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English Kurzbeschreibung Texte Moshe Kahn Die Musiker




Stories of Rabbi Israel ben Elieser 

known as The BAAL-SHEM-TOV

Texts you find here  -  to the CD!

Concept and background

The world of the Jewish Shtetl, the important centres of Jewish learning and teaching throughout Eastern Europe were destroyed during the Second World War, when the troops of the Wehrmacht and SS-units invaded those countries, reduced them to debris and ashes, killed their people or deported them into slavery in the Grossdeutsche Reich, where they were submitted to forced labour in order to replace the "Great German" men who - following the Nazi orders - were busy destroying those countries, extinguishing their cultures, with only one plan in their mind: to steal as many treasures as possible from these countries, to abduct their population into slavery and to eliminate their Jews.

In the end, they did not succeed. Much of what had been destroyed, was rebuilt, much of what had been stolen, was returned. However, those who had been exterminated, did not come back, and what had been extinguished, remained absent in those places.

Those who were murdered, continue to live in our memory, that which was destroyed rises anew in other parts of the world through Jewish Holocaust survivors and their descendants. In addition, to preserving and transmitting the old, they develop new traditions as a living gift to the next generation.

The music of this Jewish world in Eastern Europe is what we call "klezmer". The word is made up of two Hebrew words "kli" and "zemer" - literally instrument and music. At an early stage, this music surmounted the narrow boundaries of its world, travelled and found large diffusion wherever Jews from Eastern countries went to settle, in search of a safer life. Thus we find it in Israel, North America and Australia, and, in recent years, more and more in Central and Western Europe.

Moshe Kahn and the Salzburg Klezmer band "The Klezmer Connection" have now started to combine these old tunes in new arrangements with stories and anecdotes which recreate the spiritual world, in which this music is rooted. "It is a landscape, in which a not inconsistent part of those Hassidic stories were at home, which Martin Buber told all of us in German", said one of the most important and extraordinary poets of the 20th century, German writer Paul Celan (1920-1970) in his speech on receiving the Literature Award of Bremen in 1959. Celan, who came originally from Bukovina in Romania, continued with a most remarkable phrase: "It was ... a part of the world where people lived and breathed books."

Celan uses here the past tense, for in 1959 he talked about the past of this world which in this form did not exist any longer then, and the landscape present in 1959 had long since fallen into historical oblivion and lost her once remarkable face.

The aim of this first program, which brings together Moshe Kahn and The Klezmer Connection, is to give a mental and spiritual representation of the life-span of the founder of the still existing, yet much changed and rather closed Hassidic movement. Known as the holy Baal Shem Tov (Master of the Good Name), the founder's real name was Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer. He lived from 1700 to 1762. The Hassidic movement was originally a group within the Jewish religion, which believed in an active and joyous practice of faith, free from all fossilisation (petrifaction).

The Baal Shem Tov himself did not write any books or tracts. All we know about him and his thoughts and teachings came onto us by his disciples and their disciples.

The present program thus uses exclusively the stories and anecdotes collected and written down by the great Viennese theological and philosophical thinker Martin Buber (1878 - 1965) and spans the period from the birth of the Baal Shem Tov until approximately 50 years after his death. The Klezmer music interacts with the stories, accompanies and comments on passages of this very rich and most beautiful genre of literature.

Thus, this world is opened for us yet from another point of view and we are able to see what has deeply influenced, determined and sustained the daily life of the Jews in those landscapes, quite beyond all Jewish jokes, musicals and movies. Even today, the teachings of the great holy Baal Shem Tov and his disciples exercise a strong influence, though no longer in those landscapes where they originated, but in many Jewish communities of the cities in America, Europe and Israel.

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Letzte Änderung: 18.05.13           © webmaster: georg winkler