Sunday, November 24
Concert 7:30 PM
Conference, Concert, and Dinner $75
Conference and Concert $50
Pre-registration suggested, walk-in registration, one hour in advance
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
One West 4th Street (between Broadway and Mercer Street)
New York City
Dr. Eric Werner (1901-1988): Building Sacred Bridges celebrates Dr. Eric Werner's enduring legacy as an eminent scholar, teacher and composer who opened new doors in Jewish musicology. As one of the founders of HUC-JIR's School of Sacred Music, he passionately sought to establish a vibrant future for sacred music. He trained generations of cantors and challenged scholarship by asserting the existence of a bridge between synagogue and church music. This international conference--the first examination of the legacy of one of the giants of Jewish music--will explore Dr. Werner's life and scholarship through lectures and performance. It will highlight his major contributions to Jewish music as well as investigate the interconnections of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic sacred music.
Dr. Eric Werner was a leading authority on all aspects of Jewish music. Born on August 1, 1901, in Vienna, he studied at European universities and academies, including those in Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Goettingen, and Strasbourg. He was awarded a Ph.D. in 1928 in Strasbourg, where he earned his doctorate in classics and musicology; his dissertation, written in Latin, was a comparative study of the Western Christian and Jewish forms of cantillation. This opened the door to a lifelong study of Christian and Jewish liturgy.
Dr. Werner served as Vice President and Professor of Music at the Conservatory of Music in Saarbruecken and at its gymnasium (1926-1933) and as Professor of Music at the Jewish gymnasium and Jewish Theological Seminary of Breslau (1934-1938). His musical education was highlighted by his studies with Professors Curt Sachs and Guido Adler in the master class of composition at the Berlin State Academy of Music (with Franz Schreker) and then at the Academy of Arts (with Ferruccio Busoni). His compositions were performed by the Hindemith Quartet and by the orchestras of Saarbruecken, Frankfurt, Cincinnati (under Eugene Goossens), Minneapolis (under Dimitri Mitropoulos), and Milan (under Nino Sanzogno).
With increased restrictions on Jewish life under the Nazis, in 1938 Dr. Werner managed to enter the United States on a visitor's visa. Hebrew Union College secured for Werner a non-quota immigration visa following the retirement of its leading Jewish musicologist, the renowned Abraham Idelsohn. Later, Dr. Werner was appointed Professor of Jewish Music and Director of the Choir at HUC in Cincinnati. Eventually, Dr. Werner joined HUC-JIR's New York School where, in 1948, he was a founding member of its School of Sacred Music.
Dr. Werner was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1957 to study the concepts of liturgy and their influence on the history of church and synagogue music. His research led to publication of The Sacred Bridge: The Interdependence of Liturgy and Music in Synagogue and Church During the First Millennium, the first full-length comparative study of the music of Christian and Jewish liturgies showing the liturgical and musical interdependence of church and synagogue during the first millennium of the Christian era and highlighting the cultural exchanges between East and West that occurred during those centuries.
After being named Professor Emeritus at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Dr. Werner inaugurated the Department of Musicology at Tel Aviv University and served as the first chairman of the department from 1966-1971. In 1967, HUC-JIR bestowed upon him an honorary doctorate and in 1968, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem honored Dr. Werner by dedicating to him Yuval, its first yearbook on Jewish music. In 1982, the Austrian Republic awarded him its Great Golden Sign of Merit, First Class, for his contributions to the arts and sciences.
Dr. Eric Werner was the author of more than 120 learned publications on the history of Jewish music and other musicological subjects, including Mendelssohn: A New Image of the Composer and His Age (1963); A Voice Still Heard: The Sacred Songs of the Ashkenazic Jews (1976). Dr. Werner was also editor of Contributions to a Historical Study of Jewish Music (1976). His collected papers are in the archives of the Leo Baeck Institute.
Located at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion's New York School, The School of Sacred Music is the oldest institution in America dedicated to educating cantors--leaders of Jewish congregational prayer, composers of liturgical poetry and song, teachers, and communal leaders. Founded in 1948, the SSM preserves Jewish musical traditions nearly lost in the Holocaust and promotes the Jewish musical creativity that has flowered in the decades after World War II. The SSM is the preeminent institution worldwide for educating cantors for the Reform Jewish community and K'lal Yisrael.