Music as Representation of Reform

The Role of Singing in the Jewish Reform Movement of the 19th Century

Andreas L. Fuchs

(part of the German-Israeli Research Project "Innovation through Tradition? Approaching cultural transformation through educational media“)

This project explores songs and the culture of singing in the 19th century Jewish Reform Movement. It examines processes of hybridization and the interrelation of tradition and innovation in German Jewish culture. Starting point for the project are centres such as Berlin, Hamburg, Vienna and the city known as the origin of reform Seesen. Singing and song culture are both means of representation and construction of cultural identity. Due to its plurimedial nature, they stand for change and the preservation of tradition at the same time. Therefore, it will be particularly enlightening to examine song books, hymnals and manuscripts, mainly from the first half of the 19. century, in order to lay bare the contemporaneity of tradition and innovation as well as the various ways in which songs and singing culture contributed to the reform movement. The project not only shows the central role of music and collective performance in a time of change but also makes a large vast of melodies available via a newly created database that allows detailed research also for future projects.