Sara Levy's World

Sara Levy's World

Gender, Judaism, and the Bach Tradition in Enlightenment Berlin

Edited by Rebecca Cypess, Nancy Sinkoff


University of Rochester Press



A rich interdisciplinary exploration of the world of Sara Levy, a Jewish salonnière and skilled performing musician in late eighteenth-century Berlin, and her impact on the Bach revival, German-Jewish life, and Enlightenment culture.
Sara Levy née Itzig (1761-1854), a salonnière, skilled performing musician, and active participant in enlightened Prussian Jewish society, played a powerful role in shaping the dynamic cultural world of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Berlin. A patron and collector of music, she studied harpsichord with Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1710-84) and commissioned musical compositions from both Friedemann and his brother Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-88). Archival evidence demonstrates Levy's position as an essential link in the transmission of the music of their father, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), and as a catalyst for the "Bach revival" of the early nineteenth century, which was led by her great-nephew Felix Mendelssohn.

Sara Levy's World: Gender, Judaism, and the Bach Tradition in Enlightenment Berlin represents the first scholarly exploration of the cultural, political, and aesthetic contexts that shaped Levy's world. Bringing together leading scholars from the fields of musicology, Jewish Studies, history, literary studies, gender studies, and philosophy, this volume presents cutting-edge, multidisciplinary research on the numerous mutually reinforcing aspects of Levy's life and work.

Contributors: Rebecca Cypess, Marjanne E. Goozé, Barbara Hahn, Martha B. Helfer, Natalie Naimark-Goldberg, Elias Sacks, Yael Sela, Nancy Sinkoff, George B. Stauffer, Christoph Wolff, Steven Zohn

Rebecca Cypess is Associate Professor of Music at Rutgers University. Nancy Sinkoff is Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and History and Director of the Center for European Studies at Rutgers University.

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June 2018
12 black and white, 30 line illustrations
302 pages
9x6 in
Eastman Studies in Music
ISBN: 9781580469210
Format: Hardback
University of Rochester Press
BISAC MUS020000, SOC049000, SOC028000
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Experiencing Sara Levy's World
Part One: Portrait of a Jewish Female Artist: Music, Identity, Image
What Was the Berlin Jewish Salon Around 1800?
Sara Levy's Musical Salon and Her Bach Collection
Remaining Within the Fold: The Cultural and Social World of Sara Levy
Women's Voices in Bach's Musical World: Christiane Mariane von Ziegler and Faustina Bordoni
Part Two: Music, Aesthetics, and Philosophy: Jews and Christians in Sara Levy's World
Lessing and the Limits of Enlightenment
Poetry, Music, and the Limits of Harmony: Mendelssohn's Aesthetic Critique of Christianity
Longing for the Sublime: Jewish Self-Consciousness and the St. Matthew Passion in Biedermeier Berlin
Part Three: Studies in Sara Levy's Collection
Duets in the Collection of Sara Levy and the Ideal of "Unity in Multiplicity"
The Sociability of Salon Culture and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's Quartets
Appendix: The Salonnière and the Diplomat: Letters from Sara Levy to Karl Gustav von Brinckmann
List of Contributors

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