4.61. Jeff Hamburg, orchestral composition ‘Tekiah’ (2001)

The fanfare, for which the American composer Jeff Hamburg wrote his Tekiah, is a type of wind band; compared to the American concert band, it has no flutes, oboes and bassoons, and fluegelhorns instead of clarinets. *Many fanfares were founded after the revolutionary renewal of wind instruments in the first half of the 19th century (cf. Chapter 4.60), which made the instruments more easily playable for amateur musicians. There are thousands of them in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Considered sociologically, the fanfare resembles the British brass band, because it is not attached to a school or university, but exists as an independent association with members from all age groups, up to half a century ago, mainly from the working class. A fanfare can be heard in a hall with arrangements of popular songs and film music; in a church with a choral; on a soccer field with a march; in a wind band contest; or in a serenade before the house of a couple celebrating their 50 years of marriage together. There are Roman Catholic, Protestant, and non-affiliated fanfares, but no Jewish fanfares. If a composer of classical music writes a piece for a fanfare, he shows interest in amateur music; if a fanfare performs other Jewish music than Medley from Fiddler on the Roof or Theme from Schindler’s List, they are likely to have a more than superficial interest in things Jewish.

Because the shofar is one of the ancestors of the modern brass instruments, shofar blasts are suitable musical material for a wind band like a fanfare. In Tekiah, Hamburg starts from the four traditional blasts, transforming the tekiʿah C4-G4 into the triad C4-G4-E4 *A tekiʿah is never a triad, except with a Reform makrei announcing it to the shofar blower. This performance practice can be heard in Berlinski’s Shofar Service. Cf. Chapter 4.38 and changing the order of the blasts.



Ex. 14. Jeff Hamburg, Tekiah, mm. 1-7. Maestoso, ca. 72 BPM. E♭ cornet, fluegelhorns I-III in B♭ and French horns I-IV in F. (Saxophones follow fluegelhorn parts. Cornets and trumpets in mm. 3-4 and 6 play sextuplets. Trombones and tubas in mm. 1-4 play C/D/E/G, in mm. 5-6 C/D/E/G/A, in mm. 7-8 C/E/G/A. Cymbal stroke in m. 2.). Reproduced by permission of the composer.

Hamburg does something obvious which, however, is rarely if ever done by other composers: after the exposition of the shofar blasts in their more or less traditional form, he develops them as thematic material. The tekiʿah begins in m. 2 as the triad C4-G4-G4-E4 (Ex. 14), developing in mm. 8-10 into C4-G4-G4-E4 . . . A4, and in mm. 18-23 into C4-G4-G4-E4 . . . C4-A4-G4-A4 . . . B3-C4-B4 . . . The shevarim in mm. 3-7, which consists of the upward 5ths C4-G4-C4-G4-C4-G4, turns in mm. 13-16 into C4-G4-C4-G4-C4-B♭4-A4-G4-F4-G4-E4. The teruʿah in mm. 9-10 retains its characteristic tone repetition, while taking on the pitches of the tekiʿah.

The 10-minute Tekiah has six sections and a largely symmetrical structure: sections 1 and 6 are almost similar, as well as sections 2 and 5, while sections 3 and 4 are the only ones without counterparts. Section 1 (mm. 1-22) has a Maestoso tempo of 72 BPM and a four-four meter. The tekiʿah sounds in the French horns, the shevarim in the fluegelhorns and saxophones, and the teruʿah in the trumpets and cornets.

In the thematic development of the shofar blasts in section 1, C major is harmonically enriched by added 2nds and 6ths and ends on m. 22 in bitonality with C maj7 versus D major. Section 2 (mm. 23-56) has a tempo of 84 BPM and a four-part meter; this section at first shows much movement and development of shofar blasts, and ends on static, long notes in the basses.

In the middle sections, shofar blasts do not play an important part. Section 3 (mm. 57-83) in 76 BPM and a three-part meter has melodious motifs and section 4 (mm. 84-305) in 112 BPM and a two-part meter is dance-like music; in a capricious alternation of solo and tutti, there are motifs and short themes in minor with augmented fourth and seventh degrees.

Section 5 (mm. 306-319) with its 56 BPM and four-part meter is a short and slow version of section 2. Section 6 (mm. 320-348) has the same tempo and largely the same structure as section 1; the final chord is the same as the chord in m. 22, but without F♯4, and its long, sustained sound can be interpreted as a tekiʿah gedolah.

