NEW YORK (Nov. 13)
Dr. Israel Adler of Jerusalem, Jewish music authority, gave a performance this week of the earliest known written work of Jewish music. The 800-year-old selection was heard in public here for the first time. The 12th Century manuscript, found in the Geniza archives of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (Conservative) here, has been identified as the work of Obadiah the Norman, a former priest who converted to Judaism circa 1102. Obadiah, believed to have been an authority on church music, travelled to the Orient and spent his life among Jews after his conversion. Dr. Adler, who studied the fragment after its discovery in the Geniza, says that the manuscript not only helps understand Jewish liturgical tradition, but serves as a key to its relationship with church music, particularly the Gregorian plainsong. Dr. Adler is head of the music department and national sound archives of the Jewish National and University Library in Israel, and is director of the Jewish Music Research Center at Hebrew University.