This book presents a social history of the music of the Jewish community in Palestine from the beginnings of Jewish immigration to Palestine in 1880 to the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948. The story is a fascinating case study of a small society of immigrants and refugees who established an internationally recognized professional musical establishment against a backdrop of two world wars, the absorption of successive waves of immigrants. local skirmishes, and a full-scale national war. Though under Ottoman and later British rule, Jewish society in Palestine was virtually autonomous in cultural matters; its musical culture struggled for a balance between a tranplanted European heritage and a powerful, ideologically driven desire to find inspiration from the East. Professor Hirschberg opens with a description of music in Palestine under Ottoman rule, and then proceeds to chart the momentous history of the next 70 years in a broadly chronological framework. His final chapters centre on the broad array of ideological and social polemics which dominated the musical scene for the entire period.
As such, his book will be of interest not only to music historians (especially those interested in national schools and in twentieth-century music) but also to social historians, cultural anthropologists, and historians of contemporary Jewry.