Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Musical history of Maftirim

The Ottoman Yeni Cani imperial mosqueNextbook.Org reporter Daniel Estrin did a nice feature recently on Maftirim, interviewing Professor Edwin Seroussi, director of the Jewish Music Research Center at Hebrew University.
"In Turkey and Greece, as far back as the 16th century, groups of cantors and religious figures used to gather in the early morning, before prayer services, to sing devotional poetry in Hebrew. This gave rise to a distinct and complex form of music called maftirim, which only the most talented men could master.

These small gatherings were part of a broader musical exchange under the Ottoman empire: Muslim Sufi mystics would come to synagogue on the Sabbath to listen to the maftirim. And the Jewish maftirim singers would visit Sufi lodges for musical inspiration."
Here is a short snippet to give you an idea of what maftirim sounds like. The recording is of Isaac Algazi singing the Yichlah Michmaim Mafterim.

To hear the report, go to NextBook. If you can read Hebrew, you can read the article ""The Tradition of singing of the Maftirim in Turkey"" by Professor Seroussi.


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