Over the last several weeks, at the recommendation of someone on here, I've been studying Jewish Liturgy: A Comprehensive History by Ismar Elbogen. It is a modern (early Twentieth Century) academic study of the historical development of the siddur in multiple Jewish communities. It is respectful of tradition while maintaining its historical integrity.

What I am moved to wonder, are there similar academic works that focus more specifically on the historical musical development of Jewish liturgy? For example, a book that traces musical themes, that attempts to find when and where certain musical modes developed, and what other melodies became attached to the synagogue service at what times and places.

Edit: If there is not a book as comprehensive as I describe, I would also be interested to know of any that trace historical synagogue music in a more limited area, say over a subsection of Ashkenaz.

  • Interesting question. You might have better luck asking on a music Stack Exchange.
    – N.T.
    Aug 17, 2022 at 5:44
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    I'm active in the field, but I'm not aware of a good comprehensive book. Yet I would start with the entries Jewish music, Louis Lewandowski and Salomon Sulzer in the Encyclopaedia Judaica. Aug 17, 2022 at 7:45

1 Answer 1


Try the book Jewish Music: It's Historical Development by A.Z. Idelsohn. (https://www.amazon.com/Jewish-Music-Historical-Development-Judaism/dp/0486271471)

I used this resource in researching my honours thesis on the development and place of "the Blue Book" in the landscape of synagogue music of Ashkenazi communities.

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    Is your thesis available online?
    – Double AA
    Aug 24, 2022 at 13:02
  • I don't know. I don't think i gave the university a digital copy, just the 2 or 3 hard copies that were required. I'll see if I can find it and let you know
    – Aaron Max
    Aug 24, 2022 at 23:03

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