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David  

James W. McKinnon

(fl c1010–961 bce). Founder, king and charismatic ruler of the united kingdom of Israel. He occupies a central position in Jewish and Christian musical tradition.

The story of David is told in the books of Samuel, dating from nearly contemporary sources, and 1 Chronicles, from the 4th century bce, containing material of somewhat lesser reliability. He was obviously a man of special talent. Born the youngest son of Jesse (Yishai), a sheep herder from Bethlehem, he acquired, by a combination of prowess at arms, vision, opportunism and force of personality, the kingship of Judah upon the death of Saul, united it to the northern provinces of Israel, established his court at Jerusalem and conquered the neighbouring rivals of Israel within an area stretching from the frontier of Mesopotamia to Egypt. His political achievement, which showed signs of disintegration in his later life, was never again equalled in ancient Israel. Thus he became the ideal of Jewish kingship and was also closely related to the Messianic ideal. These ideals carried over into Christianity so that a medieval ruler like Charlemagne was referred to as the ‘novus David’, and Jesus of Nazareth, whom the Christians accepted as the Messiah, was, according to the Gospels, the ‘son of David’ of the ‘tree of Jesse’....

Article

Eliyahu Schleifer

(b Kiev, June 1, 1898; d Tel-Aviv, Jan 27, 1964). Israeli cantor and composer of Ukrainian birth. Born into a family of cantors (both of his grandfathers were cantors, as was his father), he made his cantorial début in Kiev at the age of eight. At the age of 14 he became the choir director at his father's synagogue, where he helped to introduce the 19th-century polyphonic repertory. He studied the piano and theory at the Totovsky Conservatory and later counterpoint and composition with Glière. In 1920 he moved to Chişinău, now in Moldova, where he served as cantor and continued his studies with Abraham Berkowitsch (known as Kalechnik), an authority on cantorial recitatives. After emigrating to the USA in 1926 he served as cantor for congregations in New York and Los Angeles. His extensive recordings with Asch and RCA Victor made him famous in Ashkenazi Jewish communities. In ...

Article

Gudrun Engberg

revised by Alexander Lingas

(b Emesa [now Homs], Syria, late 5th century; d Constantinople, after 555). Byzantine hymnographer and composer. Perhaps of Jewish descent, he was a deacon in the Church of the Resurrection in Beirut and towards the end of the 5th century went to Constantinople, where he served at the Church of the Virgin in the city’s Kyros quarter. A hymn in Romanos’s honour mentions his acquaintance with the imperial court. He may have become famous during his lifetime, since an almost contemporary papyrus fragment containing part of a well-known hymn by him has been found in Egypt. It is, however, uncertain whether he was the ‘presbyteros’ and ‘ekklēsiekdikos’ mentioned in the acts of the Synod of 536. He was canonized and is commemorated by the Eastern Orthodox Church on 1 October as the patron saint of music.

Romanos’s vita is lost, but summaries are transmitted in Byzantine synaxaria and menologia, according to which Romanos was inspired by the Virgin to write ...