October 6, 2010 Music and Modern Jewish Identity in the Late Russian Empire Is Subject of Nov. 4 Book Talk

Press Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022
Public Contact: Peggy Pearlstein (202) 707-3779 | Ann Brener (202) 707-4186

The role of music in the formation of modern Jewish identity in 19th- and 20th-century Russia is the subject of a new book by James Loeffler titled “The Most Musical Nation: Jews and Culture in the Late Russian Empire” (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010).

The author will discuss the book at the Library of Congress at noon on Thursday, Nov. 4, in the African and Middle Eastern Division Reading Room, located in the Thomas Jefferson Building at 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. Sponsored jointly by the Hebraic Section of the African and Middle Eastern Division and the European Division, the event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required, but seating is limited.

In compiling the book, Loeffler drew upon a wide range of unpublished writings and archival sources from pre-revolutionary Russia to offer an insightful account of the Jewish search for a modern identity in Russia through music. His extensive research at the Library of Congress included rare Hebrew, Yiddish and Russian periodicals, manuscript collections and musical scores.

Historian James Loeffler is assistant professor of Jewish history in the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia. He also serves concurrently as research director for Pro Musica Hebraica External, an organization dedicated to bringing neglected Jewish music to the concert hall. Loeffler received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from Columbia University. He has published widely on a variety of topics, including Jewish folk- and classical- music traditions in Eastern Europe and the impact of anti-Semitism on modern Jewish culture. He recently received a postdoctoral fellowship for research on Eastern Europe and Eurasia from the American Council for Learned Societies/National Endowment for the Humanities/Social Science Research Council.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov and via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at myLOC.gov.

The African and Middle Eastern Division furthers this mission as the Library’s center for the study of some 78 countries and regions from Southern Africa to the Maghreb and from the Middle East to Central Asia. The division’s Hebraic Section is one of the world’s foremost centers for the study of Hebrew and Yiddish materials. For more information on the division and its holdings, visit www.loc.gov/rr/amed/.


PR 10-224
ISSN 0731-3527