“Making Sacred All the Whispers of the World”: The Cabaretesque and the Aesthetics of Trauma
27th Annual Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Lecture in Judaic Studies
Trauma—as memory, as history, as past, as present—is inseparable from the sound and music of Jewish life. Sounding such trauma, giving voice to pain and tragedy, is possible only upon confronting the aesthetic paradox of how beauty, meaning, and agency intersect with the reality of trauma. Drawing upon Philip Bohlman's decades-long engagement with the performance and study of Jewish music on the cabaret stage, especially with his ensemble, the New Budapest Orpheum Society, the 27th annual Meyerhoff Lecture explores the paths that lead beyond the paradox, even in the moments of greatest trauma.
Established in 1996, the annual Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Lecture honors the memory of Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff, parents of Eleanor Meyerhoff Katz, wife of Herbert D. Katz, and important philanthropists who supported numerous and enduring civic and Jewish causes. The series brings to Penn preeminent scholars for a campus talk meant to enrich the experience of Katz Center fellows and open up the fellowship theme to the broader university community.
Philip V. Bohlman is the Ludwig Rosenberger Distinguished Service Professor in Jewish History, in the Department of Music at the University of Chicago, and Honorary Professor at the Hochschule für Musik, Theater, und Musik Hannover, Germany. Among his recent book publications are Wie sängen wir Seinen Gesang auf dem Boden der Fremde! (LIT Verlag, 2019) and Wolokolamsker Chaussee (Bloomsbury, 2021). He is the recipient of the 2022 Balzan Prize in Ethnomusicology.
This event is cosponsored by the Department of History, the Department of Music, the Jewish Studies Program, and the Program for Research on Religion and Urban Society at the University of Pennsylvania.