Sephardic Songbook edited by Aron Saltiel, intro by Josh Horowitz
The Sephardic Songbook, Edition Peters, 2001 ISBN 3-87626-222-4
Update: The Sephardic Songbook (2001 ISBN 3-87626-222-4) released 10 months ago by Aron Saltiel and Josh Horowitz is just entering the second edition (the first sold out).
The Sephardic Songbook has just been released by the classical music publisher, Peters Edition, Frankfurt. It is a collection of 51 Judeo-Spanish tunes from Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece and Bosnia, collected and edited by Aron Saltiel, one of the leading exponents of the Sephardic music community and a native speaker of Ladino, with transcriptions and an extensive introduction by Josh Horowitz.
The book contains the complete texts and music of all songs in Judeo-Spanish, English and German, complete with annotations, linguistic details and information about the informants. This book has been 10 years in the making and was put together meticulously from field recordings which were made over the past 30 years.
[Note: Some of these songs are apparently covered by Ruth Yaakov, as mentioned in my review of her album, back in 1999. ari]
From: allen watsky,
Edition Peters editions are always elegant, well laid out, good paper stock etc. I'm sort of a paper fetishist, I need no encouragement to pick up another book or edition of music. This one stands out, very well presented. I have other Peters items.
The contents of the book, are really great. I actually love this music. I read through about 20 or so pages of it last night. by the time I had sight read to about page 13 page 2 of Canto de boda II, I was electrified. This material is a gift to the musical community.
The only slight problem for me is that they have a number of spots where half measures are continued on the next line. I always find that mildly annoying. Its no big deal. I am going to use this music. I especially enjoy the compound meters. Very refreshing. It would be fascinating to hear the field recordings, is that possible ?
Have I been too effusive ? Naaaaaaah... This is great stuff. Congratulations.... AW
From: "Joshua Horowitz"
Thanks for the kind words about the Sephardic Songbook Allen.
Regarding the layout solution of half measures which continue on the next line: The publisher wanted to give the text precedence when faced with the problem of splitting up the music line or the text line. I disagreed at first, but eventually saw the logic in this. If you are a singer, it is more difficult to locate the beginning of the text lines when you have several verses and the beginnings of the lines appear in the middle of the music line somewhere. As an instrumental musician, I also want to see measures kept intact, but as a singer, you want to be able to locate the verse beginnings easily, especially when there are many strophes, which is often the case in the ballads. The problems of orthography and layout presentation were thought out quite thoroughly in this edition, and the work with Peters Edition was the highest level I have yet experienced. That's why the release took so long (3 years). The enormous amount of details which need to be dealt with easily escape the reader's attention (and should!) when the finished product is presented in a simple fashion.
You may also notice the solutions to unusual forms, such as the Passover counting song, Quen Supiese y entendiense, whereby each verse increases in length - no easy problem to solve when you want to be clear in presentation and use as few explanatory notes as possible. There are also forms which have assymetrically constructed strophes, making an intelligible solution quite difficult to come by (see for instance Bre Sarica) I hope that the result pleases those who use the book and invite comments and suggestions.
Thanks again for your warm comments...Josh