Just like other cultural nations
Jews have both traditional and art music.
Jewish traditional music is well known: Yiddish and Sephardic songs and
especially the Klezmer,
this unique instrumental folklore of the Eastern European Jews.
However the oldest and most authentic part of the Jewish musical tradition
is the music of the synagogue. It is based on motives that are probably two
and a half thousand years old - they were sung in the Second Temple in Jerusalem.
Even today texts from the Holy Script are performed using these motives,
the so-called tropes.
Due to various misconceptions, on the other hand, the very
existence of Jewish art music is called into question.
For example at one time works by composers of Jewish origin like Mendelssohn,
Meyerbeer or Mahler were considered
"Jewish music". It was supposed that the ethnic descent of the
composer in some way influenced his works. But there are no specific Jewish
stylistic characteristics in the works of - most assimilated and baptized -
Jewish composers of the 19th century.
Only at the beginning of the 20th century did Jewish composers show interest in
the roots of Jewish music. The center
of the Jewish national movement in music was Russia. This movement was part of a Jewish
cultural Renaissance, which also supported the spreading of Zionist ideas.
A new national consciousness pervaded the Russian-Jewish cultural climate of the period
in which the New Jewish School developed. For the first time in music history, this school
created a Jewish style, which integrated elements of Eastern Jewish folklore and
liturgical music into musical art.