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September 21, 1984 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-09-21

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Friday, September 21 1 1984 THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS


Continued from Page 104

Julius Chafes is opening the 45th season of
the Center Symphony Orchestra and
marking his 50th anniversary as a
composer of Jewish music.

University. He was lucky. Other
Chajes relatives were not.
All our relatives, two sisters and
a brother of my father, two brothers of
my mother, they all went to Auschwitz
— killed — and the children and the
children's children. Nobody remained
alive," Chajes sadly remembers. -
After living in Palestine for two
years, Chajes returned to Vienna for
one more year to prepare to immigrate
to the United States with his most re-
cent music teachers, Hedwig and
Moriz Rosenthal. He wrote an article
in Vienna's Jewish paper urging all
Jews to leave. Even today there's a
tone of helplessness in his voice:
"People didn't believe that Hitler
would come to Vienna. I know people
who committed suicide on the day Hit-
ler entered Vienna because they told
me it was impossible because Musso-
lini and Chamberlain said they would
not let Hitler come to Vienna."
During the two years Chajes spent
in Palestine he was in charge of the
piano department of the Beit Leviim
music school in Tel Aviv, conducted a
male chorus and did extensive re-
search on ancient Hebrew music in
Jerusalem. This two-year hiatus wit-
nessed a complete change in his style
of composition and though his stay in
the Holy Land was brief, he is consis-
tently listed in musical texts as an Is-
raeli composer.
"Having had my musical educa-
tion in Vienna, I became part of that
culture," Chajes says, "like all the Au-
strian Jews. When I arrived in Pales-
tine in 1934 I felt the cultural clash
between Jewish and West European
culture of which Chaim Potok so often

speaks. While he discusses Jewish Or-
thodoxy versus Western civilization, I
faced the opposite: coming from an as-
similated home and facing traditional
And so, Chajes, who had never
been bar mitzvah, searched for and
found his roots . . . in music.
"I discovered that the only Jewish
music that existed, aside from syna-
gogue music, was popular music,
which seen from the culural
standpoint of European music, was
low-class music! A new scale, a new
idiom had to be created, what we call
today the 'Eastern Mediterranean
Style.' . . . The only great Jewish com-
poser who devoted a few years to writ-
ing Jewish music was Ernest Bloch. I
knew that all the great Jewish com-
posers such as Mendelssohn, Offen-
bach, Malher and Schoenberg were
baptized and deserted Judaism and
the few who were not such as Meyer-
beer, Goldmark, Milhaud and others
were not interested in their own back-
ground. I took it upon myself to become
a pioneer of this type of music. I con-
sider this my major contribution and a
fulfillment of my ambition of 50 years
More than 70 of Chajes' works
have been published over the last 50
years by the Transcontinental Music
Publishers in New York. Included are
orchestral compositions, chamber
music, choral works, compositions for
solo instruments, songs and an opera.
The opera Out Of The Desert, was writ-
ten in 1966. The story of the Jews'
exodus from Egypt, it was commis-
sioned by and performed twice at
Temple Israel and performed once by



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