AVODATH HAKODESH (SACRED SERVICE)
Sunday, March 29, 2020 at 4 PM
First Presbyterian Church of Sarasota
2050 Oak Street - Sarasota, FL 34237
Ernest Bloch (1880-1959) was born in Geneva, Switzerland. His extraordinary talent as a musician was evident from a very early age. He played violin at age 9 and began composing shortly thereafter. His studies included some of the premier teachers and conservatories in Europe.
Bloch moved to the United States in 1916 and became an American citizen in 1924.
He was the first teacher of composition at the Mannes College The New School for Music in 1917. In 1920 he was appointed Musical Director of the newly formed Cleveland Institute of Music. He was director of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (1925-30). He taught and lectured at the University of California, Berkley until 1952. He retired to Agate Beach, Oregon in 1941. Bloch died of cancer in 1959 at the age of 78.
Bloch was commissioned to compose a setting of the Reform Jewish Sabbath morning service for Temple Emanuel in San Francisco in 1933. During his work on this composition, Bloch was inspired to expand the “service music” into a musical setting that would reach far beyond the boundaries of a Jewish liturgy. He called the work a “cosmic poem,” and said the music “had become a private affair between God and me.” He intended the message to go to the entire world, not just the Jewish community. About “Avodath Hakodesh” (Sacred Service), Bloch said:
“This work has been composed from the text of the Prayer Book of the Reform Synagogue of America, and while it is named Sacred Service, or Sabbath Morning Service, it embraces the whole of humanity, rather than a creed or sect.
“For fifty minutes I hope it will bring to the souls, minds and hearts of the people, a little more confidence, make them a little more kind and indulgent than they were and bring them peace.”