Jews in Music

Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk


Jewish Musicians

In 1938, after the Germans had invaded Austria to the delight of the Austrian population, the Nazi killers began to dig up Jewish cemeteries. One of their main objectives was to discard the markers of famous Jews so as to deny the Jewish contribution to the world’s civilization. Therefore they eradicated the grave of Johann Strauss, the father of the first waltz king and grandfather of Johann Strauss II, who wrote the Blue Danube, etc.

The first Strauss had come to Vienna from Hungary in 1804, the year his son was born.

He was a Jew. Therefore, the haters to this day rant against the Strauss family which had, of course, abandoned Judaism lest they not be acceptable to the hate mad Austrian population who gave rise to such “greats” as Hitler and Eichmann.

We ought not to consider the Strauss family Jewish except in the eyes of the enemies of God and man.

Among so-called classical composers who were Jewish was of course the great Felix Mendelssohn (1809 -1847), whose grandfather was the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786). Felix was raised a Christian, although his grandfather was an orthodox Jew.

Hate mongers call him a Jew composer. Therefore, he was Jewish, at least from the Nazi point of view. Be sure to listen to his great violin concerto.

The so-called French composer Jacques Offenbach was a German Jew. His name was Jacob Eberst (1819-1880). He left Germany in his youth to escape the haters and settled in Paris. Be sure to listen to his Gaite Parisinne.

There were many other European Jewish composers such as Giacomo Meyerbeer, whose name was Meyer Beer (1791-1864).

Other European Jewish composers were Ernest Bloch (1880-1959), and the great Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), whose Lied von der Erde or his symphonies rank among the first class compositions of European musicians. There were of course many others, such as Darius Milhaud, Arnold Schoenberg (a great musical innovator), and Emil Waldteufel, who wrote some gorgeous waltzes.

No doubt the leading American classical Jewish composer was George Gershwin (1898-1937), although there are those who would concede that honor to Aaron Copland (1900-1990). Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) was the third in this Jewish-classical triumvirate. He wrote oratorios, stage plays such as West Side Story, and movie music. He also wrote symphonies and all kinds of dances, songs, concertos, etc.

In this country the Jewish genius truly unfolded. Harold Arlen, Burt Bacharach, Irving Berlin, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Art Garfunkel, Marvin Hamlisch, Oscar Hammerstein, Jerome Kern, Frank Loesser, Frederick Lowe, Richard Rodgers, Neil Sedaka, Paul Simon, Stephen Sondheim and Kurt Weill were and are all Jewish. This is a partial list of those who created American music. Those not on the list were also Jewish, with a few exceptions.

Jews have written a good number of the rock ’n roll songs and even the Christian spirituals, such as the most popular Christian song “Spirit in the Sky”, whose composer is Norman Greenbaum.

Neil Sedaka, no doubt a major rock performer in this country, was a piano student of the famous classical pianist Artur Rubenstein. In the 1970’s Simon and Garfunkel created today’s popular music together with Billy Joel, the son of a holocaust survivor. Then there is the very much Jewish Barbra Streisand.

Consider that even the most important film scores have been written by Jews such as Elmer Bernstein, Bernard Herrmann, Erich Korngold, Andre Previn, Howard Shore, and Victor Young.

It is impossible to list even a fraction of the music these composers gave the film industry. Elmer Bernstein alone wrote the scores for movies from 1952 (Sudden Fear) to 2002 (Seven Women). His best-known music may well be the Western melodies he composed for movies of that type.

The truth is that from God Bless America written by the Jew Irving Berlin to To Know Him is to Love Him by Phil Spector, American music on the stage, the dance hall and on records is as Jewish as American medicine. Even now, more and more American music is being created by Jews whose genius in the music field is as great as it is in any other enterprise.

We are indeed The Chosen People.

Shalom u’vracha.

Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including Grandparents:  A New Look at the Supporting Generation (with Dr. Ursula A., Falk, 2002), & Man's Ascent to Reason (2003).

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