Thursday, August 05, 2004

Hashirim asher l’Shlomo—An intro to Italian Jewish composer Salamone Rossi

The president of our shul was kind enough to lend me a copy of Musica Judaica: Journal of the American Society for Jewish Music, Volume XV (5761/2000-2001) containing a review of Don Harrán’s Salamone Rossi: Jewish Musician in Late Renaissance Mantua. According to Harrán, Rossi composed 150 secular works in Italian (for three to five voices) and 129 instrumental works. But what’s of the greatest interest to me is his musical publication Hashirim asher l’Shlomo, a collection of 33 Hebrew settings, among them 17 psalms, five piyyutim (such as Adon Olam, Ein Kelokenu, and Yigdal), two versions of Kadish Shalem, the prayer Hashkivenu, “and the wedding ode Lemi ehpots (‘one of the first examples of a Hebrew wedding cantata’ and ‘perhaps one of the most sacred items in the collection.’” To the best of my knowledge, Rossi was one of the first composers of Jewish multi-part choral music—and remains one of the finest.

As a choir member in our old shul, I had the privilege of singing four Rossi compositions—a four-part Bar’chu, a four-part Hal’luyah (Hal’li Nafshi, Psalm 146), and both four- and eight-part versions of Adon Olam. They were among the most difficult pieces I ever learned—and also among the most beautiful. I hear Rossi’s music in my head whenever I davven the Pesuké d’Zimra (Verses of Song/Introductory Prayers), since Hal’li Nafshi is right after Ashré.

Here's a nod of respect from one Salamone to another.


Blogger Fran In NH said...

I know the feeling. Hang in there, though. Try converting from another religion--like me. I've just learned to accept my weirdness and get on with it. It's hard, I know, but some people will never "get over it". My shul is Reform/Conservative/Whatever, but when I lived in Brooklyn, Noo Yawk, I had much the same problems you describe. Unfortunately, it doesn't help to have this overwhelmingly Republican/RightWing/Fundamentalist climate, either. Good luck.

Thu Aug 05, 05:33:00 PM 2004  

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