So, if you check out my Facebook feed you’ll know that I have a very eclectic taste in music. I do love mostly 80s songs, but will listen to just about anything at least once, and have a healthy respect for the Blues that the KoD listens to. I abhor the rap “music” that teens seems to listen to these days, but I am sure when I was growing up my mother hated the music we all listened to.
I also love chazzanut – the cantorial songs of the religious liturgy. Around Yom Kippur time I youtubed so many different Yom Kippur themed clips – Barbra Streisand singing Avinu Malkeinu, Al Jolson singing Kol Nidrei.
I recently came across the Milken Archive. I had not known that there was an organization out there that was committed to saving and archiving American Jewish recordings that within generations would possibly be lost. I personally love listening to recordings of the Cantors from way back when – their voices were something special to behold – David Roitman, David Kusevitsky to name a couple, but the Archives also have recordings of singers, composers and groups too.
The Milken Archive (More about the founder here) also has tremendous collections from Yiddish Theatre (One of my favourite Yiddish plays is Mirele Efros, closely followed by an awesome adaptation of Fiddler on the Roof that I saw in Montreal at the Dora Wasserman Theatre eons ago), Klezmer, Children’s Songs, the list goes on. I have been loving listening to the clips that they have online – what they call a “virtual museum”.
From the website:
Though the Archive’s musical collection is voluminous, of equal importance are its collections of oral histories, interviews, photographs, and historical memorabilia, all of which lend historical depth and cultural context. Oral histories and interviews have been completed with senior cantors, veterans of the Yiddish theater, composers, conductors and others, thus preserving the knowledge, performance traditions, and stories of the individuals who brought, and continue to bring, this music to life. This unprecedented wealth of memories and first-person accounts will be a unique resource for students, scholars, documentary filmmakers, cultural historians, and anyone interested in American Jewish history.
Since I came to the US two years ago I have been reading up and learning my American history and my American Jewish history. Discovering this archive has added a new dimension to this study. I am thirsty for more.
If American Jewish history is your thing, check out the Archive. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter to keep track of the latest happenings.