular periodicals published in the U.S. and Canada. Includes current events and news, fine arts, fashion, education, business, sports, health and nutrition, consumer affairs, and others. January 1983 to the present. Updated monthly. Preceded by Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature and Reader's Guide Historical.

Index and Abstract Area AI3 .R4.
RILM: Repertoire International de Litterature Musicale

RILM is available throughout the Brandeis campus for searching through FirstSearch, and on many library webpages. Coverage: Over 200,000 citations on international music corresponding to the printed RILM Abstracts of Music Literature. This file is produced by the Repertoire International de Litterature Musicale. It includes all data from the RILM printed year 1969 to the present. It is updated monthly.

Brandeis: Database webpage.
WRI: Women's Resources International

Coverage is 1972--present. WRI covers ten databases with over 170,000 records on a variety of indisciplinary topics in the field of women's studies. Databases available for searching include Women's Studies Abstracts, Women's Studies Database, Women's Studies Librarian, Women of Color,Southern Women, Women's Heath and Development and the Popline subset on women from the National Library of Medicine. There is also a Women's Studies Database Thesaurus with information on over 32,000 terms.

Brandeis: Database webpage


Israel Studies in Musicology
Published by the Department of Musicology, Tel Aviv University.

Journal of Jewish Music and Liturgy
Cantorial Council of America. Brandeis holdings 1976-present.
Brandeis Main Stacks ML3195 .J69

Journal of Synagogue Music
Published by the Cantor’s Assembly. Brandeis holdings 1996, Vol. 25, No. 1 – to present.
Brandeis Main Stacks ML1 .J73

Musica Judaica
The journal of the American Society for Jewish Music. Brandeis holdings 1975 – to present.
Brandeis Main Stacks ML1 .M3565

Orbis Musicae
From the Department of Musicology, University of Tel Aviv. Also called ASSAPH. Brandeis holdings 1971-1994.
Main Stacks ML5 .O675

Yuval articles are published variously in French, Hebrew and English. Hebrew University. Brandeis holdings 1968 – to present.
Main Stacks ML3776 .Y89

Guides to Archives and Primary Sources

Kahn, Eliott. An Inventory of  The Max Wohlberg Collection

Series edited by Naomi M. Steinberger. This is an annotated guide to the special collection of papers of Max Wohlberg (1907-1992) held in The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. These include compositions by Cantor Wohlberg and his collection of manuscripts and other items of Jewish music. Cantor Max Wohlberg was an important contributor, composer and cantor of Jewish music. He was one of the outstanding Jewish music leaders in America, helping found the Cantorial School at JTS where he taught for many years. The Sabin Family Music Library holds other important collections including “books, records, tapes, compact discs, sheet music, manuscripts and archives of Jewish music.” The Inventory is in English and Hebrew, with details about contents of the numbered boxes and titles within the Synagogue music collections.

Kahn, Eliott and Julie Miller. An Inventory of the Solomon Rosowsky Collection

Series edited by Naomi M. Steinberger. The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America has published this important annotated archival guide to the papers of composer and musicologist Solomon Rosowsky (1878-1962). The guide contains some biographical notes, descriptions of the series of collections, including correspondence and documents on Cantillation of the Bible, scrapbooks, photographs and subject files. The music collection includes “all of Rosowsky’s music published by the St. Petersburg Society for Jewish Folk Music, 1912-1917.” The guide includes a title index of musical works of Solomon Rosowsky and Baruch Leib Rosowsky (1841-1919) held in the collection, including unpublished compositions by B.L. Rosowsky for synagogue. Hebrew texts and titles in romanized letters.

Rodgers, Jonathan. “Report on Special Collections,” in Studies in Bibliography and Booklore, Vol. 13, Nos.1/2.

Lists musical and other materials at HUC-JIR Klau Library in the special collections division. This works as a guide to the music contained in the Library’s 72-reel microform reproduction of the Eduard Birnbaum manuscript collection held at the Klau Library of Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Brandeis Judaica Z6367 .S87
Victor, Warner. Rare Books from the Eric Mandell Music Collection

Judaica Ref ML128 .J4 G7

Vinaver, Chemjo. Anthology of Hassidic Music.

Access to this music with commentary in English and Hebrew
Brandeis Main M2186 .V5 A48 1985

Werner, Eric. “An Early Compendium of Ashkenzic Synagogue Music” in Studies in Bibliography and Booklore. Vol. 5.

Gives an overview and listing of the Eduard Birnbaum collection at HUC-JIR.
Brandeis Judaica Z6367 .S87

National Sound Archive, Jewish National and University Library
Hebrew University’s ongoing projects to have full music archives available in DAT format for many special collections in the Jewish National Library. Website gives introductory information.

