title: Dance the Horah (medley: Hey Harmonika and Mayim, Mayim)

composer: Alkoni and Emanuel Amiram (arranged by Joshua Jacobson)

publisher: earthsongs

catalogue number:

voicing: SATB

accompaniment: piano, tof (middle-eastern drum), clarinet and flute (optional bass)

language: Hebrew

text: Alkoni and Isaiah 12:3

year of composition: c. 1950 (arranged in 1998)

timing: 2:40

recordings: The Songs of Israel

level of difficulty: moderate

description: a medley of two vibrant  dance songs from the land of Israel.

 

title: De Profundis (Out of the Depths)

composer: Arnold Schoenberg

publisher: MCA

catalogue number: 11193-062

voicing: SSATBB

accompaniment: a cappella

language: Hebrew

text: Psalm 130

year of composition: 1950

timing: 6:00

recordings: Sony 44571

level of difficulty: difficult

description: A challenging work. The chorus sometimes sings lines based on a twelve-tone row, and sometimes speaks the text in Sprechstimme.

title: Dirshu Adonai (Seek the Lord)

composer: Kenneth Lampl and Kirsten Lampl

publisher: Walton Music

catalogue number: WW1638

voicing: SSAATTBB, SATB soli

accompaniment: a cappella

language: Hebrew

text: Psalm 105

year of composition: 2016

timing: 5:30

recordings: https://youtu.be/IGjw4q1M6zc

level of difficulty: medium

description (from the publisher's website): A sensitively composed meditation that reminds us to "Seek the Lord and his strength." A beautifully rich harmonic structure. The echoing solo quartet illustrates the fact that these words reach back throughout time and space.

 

title: Dodi Li (My Lover is Mine)

composer: Nira Chen (arranger Joshua Jacobson)

publisher: World Music Press

catalogue number: WMP 017

voicing: SATB

accompaniment: clarinet, flute, percussion

timing: 3:30

language: Hebrew (alternate English)

text: after Song of Songs 3:6, 4:9, 4:16, 6:3.

year of composition: c. 1950 (arranged in 1992)

recordings: The Songs We Sang (HZ-906)

level of difficulty: moderate

description: When European Jews began to return to the land of Israel at the beginning of the twentieth century, they were determined to create an ideal new life, based on the ancient Hebrew civilization. Among the manifestations of this new life-style was a body of popular secular songs whose texts were taken from the Old Testament and whose melodies were in tune with the rhythms and scales of the Middle East. Nira Chen's Dodi Li provides an excellent example. The text is taken from the greatest Biblical love song, the Canticle of King Solomon. The exoticism of the melody is reinforced by the repeated horah rhythm and the modality, vacillating between Dorian and Aeolian. In this arrangement, the amorous quality of the text is the springboard for a sensuous interpretation. The tempo is slow and languid, the dynamics expressive.

 

title: Dona, Dona

composer: Sholom Secunda (arranged by Joshua Jacobson)

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 992057

voicing: SATB      

accompaniment: piano

language: Yiddish

text: Aaron Zeitlin

year of composition: 1940, arranged in 1996

timing: 2:25

recordings: An Hour in the Garden of Eden

level of difficulty: moderate

description: Originally composed for the 1940 Yiddish musical, Esterke, this song was made famous to American audiences in Joan Baez’s popular 1965 recording.

 

title: Durme, Durme (Sleep, Sleep)

composer: Yehezkel Braun (arranger Joshua Jacobson)

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 982012

voicing: SSATBB

accompaniment: piano

timing: 2:00

language: Ladino

text: traditional

year of composition: 1981

recording: Sepharad 92 (HZ-903)

level of difficulty: moderate

description: In 1981 Israeli composer Yehezkel Braun composed “Seven Sephardic Romances,” a song cycle for soprano and piano. This work was based on love songs from the ancient traditions of Jews who lived in Spain prior to the sixteenth century. The Ladino language is a jargon combining elements of Castilian Spanish and Hebrew, with the former predominating. In 1990 Joshua Jacobson arranged the entire cycle for mixed chorus. In “Durme, Durme” a troubadour sings to his beloved. The arrangement is not difficult, but does call for the choir to divide into six parts. The entire suite(Don Amadi, Esta Rakhel, Nani Nani, Durme, Por que Llorax, Di me Rozina, Morenica)  is available from Transcontinental.

 

title: Enosh Kechotzir Yomov (Human Life is Brief)

composer: Louis Lewandowski

publisher: Broude Brothers

catalogue number: CR 65

voicing: SATB

accompaniment: organ

language: Hebrew (English alternate)

text: Psalm 103:15 - 17

year of composition: c. 1882

timing: 4:30

recordings: The Majesty of Holiness, The Songs Live On

level of difficulty: moderate

description: One of Lewandowski’s most moving compositions, this work, written for a memorial service, describes the ephemeral nature of human life in poignant tones. Similar in style to Mendelssohn. An orchestration is available from Transcontinental Publications.

 

title: Erev Shel Shoshanim (Evening of Roses)

composer: Joseph Hadar (arranger Jack Klebanow)

publisher: World Music Press

catalogue number: WMP 03

voicing: SATB

accompaniment: piano

timing 3:15

language: Hebrew

text: Moshe Dor

year of arrangement: 1986

recordings: The Songs We Sang (HZ-906)*

level of difficulty: easy

description: “Erev Shel Shoshanim” is an Israeli song, conceived in a “folk” style, and tremendously popular both in Israel and the Diaspora in the 1960s. The text of this secular love song is a paraphrase of verses from the Biblical Song of Songs, in which the poet entreats his lover to join him in the fragrant garden for an “Evening of Roses.” This one is quite easy to learn, and has achieved great popularity among U.S. high-school choirs; the tempo is slow, the meter remains quadruple, the mode is Dorian, and voice parts are simple. The trick here is to perform the work with a warm tone and expressive legato phrasing.

 

title:  Esther

composer: Cristiano Giuseepe Lidarti

publisher: IMI

catalogue number: 7259

voicing: SAB chorus, SSTT soli

accompaniment: chamber orchestra

language: Hebrew

text: Jacob Saraval

year of composition: 1774

timing: 88 minutes

recordings: (excerpts on Italia!) available from IMI

level of difficulty: moderate

description: In 1774, Giuseppe Lidarti composed an oratorio in Hebrew based on the biblical story of Queen Esther, as recast in a libretto by the Venetian rabbi Jacob Raphael Saraval. It was probably commissioned by the Jews of Amsterdam, but was certainly performed in Italy as part of the tradition of presenting musical theater for the festival of Purim. This work had been lost until its rediscovery several years ago by Prof. Israel Adler.

 

title: Ets Chayim Hi (It Is a Tree of Life)

composer: Robbie Solomon

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 993171

voicing: SATB

accompaniment: (optional piano)

language: Hebrew

text: liturgy

year of composition:

timing:

recordings:

level of difficulty: easy to moderate

description: A sweet setting of the liturgy that ends the Torah service. “The Torah is a tree of life to all those who cling to her.”

 

title: Even When God Is Silent

composer: Michael Horvit

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 991348

voicing: SATB (also for SSAA or TTBB)

accompaniment: a cappella

language: English

text: anonymous

year of composition:

timing: 2:25

recordings: The Songs Live On

level of difficulty: moderate

description: The anonymous poem was written by a victim of the Nazi Holocaust. The luminous setting reflects the optimism of the lyrics.

 

title: Five Hebrew Love Songs

composer: Eric Whitacre

publisher: Walton

catalogue number: WJMS1038

voicing: SATB (S solo and narrator)

accompaniment: piano and violin or string quartet

language: Hebrew

text: Hila Plittman

year of composition:

timing: 9:40

recordings: Albany Records

level of difficulty: challenging

description: These choral gems were inspired by five Hebrew poems written by Whitacre’s girl friend (now wife), Hila Plittman. The romance can be felt in every measure. Includes a breath-taking aleatoric section in the fourth movement.

 

title: Four Motets

composer: Paul Schoenfield

publisher: E.C. Schirmer (ECS Publishing)

catalogue number: 6970

voicing: SATB (divisi)

accompaniment: a cappella (keyboard for rehearsal only)

language: Hebrew

text: Psalm 86

year of composition: 1995

timing: 12:00

recordings:

level of difficulty: challenging

description: The composer describes these as “neo-renaissance motets.”

