Songs of Sonderling

Songs of Sonderling

Commissioning Jewish Émigré Composers in Los Angeles, 1938–1945

Modern Jewish History

by Jonathan L. Friedmann and John F. Guest

Foreword by Nick Strimple

Published by: Texas Tech University Press

224 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in

  • Hardcover
  • 9781682830796
  • Published: November 2020

$34.95

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  • eBook
  • 9781682830802
  • Published: November 2020

$19.95

Songs of Sonderling is the story of Jacob Sonderling’s unique contributions to Jewish liturgical music. Rabbi Sonderling was many things: a descendant of Chassidic rebbes, a rationalist, a Reform rabbi, a Zionist, an army chaplain, a celebrated orator, an artistic soul. From his early career at the Hamburg Temple and German Army service in World War I, to his wandering years in the Eastern United States and founding of the Society for Jewish Culture–Fairfax Temple in Los Angeles, Sonderling cultivated a unique aesthetic vision of Judaism, a “five-sense appeal.”

Jonathan L. Friedmann and John F. Guest document and analyze Sonderling’s experience and expression of Judaism through music. Rabbi Sonderling’s vision yielded liturgical commissions from exiled Viennese Jewish composers who arrived in Los Angeles in the 1930s and 1940s. Through these musical settings, activities at the Fairfax Temple, and involvement with the Los Angeles campus of the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, Sonderling made an indelible mark on the city’s Jewish community and the wider musical world.

Songs of Sonderling focuses on the commissions Sonderling made from 1938 to 1945: Ernst Toch’s Cantata of the Bitter Herbs, Arnold Schoenberg’s Kol Nidre, Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s A Passover Psalm and Prayer, and Eric Zeisl’s Requiem Ebraico. Through musical analyses and an examination of Sonderling’s career in Los Angeles, Friedmann and Guest contribute to the study of Jewish liturgical music, to Jewish history in the American West, to Jewish identity in the twentieth century, and to Jewish diaspora writ large.