Reconstituting Old Melodies?

Full disclosure: this is a brainstorm. It will not lead to any definitive answers, I will not follow through to any conclusions; but if you have answer to these questions, I’m open to suggestions.

Jewish musical history is filled with a lot of extraordinary music, from the likes of Salamon Sulzer, Louis Lewandowski, Marcus Hast, I.L. Mombach, Froim Spektor, I. Gottbeiter, Israel Goldfarb, Samuel Goldfarb, and others. All incredible composers of varying degrees. All treated the synagogue service with majesty and glory. Except in cases that are few and far between, when melodies stayed beloved to the congregation in communal moments, their melodies have evaporated from communal memory, save from conservatories and seminaries who study them, more as relics than as living, breathing synagogue music.

There must be another way.

There has to be a way that we can preserve, or revive, these melodies. How do we bring them back? As much as these composers would be rolling around in their graves, is there a way for us to “update” these melodies so that they can function as congregational? Can we take snippets of old melodies and reconstitute them so that they work more easily for our constituents? A lost melody no longer exists. Can we at least preserve them as art song?

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