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Ernest Bloch
Sacred Service
(Avodath Hakadosh)
Maurice Abravanel
Conducting the Utah Symphony & Utah Chorale
with Douglas Lawrence, baritone
Kaddish read by Rabbi Abner Bergman
1977 Capitol Records
"I am still studying my Hebrew text. I have now memorized entirely the whole service in Hebrew. I can write it in Hebrew from memory. I know its significance word by word… But what is more important I have absorbed it to the point that it has become mine and as if it were the very expression of my soul. It far surpasses a Hebrew Service now. It has become a cosmic poem, a glorification of the Laws of the Universe… the very text I was after since the age of ten, a dream of stars, of forces. I declaim out loud, amidst the rocks and forests in the great silence... the Primordial Element... before worlds existed... It has become a 'private affair' between G-d and me."

"...I am battling against notes, sounds, rhythms, to extripate out of my soul all the unexpressed music which is latent -- since centuries -- which was awaiting this marvellous text... Though intensly Jewish in its roots, this message seems to me above all a gift of Israel to the whole of mankind..." – Ernest Bloch, 1933.

A former director of the Cleveland Institute of Music, Ernest Bloch is known for his classical compositions including Jewish themed music such as Schelomo: Hebraic Rhapsody and Sacred Service.

Inspired by his friend, the Zionist poet Edmond Fleg, Sacred Service premiered in 1934. The work is over an hour long and is more or less the weekly morning Shabbat synagogue service performed as an operatic work. The mixed chorale of men and women’s voices rise and fall with mood of the different prayers. At points it is very quiet and then culminates into a blast of music, such as the Shema Yisroel passage. Towards the end, there is an English reading of part of the Torah service. The rest of the Sacred Service is in Hebrew. This performance is one of the many recorded.


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