Salamone Rossi was a 17th-century Italian composer who wrote choral arrangements of several liturgical texts -- piyutim, Tanakh passages, prayers (like hashkiveinu and kedusha), etc. (See the link for what, as far as I know, is the complete list.) I've sung some of this music and it's beautiful. What I'm wondering is how this music (Rossi's or other Renaissance composers') was used in Rossi's time -- was it purely for the concert hall, or did services sometimes include choral music? If so, under what circumstances?

I'm asking here rather than on Music because I'm asking about use in Jewish worship.

  • Monica - I guess our earlier "chat" biased my answer to focus on just Rossi. The question title is much more broad than its content. Did you want to know about all Renaissance composers or just Rossi? AFAIK, Rossi was the only Jewish (and I think he was Baroque period, not Renessiance, but verify this, please) composer.
    – DanF
    Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 21:09
  • Rossi is my jumping-off point and the only Jewish renaissance composer with surviving works who I know about. But if somebody does know about others, or about synagogue-music practice of the time without regard to composer, I wanted to leave things open for that answer too. (His musical style is sometimes described as baroque, but he's a little early for the usual bounds for that period.) Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 21:23
  • My fault. I confused the Renaissance with the Romantic period when I wrote the last comment. The Baroque was between the two, IIRC.
    – DanF
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 16:23

1 Answer 1


From what I could infer from this article, it seems that

"Rabbi Leon (Yehudah Aryeh) Modena (1571-1648) was one of the most colorful figures in the Jewish Renaissance. He was an accomplished musician, and served as cantor in the Italian Synagogue in Venice. "

He encouraged integrating Rossi's music as part of the service. He met with considerable objection, apparently. There was a general accepted notion that music was forbidden after the destruction of the Temple. He argued against this opinion.

Citing further:

For Rabbi Leon Modena, his young friend, the musician Salamone Rossi, would herald the Jewish re-awakening.

For there has arisen in Israel (thank God) … a very talented man, accustomed to performing with singers before princes, dukes and nobles. After the splendor of the people had been dimmed by the passage of days and years, he restored their crown to its ancient state as in the days of the Levites on their platforms. He set the words of the Psalms to music that was published, joyous songs before the Ark on Sabbaths, feasts and festivals. No longer will arrogant opponents utter bitter words about the Hebrew folk. They will see that it too possesses talent, the equal of the best endowed.

The article is not overly long, and it is fascinating to read about the various halachic objections that arose and how Rabbi Modena countered them.

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