The Human Touch

In response to the great interest which has been aroused by the publication on this page of the woodcuts of Solomon Judovin, the Jewish Daily Bulletin wishes to announce that other work will shortly be published here.

He bellowed, he screeched, he whined; his voice piped off into a soprano that we were compelled to imagine rather than hear; he pounded with pedal foot and fortissimo finger; he threw his head back with the effort of expelling notes from a throat that was either inadequate or rebellious. He sang and he played as if he were a raging Prometheus unbound, and an ineffectual choir of angels at the same time. He was grotesque and he was magnificent. The little group of serious people were spell-bound, even if, later, they had no words with which to state the impression the music—yes, music—had made upon them. A figure appeared at an opposite window and showed its wonder at the proceedings. The Renaissance portrait of a Pope—we don’t know which one—looked on, utterly unconcerned. How could he know that this was an occasion?

It was Ernest Bloch himself, playing and singing from the manuscript of his new score, the Service for reform synagogues that he had been busy composing during the past three years. His voice was surrogate for cantor and choir; his #iano for organ, organ, and though that voice—he had heard it likened to ###e voice of a decapitated man—lacked perhaps the finish and the effortlessness of a trained singer’s, it was not difficult to perceive that Bloch has written music majestic and magnificent. He has composed two versions of the Service, one for presentation by symphony orchestra and choral group, the other, for the synagogue strictly. Although Mr. Bloch makes use of Hebrew motifs, he uses them rather than incorporates, the whole forming what I dare say is the most powerful and at the same time lyrical creation that has come from his pen. When you say that his music is equal to this text, you have implied all the praise that is possible.

It is to be sincerely hoped that those in whose hands lies the power to translate—so to speak—the manuscript copy of Mr. Bloch’s music into adequate performance in symphony hall and synagogue will not too long delay their good offices. The lack of an accepted musical score for synagogue service should be mended. The freedom of can#ors in applying to non-religious music for their themes for religious #ong has gone to rather absurd ##enghts. I recall hearing a cantor #mbroider and gargle one of the most passionate arias out of that #assionate opera, La Tosca, while #he worshippers, so called, were #arveling at their cantor’s vocal #yrotechnics. And Dr. Sonderling #ells me of hearing a cantor, a very ##amous one, now dead, using with #ery slight alteration, the Song of he Volga Boatmen, for a prayer. Of course there’s worse music, but #ith Ernest Bloch’s Service practically ready the free choice of #peratic cantors might be profitably #mited.

This advance hearing, or pre-sing, was given by Mr. Bloch six days after his fifty-third birthday. Only #is grey hair gives us a clue to his age. His vitality, his mobility, his high spirits all bespeak youth. When he laughs it is with his body, gloriously, as if he were saying: It’s good to be alive! With his cigar clamped at the right side of his mouth, and talking animatedly of this and that, with flash-like lapses into French, he gives the impression rather of a jovial, wordly European business man than a composer. Observing his face closely as he sang over again some of the passages in his Service, one could not help but wonder at the mobility and flexibility of the features. Ernest Bloch is alive and unsoured. He charges the air about him with spirit and animation.

A BIGGER MOUTHFUL

When the Nazis captured Ernst Toller, the radical novelist and playwright, they forced him to eat pages from his latest novel. In fact, it is reported, they made him consume the greater part of it; a literal eating of his own words, that was. But think how much worse Hitler’s hundreds and hundreds of pages of “My Struggle” will taste to him when they are shoved down his throat!

RAZORS AND PANACEAS

Is there something in the manufacture of razors and razor blades which leads the mind of the maker into dreams of Utopia? Mr. Robert Segal who has invented, among other objects, razors and razor blades, has recently published a book in which he has re-organized the capitalist world we live in. The book and the system, both, are called “Triopoly.” Few people are aware that King C. Gillette was also keen on re-arranging the structure of capitalist society. He published a book the title of which I cannot recall wherein he explained his point of view. In an effort to promote the sale of this work the publisher announced a prize competition. One thousand dollars was to be distributed among the five whose essays on the subject of Mr. Gillette’s book were adjudged the best. The first prize, $500, went to Stuart Chase—this was long before he became famous and well-to-do as an economist. The second prize, $250, I believe, went to Norman Thomas, and this was long before he ran for President of the United States, or tried to purify the government of the city of New York. Or he may have won the third prize of $100. What I do know is that poor me won the fourth prize of $50, and that was after I had spent the first prize in anticipation. I don’t think that thousand helped Mr. Gillette’s book, the chief purpose served was to put a thousand dollars into five pairs of more or less needy hands. At least I could make out what Mr. Gillette was writing about !

GERMAN-JEWS ALLOWED?

We are indebted to “Le Cri de Paris” for the following anecdote:

A middle-aged gentleman, comfortably, although not elegantly, dressed, presented himself, valise in hand, at an hotel near the Gard du Nord. Before asking the owner for a room, he timidly approached the concierge, and in a French which, although slow, was yet correct, asked: “Tell me, Sir, do they accept German Jews here?”

From the same source we learn that many Nazi lawyers are realizing small fortunes out of the business of providing “letters of protection.” Persecutions, arrests, aggressions and intimidations of Jews are of course frequent. It is necessary to guard against eventualities. Therefore, rich Jews, and those who aren’t rich, pay hundreds, even thousands, of marks as the price of one such letter by means of which “M.X.” (that is, the Nazi notary) declares that he knows and takes under his protection M. Untel (the Jew.) ###sion I gained at Oberammergau. IN the bookshops there was an absence of the big photograph of Hitler which is an obsession with the shopkeepers of Munich. There were the same pictures of Passion Players as of yore, the same carvings of the Crucifixion, of the disciples, and of jovial Bavarian peasants. Doubtless this village was too remote from the main trial of politics to have been touched by the German upheaval.

Next morning I asked some of the famous personalities of the Passion Play how far the Nazi revolution had affected the prospects of its performances. To each I put the question:

“Will the anti-Semitic wave in Germany react to the detriment of your play, either through official- ### The actors are selected by a committee based on the Municipal Council. Owing to the political change, a new council has to be elected. The new system of Gleichschaltung (equalization) provides that every municipal council shall be reconstituted according to the relative strength of parties after the elections of March 5th, when the Hitlerite victory swept the country.”

“And how does that work out in Oberammergau?”

“The National Socialists,” he replied quietly, “will have a majority of one on the council. The council will elect the Mayor. Then we select the players, and must go ahead at full pressure with rehearsals to make up for the time lost.”

“And the Mayor will be a Nazi?”

“Presumably that will be so.”

In response to the great interest which has been aroused by the publication on this page of the woodcuts of Solomon Judovin, the Jewish Daily Bulletin wishes to announce that other work will shortly be published here.

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