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Leon Modena on the Legality of Art Music in the Synagogue

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Chapter Summary

Leon Modena had a keen interest in music, both as practiced in the synagogue and as composed. In 1605, while in Ferrara, Modena introduced art music into the synagogue after the precedent of art music in the Temple. Coimbran's thesis was that art music, as practiced in the Temple, was a form of rejoicing, but there was no reason for the Jews to rejoice once the sanctuary was ravaged and they were sent into exile. Hosea warned them against rejoicing as other nations (9:1) and Psalms 137:4 against singing songs of the Temple in exile. The two verses from Hosea and Isaiah set various themes: instrumental music versus vocal music; music played or sung while rejoicing or while drinking wine; and the difference between the Jews and "the nations".

Keywords: art music; Coimbran's thesis; Hosea; Isaiah; Jews; Leon Modena



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