Milan (May. 25)
A spirited ovation greeted the production of Ernest Bloch’s “Avodath Hakodesh” at the premiere of the symphonic season of the Scala di Milano.
Bloch himself conducted the “Sacred Service,” which is a setting of the reformed Sabbath morning liturgy for baritone, chorus and orchestra. The performance marks the beginning of the new concert and opera season in European capitals.
The service was presented at Carnegie Hall, New York, on April 21, and was greeted by the American audience enthusiastically.
The purpose for composing this music was expressed by Bloch several weeks ago when he declared, “I wanted to express the wish that man may liberate himself from hate, prejudice, dark instincts, regression, all that lowers him and prevents him from seeing the truth, from going forward, from rising above himself.”
Bloch began work on the music in 1930, having been commissioned by Gerald F. Warburg, son of Felix Warburg. The family of Jacob and Rosa Stern set aside a fund of $100,000 to provide an income for the composer.
Bloch studied Hebrew and started the work in a little village in Switzerland. The work, completed in 1932, won immediate acclaim at its preliminary Rome performance.