Jeff Hamburg, who was born in Philadelphia in 1956 and has lived in the Netherlands for a long time, composed Tekiah in a period when he was searching for his Jewish roots, a period which began when he composed the music for Dibboek (1984), the Dutch translation of Anski’s play. *Hamburg, e-mail to the author, February 17, 2014. Cf. Chapter 4.10 about Anski’s play. He stated about his Klezmer Symphony (1998), which he composed for the New Amsterdam Sinfonietta:

At the time I became more and more interested in my Jewish background, and I found it an interesting challenge to see if I could combine classical music with Klezmer. . . . At some point, I found a historical recording of Klezmer music recorded between 1904 and 1910 and realised that around that time my family still lived in Eastern Europe and might have listened to this kind of music. Later, when I did more research about where my family lived, I realised, the music actually came from the same area in the Ukraine. Discovering my roots in this way led me to compose the Klezmer Symphony, or one could also say that composing ‘Klezmania’ [the final movement] led to discovering my roots. *Hamburg, Hamburg Live, CD Booklet.

Later, Hamburg intensified the search for his roots in a trip to Ukraine, which was reflected in Deborah van Dam’s documentary film Terpe Kind Mains, Terpe (“Persevere, My Child, Persevere”) in 2009. Hamburg went to Uman, 200 kilometers south of Kiev, where his grandparents had lived until they escaped the pogroms and emigrated to the United States. Uman was the last residence of the Ḥasidic master Naḥman of Bratslav (1772-1811) and this city with his grave is an increasingly popular destination for Ḥasidic pilgrims from all over the world. Terpe Child Mains, Terpe pictures the celebration of Rosh Ha-Shanah in this sacred chronotope.

Whereas sections 1-2 and 5-6 of Tekiah are based on the shofar blasts from the Rosh Ha-Shanah service, the intermediate sections 3-4 are inspired by Ḥasidic dances and niggunim. According to the musicologists Andre Hajdu and Yaakov Mazor, Ḥasidim consider dance a “sanctified action,” which can even have a special place between prayer services in the synagogue. *Hajdu and Mazor, “The Musical Tradition of Ḥasidism” 428. Niggunim were religious melodies from themes or motives the Ḥasidim had heard elsewhere in their own community or beyond. “This was looked upon as performing an almost holy mission since the borrowed melodies were thus purportedly elevated from corruption to sanctity,” states the musicologist Amnon Shiloah, who characterizes this stylization of musical material as “a process of ‘Judification’ or ‘Hasidization.’” *Shiloah, Jewish Musical Traditions 199.

Hamburg in fact follows a similar procedure; he borrows elements from East European niggunim, especially the augmented fourth and seventh degrees in the minor mode, and makes his music playable for a West European fanfare. Furthermore, he uses the traditional shofar blasts as themes, fits them into a four-part meter, fills the tekiʿah’s empty 5th C-G with the major 3rd E and gives the blasts a functional-harmonic accompaniment.

The hybrid character of Tekiah is enhanced by elements of modern film music, such as major chords with added 2nds or 6ths in the sections 1-2 and 5-6. “[I]t sounds a bit Fellini in my ears,” *e-mail to the author, February 17, 2010 Jeff Hamburg stated, thinking perhaps of the middle sections, which give the impression of a parade of picturesque characters. The opening of Tekiah shows a perhaps unintentional similarity with the opening of another film, namely William Wyler’s Ben-Hur with the music by Miklós Rózsa. *Chapter 4.35. As shown or described in Ex. 14, Tekiah begins with the sustained C major chord, a cymbal stroke, sextuplets in the trumpets, and the motif G4-F♯4-E4-G4 (real pitch) in the E♭ cornet. In Ben-Hur, the “Nativity Scene” with the two shofar blasts is followed by a trumpet fanfare with triplets, and when shortly thereafter the subtitle appears: “A Tale of the Christ / by / General Lew Wallace,” marked by a cymbal stroke and a sustained B♭ major chord, the trombones play the “Christ theme”: F4-E4-C4-D4-B♭3. *Koldys, “Miklos Rozsa and Ben-Hur” 6-7. Just as the E♭ cornet motif in Tekiah, this theme in Ben-Hur has a raised fourth degree and a Lydian mode flavor. The percussion determines the difference between the two passages; whereas church bells in Ben-Hur are used to turn the film into a new, Christian discourse after the passage with the shofar blasts, the xylophone in Tekiah accentuates the tone repetition of the teruʿah, stressing the Jewish, authoritative discourse of that blast.


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