Constructing history from music reportage : Jewish musical life in South Africa, 1930-1948

Behr, Annemie (2019-04)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: A Jewish cultural life in South Africa is cast by secondary literatures as being English in form and Jewish in spirit. This established understanding of a South African Jewish identity is informed by cultural analyses that focus on tensions arising from being Jewish citizens of South Africa. The present thesis draws on socio-musical sources not yet introduced to general historiographies to question this construction of Jewish identity. These sources refer to music-related items that appear in the South African Jewish Chronicle and the Zionist Record newspaper publications of 1930-1948. The purpose of subjecting music reportage in local Jewish newspapers to a rigorous content analysis, is to open understandings of Jewish culture in South Africa from wider, cosmopolitan perspectives and to locate the function that music might have had in cultural processes of identity formation. Jews exercised South African musical citizenship through supporting the forming of musical institutions, as well as through pedagogy, the performing arts and composition, representations of which align with English cultural forms in the music reportage. While also concerned with securing the Jewish position in South Africa, Zionism developed a vision of and for Palestine by translating the act of making aliyah (immigrating to Palestine) into a symbolic, musical practice. The makings of the community’s internal Jewish identity forged around tensions between Eastern European and Western European (most notably German) Jewish immigrants. Musical representations of Eastern Europe, which emanated from Russia, America and South Africa, generated a volume of content that reflected a Jewish preoccupation with Russian Jews as both ignobly backward and commendably Jewish. German Jews fell out of favour with the South African Jewish community because of their proclivity to assimilate, which could explain why they received little musical attention in these newspapers. However, engagement with contemporary events in Europe, and strong depictions of German culture in the primary source material, emanated from the United States. American musical representations reveal the degree to which the internal tensions of European Jewry were racial. The musical geographies of England, Palestine, Russia, Germany and America in a South African Jewish imaginary reveal a cosmopolitanism of Jewish whiteness and the musical vision it harboured for Palestine as a Jewish country of the West.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Sekondêre literatuur suggereer dat Joodse kultuurlewe in Suid-Afrika histories Engels in vorm en Joods in gees was. Hierdie verstaan van Suid-Afrikaanse Joodse identiteit word ingelig deur kulturele ontledings wat fokus op spannings rondom kwessies van Joodse burgerskap in Suid-Afrika. Hierdie tesis ondersoek sosio-musikale bronne om hierdie spesifieke konstruksie van Joodse identiteit in algemene geskiedenisbronne te bevraagteken. Primêre bronne van hierdie studie verwys na musiekverwante items wat verskyn in die koerantpublikasies die South African Jewish Chronicle en die Zionist Record gedurende die jare 1930-1948. Joodse musiekartikels word in hierdie tesis onderwerp aan ʼn streng inhoudsanalise met die oog daarop om Joodse kultuur in Suid-Afrika vanuit breër, kosmopolitiese perspektiewe te beskou en om die funksie wat musiek in kulturele prosesse van identiteitsvorming mag hê, te identifiseer. Jode het Suid-Afrikaanse musikale burgerskap uitgeoefen deur die stigting van musiekinstellings te ondersteun, sowel as deur middel van pedagogie, die uitvoerende kunste en komposisie. Berigte oor hierdie aktiwiteite in die musiekverslaggewing stem ooreen met wat verwag kon word van gevestigde Engelse kulturele gebruike. Sionisme was ook gemoeid met die sekuriteit van Jode in Suid-Afrika, maar het terselfdertyd ʼn visie van en vir Palestina ontwikkel deur die vereiste van immigrasie na Palestina te verander in ʼn simboliese musikale praktyk. Die gemeenskap se interne Joodse identiteit het vorm aangeneem rondom die spanning tussen Oos-Europese en Wes-Europese (veral Duitse) Joodse immigrante. Die hoeveelheid musikale beriggewing van Oos-Europa wat uit Rusland, Amerika en Suid-Afrika gekom het, weerspieël die gemeenskap se beheptheid met Russiese Jode, wie gesien was as ongesofistikeerd, dog trots Joods. Die gemeenskap se gesindheid was minder gunstig gestem teenoor Duitse Jode, vanweë laasgenoemde se neigings om te assimileer. Dit kan verduidelik hoekom Duitse Jode in die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks min musikale aandag geniet in hierdie koerante. Verslaggewing vanuit die Verenigde State in die primêre bronmateriaal toon ʼn groter belangstelling in kontemporêre gebeure in Europa, en gee ook sterk uitbeeldings van Duitse kultuurlewe in plaaslike kontekste. Amerikaanse musikale voorstellings toon die mate waartoe spannings rondom Europese Jode rasverwant was. Die geografiese gebiede van Engeland, Palestina, Rusland, Duitsland en Amerika in ʼn SuidAfrikaanse Joodse musiekverbeelding dui op ʼn kosmopolitiese grondslag van Joodse witheid en die musikale visie wat dit inhou vir Palestina as ʼn Joodse land van die Weste.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/105689
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