Earlier this month, the Klau Library hosted the annual Feld Memorial Lecture in memory of Natalie Feld. This year's lecture was given by Dr. Edwin Seroussi, Director of the Jewish Music Research Centre at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and winner of the 2018 Israel Prize. Open to the public, the well-attended talk held on March 6th was entitled Changing the Map of Jewish Music: The Birnbaum Collection Forty Years After its Retrieval. Through a survey of items in the collection, Seroussi elucidated his contributions to the field building from this rich resource and suggested future avenues of research using the collection. Various musical examples were included, and may be enjoyed along with the lecture here.
In conjunction with the lecture, the Klau Library created an exhibit called Eduard Birnbaum: Cantor, Composer, and Collector. Through an exhibition of Birnbaum’s original compositions, scores from his extensive collection, and illustrations and photographs from his archive, viewers were guided through Edward Birnbaum’s journey from novice cantor to a sought-after musical expert. This exhibit was curated by Chana Wolfson, a long-time member of the Library staff and current graduate student in Library Science, and Jardena Gertler-Jaffe, musician, ethnomusicologist and employee of the Klau Library, currently cataloging the Birnbaum Collection.
Following the public lecture, on Thursday, March 7th, Dr. Seroussi met with the College-Institute students, faculty, and staff for a “Lunch n' Learn” session titled The Folksong in Ladino: Between Tradition and Modernity. Dr. Seroussi introduced attendees to a traditional Ladino folksong and then traced its evolution throughout history as the song’s theme or melody turned up in disparate and far-flung cultures and communities around the world. Through this lecture, Seroussi examined the patriation of folksong traditions, examining this specific example from the Sephardic tradition. Much of the evidence was presented through YouTube, a new method of ethnographic research that relies on audio/video material uploaded from users around the world, and which also enabled participants to see and hear first-hand how these developments were manifested.
The Library exhibit on Eduard Birnbaum can be viewed in the Library’s first floor main exhibit area. The Birnbaum collection has been digitized and is in the process of being cataloged and processed so that it can be accessible by the public. You may view the project’s progress at http://music.huc.edu/birnbaum-collection/