Some Primary Source Collections at Brandeis Libraries

Thesaurus of Oriental Hebrew Melodies (HOM)

A ten-volume work of scores of the field transcriptions of Abraham Idelsohn of Jewish, Yiddish, Hebrew, Yemenite, Palestinian folk and sacred songs
Main Stacks M1852 .I222

Sacred Music Press.Out-of-Print classics series of synagogue music.

Each of these scores are catalogued individually in LOUIS.
Main Stacks M2186 .O84
Baer Abraham. Baal t’fillah
Main Stacks M2186 .O84 nr.1

Gerovitsch, Elieser.Sinagogen-gesange fur cantor und gemischten chor Nr.2-3
Main Stacks M2186 .O84 nr.2-3

Gerovitsch, Elieser. Schirej Simroh. Nr. 4,5.
Main Stacks M2186 .O84 Nr. 4-5

Sulzer, Solomon. Shir Tsiyon. Schir Zion. Nr. 6,7,8.
Main Stacks M2186 .O84 Nr. 6-8

Lewandowski, Louis. Kol rinnah u’f’fillah. Nr. 9.
Main Stacks M2186 .O84 Nr.9

Lewandowski, Louis. Todah w’simrah. (Todah ve-zimrah). 3 vol. nr. 10,11,12.
Main Stacks M2186 .O84 Nr.10-12

Naumbourg, Samuel. Zemirot Yisrael. Vol. 13,14,15.
Main Stacks M2186 .O84 Nr.13-15

Rossi, Salomon.Cantiques de Salomon Rossi, hebreo. Nr. 16,17.
Main Stacks M2186 .O84 Nr.16-17

Dunajewski, A. 30 (Dreissig) israelitische Tempel compositionen fur den Sabbath. Nr. 18.
Main Stacks M2186 .O84 Nr.18

Weintraub, Hirsch. Shire Beth Adonai. 3 vol. Nr. 19, 20, 21.
Main Stacks M2186 .O84 Nr.19-21

Nowakowsky, David. Gebete und Gesange zum Eingang des Sabbath (Kabbalat Shabbat). Nr. 22
Main Stacks M2186 .O84 Nr. 22

Nowakowsky, David. Schlussgebet fur Jom-Kippur. (Tefilat ne’ilah). Nr. 23.
Main Stacks M2186 .O84 Nr.23

Birnbaum, Abraham B. Die Kunst des judischen kantorats. nr. 24,25.
Main Stacks M2186 .O84 Nr.24-25

Yiddish Music Collection

Finding guide to the Brandeis University Library Special Collections Yiddish Sheet Music Collection.

Biographical information

Bohle, Bruce. ed. The International Cyclopedia of Music and Musicians.
A general one-volume work that includes brief biographical descriptions.
Music Ref: ML100 .I57 1985

“Musicians,” in Encyclopedia Judaica. vol. 12. 1971.
A sixteen-volume comprehensive encyclopedia with yearbooks. A listing of Jewish musicians with brief biographical descriptions or indicators to more extensive articles elsewehere in the encyclopedia.
Ref Desk DS102.8 .E495

Fater, Isakhar. Musikah Yehudit be-Polin ben shete milhamot ‘olam.
Jewish music in Poland between the world wars 1992.Publishing in Yiddish in 1970 on same topic, Fater (Isaschar) writes of Yiddish songs and choruses with words in romanized text. This text, published in Hebrew in 1992, includes brief biographical sketches of Jewish musicians.
Main Stacks ML3776 .F24 1992

Ravina, Menashe, ed. Who is who in ACUM: authors, composers and music publishers, biographical notes and principal works. 1965.
Israeli music and musicians and their works.
Main Ref ML106 .I75 R3

Saleski, Gdal. Famous Musicians of a Wandering Race. 1927.
Main Stacks ML385 .S24

Saleski, Gdal. Famous Musicians of Jewish Origin. 1949.
Main Stacks ML385 .S2 1949

Yardeni, Mordecai. Vort un Klang=Word and Sound. 3 vols.
3-volume Yiddish language collection of Yardeni memoirs and essays about musicians, artists, poets and writers.
Main Stacks DS 115 .Y37

Citation Guides for Online Sources

Guide to Citing Printed and Electronic Sources
An annotated guide that provides information and links to a variety of citation reference works. For both online and print sources. A Brandeis University Libraries publication.

The Columbia Guide to Online Style
Janice Walker and Todd Taylor. A reference work for citing electronic sources.

Modern Language Association Guidelines
The style recommended by the Modern Language Association for preparing scholarly manuscripts and student research papers. Includes mechanics of writing, such as punctuation and quotation.