Chazzanut Groningen

Introduction and Background

The Jewish liturgical tradition from Groningen is a venerable Jewish musical treasure. Belonging to the now eroded West Ashkenazi branch of the liturgical Jewish traditions, this tradition includes elements from the old German Jewish nussah (as opposed to the now predominant Eastern European Jewish liturgy) combined with local musical compositions from more modern times. Some of the modern compositions were composed in the 19th century by new generations of cantors proficient in the general musical culture of Western Europe.

Uniqueness of this project

The main source of this project is the manuscript collection titles "Kaul Jehoedoh" compiled in 1928 by B.M. Stern from the lore of cantor J.I. Vleeschhouwer, chief cantor in Groningen. This unique document of 172 pages contains the music for most of the liturgical cycle, which is a typical example of the Western European style, which at the time, dominated also in the Dutch Synagogue music.

There are very few publications that document the West Ashkenazi tradition and therefore the publication of this collection is a most valuable addition to the field of Jewish liturgical music. This project and publication comes firstly to preserve the Jewish Dutch Liturgical tradition as found in the uniqe Vleeschhouwer manuscript. Being a rare documantation of an unfortunately disappearing tradition, it is vital to preserve it and introduce it to the next generations.As writen by M. B. Stern in his introduction to the manuscript (1928):
"I collected melodies that are not to be found in any other book of Chazzanut... if in the future there will be a collection of Dutch Chazzanut, I hope this work will contribute and help for generations to come".

Such a publication, with its uniqe and wealthy repertoire, will not only serve the Dutch community, but also the academic sector and hopefully be used by cantors and synagogue choirs around the world who are eager to rediscover the roots of the Ashkenazi traditions.

Goals of the project

The goal of the project is to publish a book and a companion CD titled "The West Ashkenazi Liturgical Tradition of Groningen (Netherlands)" in the framework of Yuval Music Series and Anthology of Music Traditions in Israel, series of the Jewish Music Research Center of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

The book (trilingual English-Hebrew-Dutch) will include the musical transcriptions of the liturgical repertoire appearing in the above mentioned manuscript, including variants of the related pieces from Amsterdam, England, France, Germany and other areas of the Western Ashkenazi area. Commentaries written by the best experts of Ashkenazi liturgical music will follow each piece. A general introduction will put the material from Groningen into the general perspective of the study of Ashkenazi liturgical music.

The CD will include a selection of pieces included in the book taken from field recordings located at the National Sound Archives in the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem as well as new, original recordings prepared especially for this project. A booklet, describing the selected pieces, will be included in the CD album.
This project (book and a CD) is planned to be put together within two years.

The People involved with the Project

The project is executed under the supervision of Prof. Edwin Seroussi, director of the Jewish Music Research Center at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a member of the academic board of the Center for Research on Dutch Jewry. For the practical side, the arrangement and recording of the music, Raymond Goldstein will be involved. Goldstein is the arranger / composer (and associate-conductor) for the Jerusalem Great Synagogue Choir and teaches at the Tel Aviv Cantorial Institute and the Rubin Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem.