Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Guide Kaddish in 16 Tracks

ḲADDISH (La Despidida) scoreI ran into a great article recently that I thought I'd share. Cantor Andrew Bernard writing in the Reform Jewish Magazine in the Spring 2007 issue offers an article "Sounds of Kaddish" along with a companion set of audio samples, "A Guide to Kaddish through 16 Music Tracks." The article and audio samples highlight the variety of forms and presentations of the Kaddish prayers.

To give you an idea of the article content, here's the first section. To read whole thing, go to "Sounds of Kaddish."
"When most Jews think of the Kaddish, they automatically think of the Mourner’s Kaddish, but we understand there are other forms. Could you tell us about them?

There are actually five forms of Kaddish.

Originally, Kaddish was used to conclude a time of study. This first form, known as Kaddish d’Rabbanan or the Rabbis’ Kaddish, probably dates from the Second Temple period and includes prayers for the blessing of scholars and their disciples, as well as praise of God.

The next two forms of Kaddish serve as prayer markers, telling us where we are in our liturgy. The Chatzi Kaddish—also known as Half Kaddish or, in our Reform prayer book, the Reader’s Kaddish—marks the conclusion of a particular section of the service. Kaddish Shaleim or the Full Kaddish marks the conclusion of the entire service. In this way, Kaddish migrated from the house of study to the house of prayer.

It wasn’t until much later, possibly as late as the thirteenth century, that the fourth kind of Kaddish, Kaddish Yatom or the Mourner’s Kaddish, came into the service, probably in response to the severe persecutions of Jews in Germany at the hands of the Crusaders.

The fifth form is the little-used Kaddish l’ithad’ta or Burial Kaddish. Written at the beginning of the Middle Ages, it is recited at the graveside at the time of burial. Interestingly, it is the only form of Kaddish that includes any reference to death or to resurrection."

I had great fun going through Cantor Bernard's 16 audio selections. Quite the surprising variety. Here are two of my favorites. You can hear the rest at "A Guide to Kaddish through 16 Music Tracks."

Track 1: Leonard Bernstein, Kaddish Symphony, Example I. In the first statement, a Din Torah, in which choir and orchestra present the strident, atonal theme, God is called to judgment for the terrible things going on in the world. From the CD “Kaddish Symphony,” Leonard Bernstein, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, Conductor: Gerard Schwarz, Milken Archive 8.559456, Naxos American Classics. To order click

Track 5: James Raphael, Kaddish, Example I. Raphael’s Kaddish takes the listener on a journey from mournful lament…From the CD “Kaddish” for piano, James Raphael, Ars Musici Freiberger Musik Forum 1999 AM 1282-2
Cantor Bernard also offers "The Sounds of Kaddish: Discussion & Study Guide".

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