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The Most Musical NationJews and Culture in the Late Russian Empire$
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James Loeffler

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780300137132

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300137132.001.0001

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Frozen Folk Songs

Frozen Folk Songs

Modern Jewish Culture between Art and Commerce

(p.134) Chapter 4 Frozen Folk Songs
The Most Musical Nation

James Loeffler

Yale University Press

This chapter examines the fate of Yiddish writer Y. L. Peretz's so-called frozen folk songs or sounds caught between art, commerce, and technology. It discusses Russian Jewish composers' confrontation with a bewildering new world of phonograph recordings, sheet music, and other new forms of urban popular culture despite their efforts to prize folk music as the standard of national authenticity. The chapter suggests that commercial musical products offered Russian Jewish musicians both the promise of tapping unlimited new audiences and the peril of eroding aesthetic distinctions between high art and low popular culture.

Keywords:   Y.L. Peretz, frozen folk songs, Russian Jewish composers, national authenticity, new audiences, high art, low popular culture

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