 

title: Ha’Ir Mesacheket Machavo'im (The City Plays Hide and Seek)

composer: Avni, Tsvi

publisher: IMI (distributed in the USA by Theodore Presser)

catalogue number: IMI 6587 (Presser 512-00492)

voicing: ssa

accompaniment: a cappella

language: Hebrew

text: Amichai, Yehudah

year of composition: 1986

timing: 5:00

recordings: Jerusalem 3000

level of difficulty: challenging

description: This mystical piece celebrates Jerusalem as the home of many peoples and many faiths. There is a tonal center, but several chromatic modes are used.

 

title: Ha-Kotel (The Wall)

composer: Dov Seltzer (arranged by Joshua Jacobson)

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 991452

voicing: SATB

accompaniment: piano (optional electric bass)

language: Hebrew

text: Y. Gamzu

year of composition: arranged in 1993

timing: 3:25

recordings: The Songs of Israel

level of difficulty: moderate

description: A touching song describing the remaining “wall” of the ancient Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. “Some men have a heart of stone, but some stones have a human heart.”

 

title: Half Kaddish (Santification, shorter form)

composer: Jack Gottlieb

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 983012

voicing: SATB

accompaniment: piano (or brass ensemble)

language: Aramaic (or English)

text: liturgy

year of composition:

timing: 2:15

recordings: Jewish Composers in America

level of difficulty: challenging

description: An energetic setting of the Jewish doxology by Leonard Bernstein’s musical assistant. The driving Bernsteinian rhythms give this composition an exciting edge. The modes are somewhat challenging, as is the rapid articulation of the text.

 

title:  Hal’luhu (Praise Him)

composer: Benjie-Ellen Schiller

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 991280

voicing: SATB (solo soprano)

accompaniment: piano or guitar and tof (hand drum)

language: Hebrew

text: Psalm 150

year of composition: c. 1987

timing: 2:40

recordings: Jewish Composers in America

level of difficulty: moderate

description: This vibrant setting of Psalm 150 has syncopated horah-like rhythms, mixed meter, and an exotic Mixolydian modality.

 

title: Halleluyah

composer: Salamone Rossi

publisher: Broude Brothers

catalogue number: CR-25

voicing: SATB

accompaniment: a cappella

timing:  2:30

language: Hebrew (alternate English)

text: Psalm 146

year of composition: 1982

recordings: ROSSI (HZ-910)

level of difficulty: moderate

description: Salamone Rossi (c. 1570 - c.1630) was a Mantuan violinist and composer in the employ of Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga. He was also the first composer to publish a collection of polyphonic motets for the synagogue. The thirty-three motets, set for three to eight voices, include psalms, hymns and prayers for synagogue services or for sacred concerts. “Halleluyah” is included in the liturgy for Sabbath and festival morning services. Rossi’s setting is largely homophonic, similar in style to church music composed by his Christian colleagues.

 

title: Halleluyoh

composer: Drechsler, Joseph

publisher: Broude Brothers

catalogue number: CR 64

voicing: satb

accompaniment: a cappella

language: Hebrew (optional English text)

text: Psalm 150

year of composition: c. 1865

timing: 1:40

recordings: The Majesty of Holiness

level of difficulty: moderate

description: Salomon Sulzer, the famed cantor of the Seitentettengasse Synagogue in Vienna for most of the nineteenth century, commissioned this work from Joseph Drechsler, the renowned kappelmeister of St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The music is succinct but charming, homophonic and rather easy to master.

 

title: Halleluyoh

composer: Louis Lewandowski

publisher: Broude Brothers

catalogue number: CR-74

voicing: SATB

accompaniment: organ (or piano)

language: Hebrew or English

text: Psalm 150

year of composition: ca. 1882

timing: 2:40

recordings: The Majesty of Holiness

level of difficulty: moderate

description: A majestic anthem by the famed choirmaster of the Oranienburgerstrasse synagogue in Berlin, this rousing work has long been a favorite.

 

title: Halleluyoh

composer: Salomon Sulzer

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 982020

voicing: SATB, baritone solo

accompaniment: harp and organ (or string orchestra)

language: Hebrew

text: Psalm 111

year of composition: published in 1838

timing: 6:30

recordings: Majesty of Holiness

level of difficulty: moderate

description: This work was composed for a (non-liturgical) concert performance, commemorating the birthday of the Emperor Joseph I. A jubilant choral “Hallelujah” frames a slower middle section, set antiphonally between the cantor and choir. There is even a brief cadenza for the harp.

