Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Pencak, William. “Jewish Elements in the Operas of Giacomo Meyerbeer.” Shofar 32, no. 1 (Fall 2013): 43-59.

Jewish composer Giacomo Meyerbeer used Jewish musical and literary references in his operas. However, likely due to the anti-semitic tendencies in European culture in the nineteenth century, he did this almost without anyone noticing. In Jephtas Gelüdbe, Meyerbeer inserts a particular Jewish message, but the opera is generally devoid of Jewish music. Of interest regarding the inclusion of Jewish musical influences are Meyerbeer’s operas Les Huguenots, Le Prophète, and Vasco da Gama. In Les Huguenots, Meyebeer uses the stylistic elements of cantorial singing in arias. In Le Prophète, Meyerbeer includes a Kaddish, a Jewish prayer, as well as the Hebrew chant El Adon by Samuel Naumburg. By using Naumburg’s chant, Meyerbeer is following an old practice in which he honors other musicians by using their music. The opera Vasco da Gama includes a theme from the play Der Paria, which was written by Meyerbeer’s brother, Michael Beer, as well as a quotation from Halévy’s opera Charles VI, “Guerre aux Tyrans.” In addition to Jewish influences, Meyerbeer also self-borrows in his operas. For instance, in Les Huguenots and Le Prophète, Meyerbeer includes his own music from Jephtas Gelüdbe.

Works: Jacques Fromental Halévy: La Juive (43-44), Le Juif Errant (43), Noe (43); Giacomo Meyerbeer: Jephtas Gelüdbe (43, 45-46, 53), Les Huguenots (43, 46-47, 51), Vasco da Gama (43, 49-52), Le Prophète (43, 46-48); Anonymous: Zemirot Yisroel (47); Michael Beer: Streuensee (52), Clytemnestra (52).

Sources: Giacomo Meyerbeer: Jephtas Gelüdbe (46); Anonymous: Kaddish (47); Samuel Naumburg: El Adon (47-49); Michael Beer: Der Paria (49-52); Jacques Fromental Halévy: “Guerre aux Tyrans” from Charles VI (50).

Index Classifications: 1800s

Contributed by: Nicolette van den Bogerd

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