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April 15, 1934
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It is no easy task for a Jew to write about Ernest Bloch’s “Avodath Hakodesh”–Sacred Service–and its American debut.

The writer must, to begin with, analyze not only the music but himself. How much of the thrill, the ecstasy, is ethnic rather than esthetic in origin; how much instinctive rather than discriminating?

The few words permitted me here will not suffice for any further introversive discourse. Hence:

I believe Bloch has struck a significant mid-path, wherein the wayfarer may find the tradition ##ly Jewish in spirit embellished w## the “flesh” i. e., the Idiom, of the sensitive orchestral composer in the Western tradition. There is lyric writing; the passion inherent in epic concepts; more than one moment of symphonic grandeur; an “Adonoy li v’lo iro” replete with peace, but a peace blending wonderfully into a fortissimo of triumph; a magnificent opening “Mah Tovu.”

The end seems to be a let-down from the sustained height and breadth of the opening and middle sections. The orchestra–as is undoubtedly proper–is not fully exploited. The Cantor grows perhaps somewhat pontifical in the interpolated English sermonesque recitative.

But I do not want to be carpin–I feel honored to have been invited to so glorious an event. Friedrich Schorr sang the Cantor part glowingly, richly. The composer conducted with fire and with grace. Miss Lorraine B. Eley, contralto, was of assistance. The Schola Cantorum Chorus, Hugh Ross, director, outdid itself, and the eighty Philharmonic-Symphony musicians distinguished themselves.

The largely Jewish audiences which filled Carnegie Hall for the recent Beethoven and Bach High Mass performances gave way to a predominantly Gentile throng, gathered to he## the Bloch masterpiece. If this be treason, etc….


Toscanini and the Philharmonic-Symphony paid gracious tribute to the memory of Otto H. Kahn, the age’s Maecenas, with a brooding “Marcia funbre” in Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony.

Koussevitzky, with the Boston Symphony, and Stokowski, with the Philadelphia, ended their seasons here in a blaze of glory, Koussevitzky adding an actual to the figurative blaze. But, in the midst of swirling smoke clouds, he conducted the Boston in the Tschaikowsky Fifth Symphony so expertly that even I forgot to complain about the program.

The Boston trail-blazer didn’t, however, when he introduced an arty bauble called “Evocation,” a Greco-Bostonian piece “for orchestra, women’s chorus and a speaking voice,” by ## M. Loeffier. At the very end there was an unforgettable Brahms First. But a botched Debussy “L’Apres-Midi” and a so-so Strauss “Till Eulenspiegel” marred the last week end.

Stokowski contented himself with a melodramatic version of the Beethoven Fifth, its tempi and volumes far more Stokowski than Beethoven; and three of the conductor’s Bach transcriptions, in better manner.

Hans Lange conducted the Philharmonic-Symphony while Nathan Milstein, brilliant violinist, grew emotional over Tschaikowsky’s D major concerto.

At the Bloch premiere, the Schola Cantorum chorus, Hugh Ross conducting, sang Bach’s “Erschallet, ihr Lieder” with Friedrich Schorr and the Philharmonic contingent, and the Perotinus (XIIta Century) Organum Quadruplum (Sederunt Principes) with Schorr and the Pins X Choir.

Joseph and Isidor Achron disappointed a good-sized audience with their way of treating the Kreutzer Sonata. They really know better.

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