Theological Stains: Art Music and the Zionist Project

ISBN : 9780197504642

Assaf Shelleg
456 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Jan 2021
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Theological Stains offers the first in-depth study of the development of art music in Israel from the mid-twentieth century to the turn of the twenty-first. In a bold and deeply researched account, author Assaf Shelleg explores the theological grammar of Zionism and its impact on the art music written by emigrant and native composers. He argues that Israeli art music, caught in the tension between a bibliocentric territorial nationalism on the one hand and the histories of deterritorialized Jewish diasporic cultures on the other, often features elements of both of these competing narratives. Even as composers critically engaged with the Zionist paradigm, they often reproduced its tropes and symbols, thereby creating aesthetic hybrids with 'theological stains.' Drawing on newly uncovered archives of composers' autobiographical writings and musical sketches, Shelleg closely examines the aesthetic strategies that different artists used to grapple with established nationalist representations. As he puts the history of Israeli art music in conversation with modern Hebrew literature, he weaves a rich tapestry of Israeli culture and the ways in which it engaged with key social and political developments throughout the second half of the twentieth century. In analyzing Israeli music and literature against the backdrop of conflicts over territory, nation, and ethnicity, Theological Stains provides a revelatory look at the complex relationship between art and politics in Israel.


List of Music Examples
Introduction: Stains?
Chapter 1: Non-Biblical Tonalities: Biblocentrism in Modern Hebrew Culture and Its Operatic Undoing
Chapter 2: Horizontal Realizations: The Agency of Non-Western Jewish Musical Traditions in Art Music of the 1950s and '60s
Chapter 3: Broken Hebrewist Vessels
Chapter 4: Compositional Solutions (In the Double Sense of the Word)
Index $ https://global.oup.com/academic/product/9780197504642 $ HBJF1
AVGE $ Middle Eastern history
Literary studies: general
Non-Western music: traditional & classical

About the author: 

Assaf Shelleg is Assistant Professor of Musicology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His award-winning first book, Jewish Contiguities and the Soundtrack of Israeli History (OUP, 2014) examines the emergence of modern Jewish art music in Central and Western Europe in the early twentieth century and its translocation to Palestine/Israel from the 1930s through the 1970s. It was translated into German in 2017 with Mohr Siebeck.

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