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Jerusalem: Early History  

Hanoch Avenary

The importance of Jerusalem as a music centre originated in the foundation by King David of a central extra-tribal sanctuary, the Temple to Solomon or First Temple of Jerusalem, for which he laid down well-defined musical functions. A certain group of landless Levites was to devote itself entirely to music throughout all its generations. Although the principle of organized officialdom in cult music also existed elsewhere in ancient Asia, the Bible gives a detailed account of how it actually worked (1 Chronicles xv, xvi, xxiii and xxv). The first step (c1002 bce) was the appointment of three elders to lead with cymbals the performance of 14 string players and seven trumpeters. This body of 24 musicians was based on the symbolic number of 12, which remained in force in both the First and the Second Temple of Jerusalem. About 970 bce David fixed the total of active musicians at 288 (i.e. 24 x 12), and they were also given a kind of royal charter (...


Jerusalem: Modern History  

Ury Eppstein

Musical life in modern Jerusalem can be divided into two separate spheres: the liturgical music of the various Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious communities who maintain their living musical traditions; and Western secular art music.

Most of the many Jewish religious musical traditions are represented in the synagogues of the various communities, the most ancient being of Middle Eastern origin, mainly from the Yemen, Baghdad, Kurdistan, Iran, Bokhara and Syria. On further investigation, these may prove to preserve elements of musical traditions from biblical times. There are also representatives of the musical traditions of Spanish-based Sephardi communities, especially those from North Africa, Greece and Turkey, as well as of the mainstreams of eastern European Ashkenazi tradition, namely Hasidism (which created in Jerusalem a special vocal style imitating instruments, stimulated by the ban on instrumental music imposed to signify mourning for the destruction of the Temple) and its opponents, Mithnagdim, who developed a Jerusalem version of the Lithuanian-style Bible cantillation. Western European communities, mainly from Germany, also have synagogues with their own musical traditions....