web analytics
May 30, 2015 / 12 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


A Famed Political Pundit’s Musical Side: An Interview with Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer is widely regarded as one of the most influential political commentators in America today. A contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and The New Republic, Krauthammer is also a nightly commentator on Fox News’s Special Report with Bret Baier and a weekly panelist on PBS’s Inside Washington. Close to 250 newspapers carry his weekly column, which earned him a Pulitzer Prize in 1987.

In addition to his political prowess, Krauthammer maintains a love for Jewish music. Several years ago, he and his wife Robyn founded Pro Musica Hebraica, devoted to “bringing Jewish music to the concert hall.”

On December 2, the organization will hold a concert of cantorial masterpieces at the Eldridge Street Synagogue. The Jewish Press recently spoke with Krauthammer about the concert, among other topics.

The Jewish Press: What led you to found Pro Musica Hebraica?

Krauthammer: About eight years ago, my wife and I decided there was an area of Jewish culture that had been fairly widely neglected, and that was the presentation of great Jewish music in a classical setting. We wanted to do something to bring it out to the world.

Is the classical music Pro Musica Hebraica presents really Jewish music or just music that happens to have been composed by Jews?

The idea is to bring Jewish experience, feeling, and history – “Jewish soul,” if you like – as expressed through classical music.

So it doesn’t matter who the author is. One of our concerts a few years ago was baroque Jewish music from 17th- and 18th-century Italy and Holland. It included the famous Sephardic Jewish composer Salamone Rossi, but it also had a selection by a Jesuit priest who was a philo-Semite and who set Psalms to baroque music. He was so much of a Hebraist that he actually wrote the music from right to left when he was transcribing it.

So we don’t care about the origin of the composer although, of course, most of the music is by Jews self-consciously reflecting their own heritage, past, and memories.

Why has this music been neglected?

Well, I’ll give you one example. One of the major schools of this music was called the St. Petersburg school. Founded in 1908, this school consisted of students of Rimsky Korsakov. They were in the Russian conservatories, and their teacher basically said to them, “Why are you trying to compose Russian music? You’re Jews, compose the music of your own people.”

So they sent ethnographic expeditions into the shtetl, listened to the music, and transcribed it. That was their inspiration for composing classical music with Jewish themes – the same way that Bartok, for example, produced classical Hungarian music from Hungarian folk themes.

This school thrived for 10 years. They put on concerts all over Russia, but then the Russian revolution came in 1917, and they were all scattered to all corners of the world. Their music was largely forgotten, but we brought it back with Itzhak Perlman on the 100th anniversary of its founding to an amazing critical review in the Washington Post and tremendous public response.

This upcoming concert on December 2, though, will feature chazzanut.

Yes, it’s our first venture away from classical music towards more traditional liturgical music. It’s also our first time in New York; we’re usually in the Kennedy Center in Washington. Cantor Netanel Hershtik of The Hampton Synagogue, who is just exquisite, is performing, and the venue will be the Eldridge Street Synagogue, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary.

Cantor Netanel Hershtik

One theme that runs through this concert is redemption. It’s a theme that’s so prevalent in the liturgy that you can’t go three pages in the siddur without coming across it. I think it’s very important, particularly for those who may not be religious or aren’t even Jewish, to understand that the idea of return, restoration – the idea of Zion – is not a modern creation but a theme going back to “Im eshkacheich Yerushalayim,” which was written 2,500 years ago….

One of the reasons I wanted to do this was because when I was growing up we would spend our summer in Long Beach where, once a year, Moshe Koussevitzky would perform at one of the synagogues at the far end of Long Beach. My father would take my brother and me, and we would walk for about an hour to hear him. I have never forgotten that. It was the most moving music or religious presence.

About the Author: Elliot Resnick is a Jewish Press staff reporter and author of “Movers and Shakers: Sixty Prominent Personalities Speak Their Mind on Tape” (Brenn Books).


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

5 Responses to “A Famed Political Pundit’s Musical Side: An Interview with Charles Krauthammer”

  1. Steven Greenwald says:

    great guy!!!

  2. Pattie Hull-kahler says:

    Love Krauthammer!

  3. Charles Case says:

    I have always had a great deal of respect for him.

  4. Richard Mitchell says:

    Intelligent man. He would be a great Presidential advisor.

  5. Brian Keill says:

    From The New York Times:

    May All Your Hanukkahs Be White

    The double album “‘Twas the Night Before Hanukkah” highlights the history of Hanukkah in the United States and explores the influence of Jewish songwriters and singers on America’s Christmas canon.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
What's happened to NYC's Celebrate Israel Parade?
Israel Rejects as ‘False’ UJA Federation’s Claims about Israel Parade ‘Inclusion’
Latest Indepth Stories
Keeping-Jerusalem

For a peace treaty with the PA, half the Israeli public would agree to divide the Jerusalem

As for the president’s new, softer tone vis-à-vis Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel, this is most likely being driven by the results of the recent Israeli election.

What especially appeals to us is his grand – some critics would say extravagant –view of what the borders of Israel should look like.

There was something else of great importance in play – something we would have liked to see him take into account before deciding to stand with the boycotters.

The establishment of Hebrew University was a cause much beloved to Einstein who in 1923, during what would be his only trip to Eretz Yisrael, delivered the university’s inaugural lecture on Har Hatzofim (Mt. Scopus) and, discussing the theory of relativity, spoke the first few sentences of his address in Hebrew.

The Golden Square wanted Germany to destroy the British and Jewish presence in their country. The Third Reich craved what was beneath the ground – oil.

Ida Nudel’s account of how the Soviets persecuted and punished her was far worse than imagined.

Swim4Sadna is an annual event benefiting Sadna, an integrative special-ed community in Gush Etzion

Prof. Wistrich, was THE foremost historian of anti-Semitism; committed spokesman & advocate of Jewry

Jewish Voices for Peace’s 2015 Haggadah is a blatant anti-Israel screed crying, “L’chayim to BDS!”

On his shloshim, I want to discuss a term I’ve heard countless times about Rav Aharon: Gedol HaDor

After obsequious claims of devotion to Israel, Obama took to criticizing Israel on peace process

Mr. Obama, Israeli voters have democratically chosen to apply Israeli sovereignty over Judea&Samaria

Netanyahu so disdains Shaked’s appointment he completely ignored her after the swearing-in ceremony

More Articles from Elliot Resnick
Dr. Phyllis Chesler

Jews are an anxious group – understandably, given the millennia of persecution – and want to have no trouble.

Dr. Michael Berenbaum

Why do Jews, then, sometimes feel more intensely about Polish anti-Semitism than they do about German anti-Semitism?

Mitchell Bard is nothing if not prolific. He has written and edited 23 books, including “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Middle East” and “The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance That Undermines America’s Interests in the Middle East.” Bard, who has a Ph.D. in political science from UCLA, is also the executive director of both the […]

You have to understand that Ukraine was really a very, very Jewish place for many years.

What I think is going on here is the Midrash is making a comment about Rut’s love for Naomi being some sort of reflection of how we have to love God.

HarperCollins’s omission was especially egregious because it is a major general and educational publisher.

I said to myself, “This story has got to be told. We’re losing this generation of World War II and if we don’t listen to them now, we’ve lost it.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/a-famed-political-pundits-musical-side-an-interview-with-charles-krauthammer/2012/11/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: