Image of woman's face with flowers in red and off-white with navy blue text Welcome to Soundscapes of Modernity: Jews and Music in Polish Cities, the companion website for Polish Jewish Culture Beyond the Capital: Centering the Periphery, edited by Halina Goldberg and Nancy Sinkoff (with Natalia Aleksiun) and published by Rutgers University Press.

This site features music of Polish Jews that is little known to American audiences—choral pieces from nineteenth-century progressive (“Reform”) congregations, compositions associated with Jewish music societies, popular music, and avant-garde works by Jewish composers. 

In keeping with the musical topic, the cover of Polish Jewish Culture Beyond the Capital: Centering the Periphery was inspired by Leon Chejfec’s image for the published score of “Rebeka,” a sentimental tango from the revue Yo-Yo, which premiered in the Morskie Oko (Sea Eye) theater in Warsaw in 1932. For interwar audiences, the actor/singer Dora Kalinówna’s rendition of the yearning for modern love by a traditional Jewish young woman epitomized the encounters between Jewish tradition and modernity of the period. The catchy song became an instant hit performed by many other artists. A photograph of Kalinówna onstage as Rebekah and an interwar performance of the song can be found here: Honoring the artistry of Chejfec and Kalinówna—as well as that of the composer, Zygmunt Białostocki, and of Andrzej Włast, the lyricist and publisher of the song, and the founder of the Morskie Oko theater—our book’s cover symbolically captures the breadth of imagination of interwar Jewish artists.

Featured Recording

We invite you to sample Soundscapes of Modernity through Izrael Fajwiszys’ evocative setting of the folk song “Her nor, sheyn meydele”: