Posts tagged: Jewish Music

Recorded Sound Archives at FAU Libraries

By , July 19, 2010 8:36 pm

Historic sound snapshot from our past.

Visually stunning picture records, historic radio transcriptions such as President Roosevelt’s speech to the U.S. Congress following Pearl Harbor, and hundreds of original recordings by Italian tenor Enrico Caruso are among the treasures being inventoried at the new Recorded Sound Archives at Florida Atlantic University Libraries.

These relics of the recording industry are among an estimated 50,000 vintage records that were recently donated to FAU Libraries and used to create its “Vintage 78s Collection.” The records, along with extensive holdings of Jazz recordings and Judaic music, inspired FAU libraries to recently establish the Recorded Sound Archives with more than 150,000 phonograph records and other sound recordings.

“This makes us one of the top 20 libraries in the nation for sound recordings,” said Dr. William Miller, dean of Libraries at FAU. “People know….that we are a library interested in rare and historic recordings.”

Unpacking the recent donation of tens of thousands of recordings from the estate of Cleveland collector Jack Saul has been daunting, but with the help of staff and volunteers, the materials are being digitized and eventually will be available on FAU Libraries’ website.

The Recorded Sound Archives has three major collections:

(1) Vintage 78s Collection: Early disc recordings were dubbed 78s, referring to their playing speed of 78 revolutions per minute, and were produced between 1901 and the mid-1950s. Music, speeches, radio transcriptions and even movie soundtracks were produced on 78 rpm records.

(2) Jazz Collection:  The Recorded Sound Archives is creating an inventory of the more than 20,000 jazz recordings donated by Dr. Henry Ivey in 2006 and later transferred to the library from FAU’s Department of Music. Volunteers are currently entering information about the recordings into a database so that musicians and others will be able to easily search for what they want.

(3) Judaica Sound Archives:  The Judaica Sound Archives (JSA), created in 2005, established FAU Libraries as an international leader in the collection and digitization of early phonograph recordings. It now boasts a collection of more than 15,000 non-duplicated recordings. Its website offers listeners over 11,000 songs in English, Hebrew and Yiddish.

Mitzvah project yields recordings for JSA

By , January 11, 2010 3:33 pm
Ariana Goldstein recieves recognition plaque from Nathan Tinanoff on the completion of her Mitzvah Project

Ariana Goldstein recieves recognition plaque from Nathan Tinanoff on the completion of her Mitzvah Project

You might think that since the donation of Jack Saul’s enormous collection of recordings that the JSA would be less than eager to receive even more Judaica recordings.  BUT. You would be wrong!

Ariana Goldstein, a student at Woodland Middle School in Gurnee, IL. is a music lover and musician who plays trumpet, bass guitar and acoustic guitar. As she prepared for her Bat Mitzvah she wanted a Mitzvah Project that would reflect her interest in music and her desire to do something meaningful.

Ari contacted the JSA to see if there was any way that she could help us to preserve the recorded music heritage of the Jewish people. “There are still so many recordings out there and we worry that people do not appreciate their historical and cultural value. Do you think you could try to find recordings and send them to us?” we asked her. She took on the challenge.

Ariana had her  Bat Mitzvah at the Beth Hillel Temple in Kenosha, WI on October 17, 2009.  She had accumulated about 100 recordings that she intended to donate to the JSA. On the evening of December 24, 2009 she and her parents arrived in Boca Raton after a 9 hour car ride. They were tired and they were weary, but they wanted to hand deliver the recordings to us. Although the University was closed at the time, we obtained permission to meet them at the Wimberly Library to accept Ari’s donation.

Ariana started her search for recordings with her grandparents and their friends. Sure enough, many of them had recordings which they did not need or want. Some people could not even listen to the songs because they no longer owned phonograph players.

“What was the hardest part of locating the recordings?”  I asked her.

Susan Goldstein, Ari’s mother, explained. “The Newberry Library in Chicago has a book and record sale every year. We went there and Ari sorted through boxes and boxes of recordings looking for the ones she could rescue and bring here.”

“That was really hard!” Ari exclaimed. “Also we got some records from the temple and other people we knew.” she added.

Ari and Ben Goldstein admire vintage Victrola at JSA

Ari and Ben Goldstein admire vintage Victrola at JSA


Nathan Tinanoff, Director of the JSA, led the Goldstein family on a tour of the Judaica Sound Archives and awarded Ariana a special “JSA Record Label” plaque in recorgnition of her hard work, the completion of her Mitzvah Project and her contribution to the JSA.

He told the Goldstein family, “These recordings are very important to us. They will be incorporated into our collection.”

It is good for us to remember the past and to cherish our cultrual accomplishments.  Yet, the generations to come are the ones who will eventually benefit the most from the cultural treasure which is their legacy.



Jewish music in the news

By , January 8, 2010 11:09 am
  • December 29, 2009:  The large donation of recordings to FAU Libraries from Jack Saul’s private collection sparked interest in the Judaica Sound Archives and resulted in the following  newspaper article by Lona O’Connor, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Alethea packingThe Judaica Sound Archive is accustomed to receiving large donations of old recordings. But its latest bequest — 10,000 records — arrived in an 18-wheel trailer truck.

The 7-year-old musical archive, part of Florida Atlantic University’s library, has a lot of cataloging to do in the next few months, because another 18-wheeler will arrive as soon as the snow melts . It will carry at least twice as many recordings — all from the late Jack Saul, a Cleveland furniture store owner whose collection may have amounted to as many as 300,000 recordings at its peak.

The Saul contribution will add about 60,000 recordings, including a few unique examples, to the FAU archive, already one of the largest in the world.

The sound archive is run by Nat Tinanoff and Maxine Schackman, who, aided by tech-savvy volunteers and students, have made 10,000 songs from the archive’s collection available online to the public. The archive contains religious, folk and children’s music, theater and music-hall performances. Click here for full text.

  • December 31, 2009:  The following editorial in the Palm Beach Post explains the importance of the work that is being done by the Judaica Sound Archives.

In the larger scheme of things, the dedication of the employees of the Judaica Sound Archive at Florida Atlantic University isn’t earth-shattering. It doesn’t change Florida, the way oil drilling off the coast would. It doesn’t build houses or end foreclosures or reinvigorate the economy.

But it alters Florida just the same, adding a twist of culture to a state that too often is criticized for sterile shopping malls, cookie-cutter houses and cultural voids.

We mention the dedication of employees Nat Tinanoff and Maxine Schackman, aided by volunteers and students, because it was their dedication that persuaded a Cleveland furniture store owner and record-collector extraordinaire to donate to the archives 60,000 record albums for preservation. As The Post’s Lona O’Connor reported Wednesday, thanks to these workers, the mountain of wax recordings preserving the music of the past will be catalogued and digitized so that they can remain far into the future.

Jack Saul, who died in May at 86, picked FAU’s sound archive specifically because he saw that it would preserve his collection. He once had been burned, giving away 200,000 recordings to an organization that later sold them. Mr. Tinanoff estimates that it will take five years to inventory Mr. Saul’s collection. He expects to make 4,000 compact discs available to students. The collection includes an album of Fanny Brice singing to children and a fantasy cantata about the Brooklyn Dodgers by opera singer Robert Merrill.

It’s a cultural bonus Florida would not have, if not for the dedication of the Judaica Sound Archive’s employees. Click here for full text.

  • January 6, 2010: The Jewish Forward recognized the importance of recorded Jewish music for musicians and others who cherish Jewish culture in this article by Ezra Glinter.

sapoznik forward article 1.6.10It’s a truism of traditional music that in order to go forward, you have to go back. To innovate on old material, you have to know the old material in the first place.

But in the case of Yiddish music, there’s often not much to go back to. During the heyday of Yiddish culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, klezmer melodies, Yiddish theater tunes and cantorial music were popular entertainments for Jews from Warsaw to New York. But with the Holocaust in Europe and the rapid assimilation of Jewish immigrants in America, that culture went away as quickly as it had come. For musicians today who want to learn the Yiddish repertoire, finding a living link to that centuries-old musical tradition is nearly impossible.

But there is another way. Between 1898 and 1942, some 6,000 78-rpm recordings of Jewish music were produced in the United States, and some 5,000 in Europe. When Jewish musicians in the 1970s revived the Yiddish music that had largely disappeared after the Second World War, it was to those recordings that they turned.

“If it weren’t for these historic recordings, there wouldn’t have been a klezmer revival,” said producer Henry Sapoznik, executive director of Living Traditions, a Yiddish arts organization that produces the annual weeklong KlezKamp in Kerhonkson, N.Y. “Of every traditional music scene, whether it’s Balkan or Greek or blues or early jazz, the only one that relied completely on using 78s as a style and repertoire model was the klezmer scene. . . . ”

Florida Atlantic University’s Judaica Sound Archives has been collecting Jewish music of all kinds since 2002, and provides much of it in streaming format on its Web site and more through research stations located in libraries throughout the United States, Canada, Israel and the United Kingdom. Click here for full text.

The trail of our vinyl

By , December 18, 2009 3:49 pm

Josh Kun__SS500_

I was listening to my local public radio station while I was driving to work the other day. Roger Bennett, co-author of And You Shall Know Us By the Trail of Our Vinyl, was talking with Marco Werman about his attempt to save decades of American Jewish music from obscurity.

We, at the JSA, are very proud of our participation in helping Roger and his co-auther, Josh Kun to find materials that eventually found its way into their wonderful book.

Even though he didn’t mention us by name, we knew who Roger was talking about when he mentioned visiting Boca Raton, Florida, “where old Jewish vinyl goes to die.” When JSA Director, Nathan Tinanoff listened to the interview he told me, “He got that wrong! The JSA isn’t where old Jewish vinyl goes to die.  It is where it goes to be reborn!”

The book is a wonderful compendium of stories, information, photos, and album covers from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.

Josh Kun, Associate Professor of communication and journalism at USC Annenberg School for Communication and the author of Audiotopia: Music, Race, and   America, which won a 2006 American Book Award, co-authored the book with Roger Bennett who also co-authored Bar Mitzvah Disco.

The authors write about how they “encountered the Judaica Sound Archives of Florida Atlantic University, where Nathan Tinanoff and his devoted staff generously opened their collection to us.”  And where they found “thousands of LPs, shelf after shelf filled with dsicarded cardboard and vinyl that we gushed over like scientists marveling at new speciments” (p.17).

Looking through the book is an education and a trip down memory lane. From Steisand to Bagels and Bongos by the Irving Fields Trio, from Molly Pecon to the Four Bursteins, from Neil Sedaka to Theodore Bikel, the names and images pop off the pages.

The following JSA featured performers are highlighted in the book: Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt, Oysher-Michaels Family, Benny Bell , The 4 Bursteins, Gladys Gewirtz, Shimon & Ilana Gewirtz, Gadi Elon.

A friend of mine who loves the book told me that when she goes on the JSA website it is like the “book comes to life” right on her computer. I can’t think of a nicer compliment.

JSA finds more hidden treasures in Cleveland

By , December 2, 2009 5:01 pm
Ben Roth-Aroni looking for treasures in a hidden closet

Ben Roth-Aroni looking for treasures in a hidden closet

After his visit to Cleveland in October 2009 to look at the additional recordings that Jack Saul’s family had discovered in the furniture store and in a “hidden closet” in the family’s home, Nathan Tinanoff, director of the JSA at FAU Libraries,  said, “I could see right away that this was going to be a big job.” Last week he returned with Ben Roth and Alethea Perez, two JSA employees who offered to help pack the rest of the phonograph recordings that were earmarked for Florida Atlantic University Libraries in Boca Raton, FL.

Although the JSA team had packed about 30,000 recordings in September 2009, there was still a lot to do. The JSA team made a plan of attack.

Day 1: Explore the “hidden closet” in the house and determine which recordings would be shipped to FAU Libraries. Complete the packing of recordings in the house which had been identified but not packed during the previous visit.

Day 2: Explore the previously undiscovered basement of the furniture store to identify recordings for shipment to FAU. Pack as many of the recordings as possible.

Day 3: Pack as many recordings as possible.

The team was excited by what they found. Recording treasures and vintage 78 rpm recordings had been tucked away into every nook and cranny. Jack Saul’s enormous collection which had become disorganized and cluttered throughout his home and place of business were in the process of becoming a valuable research tool for teachers, students and scholars.

Ben Roth in front of store with folded boxes

Ben Roth in front of store with folded boxes

FAU Libraries has already unpacked almost all of the recordings from the first shipment of 30,000 recordings. Although the vast majority of these recordings turned out to be duplicates, many of these were in far better condition than what the JSA already had. About 575 vintage 78-rpm recordings and 400 LPs have been added to the JSA database so far.
Alethea Perez packing recordings previously identified in the Saul's house.

Alethea Perez packing recordings previously identified in the Saul’s house.

Alethea Perez packing phonograph records in store.

Alethea Perez packing phonograph records in store.

Ben Roth sealing boxes filled with recordings.

Ben Roth sealing boxes filled with recordings.

Nathan Tinanoff making boxes in furniture store.

Nathan Tinanoff making boxes in furniture store.


Alethea Perez & Nathan Tinanoff take a well-deserved work break as they pose in front of some of the boxes they packed.

Alethea Perez & Nathan Tinanoff take a well-deserved work break as they pose in front of some of the boxes they packed.

“This second shipment of recordings from Cleveland will be almost twice as large as the first. We did a great job of packing recordings. Our backs hurt. Our fingers are bleeding. But are hearts are happy,” said Tinanoff.

JSA Highlights: New CD from Cantor Udi Spielman

By , October 29, 2009 3:22 pm

Our work at the JSA involves working in our offices for hours and hours on computers. Nathan Tinanoff is always busy entering information about newly acquired recordings into the database and I spend my time writing this blog and creating all the public relations materials for the JSA. So we were more than happy to take a break two Fridays ago to visit a good friend.

Cantor Udi Spielman

Cantor Udi Spielman

Cantor Udi Spielman of B’nai Torah Congregation (6261 SW 18th Street, Boca Raton, FL) asked us to stop by for a visit.  He said that he wanted to give us something.

What he wanted to give us were some copies of his new CD as gifts and to share on the JSA Website. He has been a JSA featured performer since January, 2008.

This newest CD is truly special. Recorded live at B’nai Torah Congregation in March 2009, it features the Cantor and his wife Varda singing songs of the High Holy Days written especially for the occasion by their dear friend Cantor Meir Finkelstein.

Their beautiful rendition of L’dor Vador has special meaning for the JSA. This song, more than any other, encapsulates the idea of heritage and knowledge being passed from “generation to generation.” This concept inspires us and motivates us to work tirelessly to preserve the Jewish heritage of recorded sound. To listen to the CD, click here.

It is always a delight to meet with Cantor Spielman because he is so full of ideas and enthusiasm. He helps the JSA by reaching out to other cantors and performers, encouraging them to share their music through the JSA website.

He also wanted to tell us about the exciting new Concert Series at B’nai Torah. This year Debbie Friedman, a favorite of my children and now my grandchildren, will be appearing.  Also on the program is Shuly Nathan who will always be remembered for her amazing rendition of “Jerusalem of Gold,” Cantor Alberto Mizrahi, Joshua Nelson, Frank London, and others.

Although these artists are not yet JSA featured performers we can always live in hope.

Judaica recordings jam-packed from floor to ceiling

By , September 24, 2009 4:16 pm
Jack Saul's Cleveland home

Jack Saul’s Cleveland home

After Jack Saul died in May 2009, Nathan Tinanoff of the Judaica Sound Archives was called to the Sauls’ home in Cleveland. The Saul family wanted to donate the Judaica portion of Jack’s huge collection of sound recordings to the JSA. Although Nat had spoken with Jack Saul several times over the years and had been told by many people of his incredible collection of recordings, he was still unprepared for what he found. The small suburban bungalow was unremarkable.  But what was inside was remarkable indeed!

What Nat saw were stacks of records! Stacks of records in the living room. Stacks of records in the basement. Stacks of records on the stairs. Stacks of records on the dining room table. The house was literally jam-packed with phonograph recordings, tapes, and CDs.



Jack Saul's staircase

Jack Saul’s staircase

The first task that Nat faced was to locate the Judaica recordings. He was able to identify over 12,000 recordings that could be added to the archives. But there were other treasures that he discovered.  For example, he found tens of thousands of 78 rpm phonograph recordings that were in mint condition.  Even though they weren’t Judaica, he knew they were important.

When Nat returned to Florida he and Dr. William Miller (Dean of FAU Libraries) had a talk.  Dr. Miller agreed that the collection of 78 rpm recordings were just too rare and valuable to be left behind.  Dr. Miller decided to bring those records to FAU Libraries to start a new collection of vintage phonograph recordings at the Wimberly Library.

LP albums headed for JSA in Boca Raton, FL

LP albums headed for JSA in Boca Raton, FL

Where has all the Jewish music gone?

By , September 4, 2009 2:25 pm

JSARS logoWhere has all the Jewish music gone?  Ever wondered what happened to all the Jewish music of days gone by?  Voices of the great cantors of the past.  Music from Yiddish theater. The Judaica Sound Archives may not have all the old Jewish music, but with tens of thousands of audio recordings it is well on its way.

The Judaica Sound Archives – Research Station (JSA-RS) was developed at FAU Libraries to provide a digital resource of recorded sound, containing tens of thousands of audio tracks from the archival collection of the JSA. The original source materials available through the JSA Research Station are 78 rpm recordings produced as early as 1901, LPs, 45 rpm recordings, cassette and 8-track tapes, and CDs.

Along with this wealth of audio recordings, JSA Research Stations allow access to discography and other pertinent information such as label and jacket scans which will greatly enhance a researcher’s ability to study this material. This includes the ability to search for and see listings of all recordings in the JSA archives, whether or not they have been digitized. Therefore, faculty and other researchers can conduct real-time, online research using the JSA-Research Station. Currently the JSA-Research Station accesses 19,000 songs from 2,000 different audio albums and 2,322 songs originally recorded on 78rpm. This library will be expanded throughout the coming year.

There are now 13 official JSA-Research Station sites in the USA, Canada, Israel and England. They are:

  • American Jewish University Library, Bel Air, CA
  • Florida Atlantic Univesrity, Wimberly Library, Boca Raton FL
  • Gratz College Library, Melrose Park, PA (near Philadelphia)
  • Hebrew Union College Library, New York City, NY
  • Jewish Music Institute Library and School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, London, England
  • Jewish Public Library of Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • National Library of Israel at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
  • National Yiddish Book Center, Amherst, MA
  • Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, Chicago, IL
  • University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • University of Pennsylvania Library, Philadelphia, PA
  • University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  • Washington University of St. Louis, St. Louis, MO

Panorama Theme by Themocracy