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The Sound of the Unsayable: Jewish Secular Culture in Arnold Schönberg and Aharon Appelfeld

Department of Comparative Literature, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan 5290002, Israel
Religions 2019, 10(5), 334; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050334
Received: 9 April 2019 / Revised: 9 May 2019 / Accepted: 15 May 2019 / Published: 19 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jewish Secular Culture)
This article examines the use of central elements of the Jewish religious repertoire and transcendental realm, such as prophecy or revelation, within the aesthetic secular realm of musical avant-garde and modern Hebrew literature. By focusing on two case studies, I attempt to shed new light on the question of Jewish secular culture. Arnold Schoenberg (1874–1951), an Austrian Jewish composer, was born into an assimilated Viennese family and converted to Protestantism before returning to Judaism in the 1930s while escaping to the United States. Aharon Appelfeld (1932–2018), an Israeli Jewish writer, was born in Czernowitz to assimilated German-speaking parents, survived the Holocaust and emigrated to Israel in 1946. My claim is that in their works both composer and author testify to traumatic experiences that avoid verbal representation by: (1) subverting and transgressing conventional aesthetic means and (2) alluding to sacred tropes and theological concepts. In exploring Schoenberg’s opera Moses und Aron and Appelfeld’s Journey into Winter among others, this article shows how the transcendent sphere returns within the musical and poetic avant-garde (musical prose, 12-tone composition, prose poem, non-semantic or semiotic fiction) as a “sound” of old traditions that can only be heard through the voices of a new Jewish culture. View Full-Text
Keywords: Arnold Schoenberg; Aharon Appelfeld; religiosity; Jewish secular culture; Moses und Aron; modern Hebrew literature Arnold Schoenberg; Aharon Appelfeld; religiosity; Jewish secular culture; Moses und Aron; modern Hebrew literature
MDPI and ACS Style

Ben-Horin, M. The Sound of the Unsayable: Jewish Secular Culture in Arnold Schönberg and Aharon Appelfeld. Religions 2019, 10, 334. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050334

AMA Style

Ben-Horin M. The Sound of the Unsayable: Jewish Secular Culture in Arnold Schönberg and Aharon Appelfeld. Religions. 2019; 10(5):334. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050334

Chicago/Turabian Style

Ben-Horin, Michal. 2019. "The Sound of the Unsayable: Jewish Secular Culture in Arnold Schönberg and Aharon Appelfeld" Religions 10, no. 5: 334. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050334

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