 

title: Hamisha Asar (Fifteen)

composer: Flory Jagoda (arranged by Nick Page)

publisher: Boosey & Hawkes

catalogue number: OCTB7078

voicing: SATB (a version for SSA is also available)

accompaniment: piano

language: Ladino

text: Flory Jagoda

year of composition: song © 1993. arrangement © 1999.

timing: 2:30

recordings: YouTube

level of difficulty: easy to moderate

description: Flory Jagoda has made her life's mission the perpetuation of the Sephardic culture of her native Bosnia. The Ladino langauge melds an old Spanish dialect with Hebrew words. The melody uses a Middle Eastern mode similar to Phrygian but with an augmented second between the second and third degrees of the scale, and the music moves in a lively tempo and a rollicking 7/8 meter. The arrangement progresses from unison to two-part and finally four-part homophonic texture. The subject of this song is the celebration of the festival of the trees on the fifteenth day (full moon) of the Jewish month of Sh'vat (usually occuring some time in January).

 

title: Hanukah Tarantella

composer: David Polansky

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 982035 (SA version is 982083)

voicing: SATB (or SA)

accompaniment: piano

language: English

text: David Polansky

year of composition: 1992

timing: 3:50

recordings: Zamir 25

level of difficulty: moderate, somewhat challenging

description: Polansky is best known for his songs for children. But this tarantella is sure to appeal to children of all ages. With Tom-Lehrer-like cleverness, Polanksi exhausts every possible (and impossible) rhyme for the word “Chanukah.” It’s a hoot!

 

title: Hashkivenu (Let Us Lie Down in Peace)

composer: Bernstein, Leonard

publisher: Boosey & Hawkes

catalogue number: M051467259

voicing: SATB div, T solo

accompaniment: organ

language: Hebrew

text: Friday evening synagogue liturgy

year of composition: 1945

timing: 6:30

recordings: Naxos (Leonard Bernstein: A Jewish Legacy)

level of difficulty: challenging

description: This early work by Bernstein is a setting of the evening prayer for peace, commissioned by New York’s Park Avenue Synagogue. In ternary form, the outside sections in the Phrygian mode in flowing triple time, stand in sharp contrast with the highly syncopated Lydian middle section.

 

title: Hava Nagila (Let Us Rejoice)

composer: folk (arranged by Daniel Faktori)

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 993137

voicing: SATB

accompaniment: a cappella

language: Hebrew

text: Moshe Nathanson or Abraham Idelsohn

year of composition: 1911 (?)

timing: 2:00

recordings: The Songs of Israel

level of difficulty: moderate

description: With a melody derived from a Hassidic niggun, and quintessential Zionist lyrics, “Hava Nagila” song has come to be the most well-known Israeli song. Faktori’s arrangement brings the rhythms to life in a delicate madrigalesque way.

 

title: Hayoshevet Baganim (The Girl in the Garden)

composer: Nissim Cohen Havron (arranged by Aryeh Levanon)

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 993123

voicing: SATB

accompaniment: tof

language: Hebrew

text: Song of Songs 8:13-14

year of composition: 1960 (arrangement)

timing: 2:30

recordings: The Songs We Sang

level of difficulty: moderate

description: A simple but very effective setting of a popular Israeli dance song. The arrangement is in ABA form, fast-slow-fast.

 

title: Hitragut (Serenity)

composer: folk (arranged by Paul Ben-Haim)

publisher: Transcontinental

catalogue number: 991760

voicing: SATB (optional soprano solo)

accompaniment: a cappella

language: Hebrew

text: Yehuda Karni

year of composition:

timing: 3:40

recordings: Zamir 25

level of difficulty: easy to moderate

description: This gorgeous little serenade is based on an older Sephardic folk song. Its three strophic verses are set homophonically. For variety, the third verse may be sung by a soprano soloist while the choir hums their parts

 

title: Hodu Ha-Arets (Give Thanks, O Earth)

composer: Cristiano Lidarti (edited by Joshua Jacobson)

publisher: self-published

catalogue number: N/A

voicing: SATB 

accompaniment: piano

language: Hebrew

text: Rabbi Jacob Raphael Saraval

year of composition: 1774

timing: 2:10

recordings: Italia

level of difficulty: easy to moderate

description: This is the final joyous chorus from Ester, an oratorio by Lidarti in the classical style. The Hebrew libretto is actually a translation of the libretto that Handel used for his oratorio, Esther. 

Titles D-H    Recommended Jewish Choral Music