This course offers an overview of the traditional, popular and art music cultures in modern Israel with a specific focus on the role of music in the formation of Jewish national culture in the Middle East from the end of the 19th century to the present. Jews who immigrated to Palestine from the four corners of the world brought with them a host of diverse musical cultures, many of which had never come in contact with one another before. These diverse worlds of sound developed through the 20th century, sharing common traits and joining (and clashing) in shaping “Israeliness.”

As heard in Israel, “world music” appears under an unexpected and intriguing light. Topics include the musical cultures of the Jews throughout the Diaspora and their meeting in Palestine with the rise of Zionism; the creation of national musical institutions (orchestras, opera theaters, musical academies, broadcasting stations, festivals, etc.); the multiple encounters between Jews and Arabic music; the role of music in the politics of conflict and peace; the relationship between sounds and history; music connections between Israel and the Diaspora. The study of this complex musical universe requires historical, musicological and anthropological tools.

The course will present a wide-angled perspective on the contrasts and unexpected connections among the different cultures voiced through music in Israel.

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