Music, Memory and Migration in the Post-Holocaust Jewish Experience

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Music, Memory and Migration in the Post-Holocaust Jewish Experience is an international collaborative project funded by the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN), with funding for specific activities provided also by The British Academy, the Royal Musical Association and the Music and Letters Trust. It brings together the expertise and experience of scholars and practitioners based at the following institutions:

  • University of Leeds
  • Leeds College of Music
  • University of York
  • Royal Northern College of Music
  • New York University
  • Sydney Conservatorium, University of Sydney
  • The Isaac and Jessie Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies and Research, University of Cape Town
  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington DC
  • The South African Holocaust and Genocide Foundation


Project aims

  • preserving, performing, and bringing new life to Jewish music and related works created during or thought lost in the Holocaust;
  • exploring the impact of migration on music and memory/memorialization, with specific emphasis on the Holocaust’s impact;
  • stimulating the creation of new works and adaptations from contemporary scholars and practitioners, based on these works and experiences;
  • disseminating research outcomes to the wider community, particularly beyond academia;
  • engaging students and early-career researchers;
  • developing high-quality sustainable partnerships and further funding applications.

The initiative stems from a number of different activities, primarily project leader Steve Muir’s WUN Research Mobility-funded ethnographic investigation of South African Jewish choral music (Cape Town, 2012, supported by the Isaac and Jessie Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies and Research at the University of Cape Town), and also the conference of music from the Terezin concentration camp (Leeds College of Music, 2012). We hope that this initial project will pump-prime future collaborative research into these and related areas.

Whilst individual researchers have undertaken similar small-scale projects, a co-ordinated international endeavour brings richer, more diverse opportunities. For example, Jewish music in South Africa and Australia has been particularly neglected, even though substantial private collections exist there, and partnerships with scholars and organisations in those areas bring the possibility of accessing previously-unexplored sources and communities.


Collaborative expertise

The collaborators, from high-ranking organisations around the world, bring a variety of complementary contributions to the project, including:

  • archival research;
  • musicology;
  • theatrical research and practice;
  • historical research;
  • curatorial expertise;
  • musical performance expertise;
  • composition expertise.


Events and future development

The project focusses around two main events – a mid-project symposium attended by many of the project partners (provisionally planned for January 2014 in Israel), and a conference at the University of Leeds, scheduled for Summer 2014. These events provide a focus for other research activities, including individual archival and field-work visits, interim publications, meetings of various sub-groups of the project partners, individual and panel conference presentations, workshops, and pilot performances.

A fundamental objective is the fostering of new researchers, and to that end bursaries will be available for attendance at the project’s main events (details to follow). Development through new partnerships with scholars and organisations beyond the initial group, and via large external funding applications, is also key to the future sustainability of the research area. Collaborative work is particularly vital in this respect: the project teams’ combined skills and experiences enable outcomes beyond the individual capacity of each researcher alone.

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