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The Musical Roots of "The Jazz Singer"

Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 12:20pm to 1:20pm

Bibbins Hall (Conservatory of Music), Room 224 77 West College Street, Oberlin, OH 44074

Daniel Goldmark, associate professor of music at Case Western Reserve University is the Murphy Colloquium presenter.

Title: The Musical Roots of The Jazz Singer

The Jazz Singer grew from the kernel of an idea—specifically Samson Raphaelson’s observation, on hearing Al Jolson sing in 1917 : “My god, this isn’t a jazz singer. This is a cantor!” Raphaelson transformed his idea into the short story “Day of Atonement” (1922 ), followed in turn by the successful play The Jazz Singer (1925 ) and finally the 1927 feature.

Using newly discovered archival materials, I survey the tangled musical history of this pivotal film musical, drawing together music from a variety of sources, including nineteenth-century melodrama and operetta, Tin Pan Alley, and Jewish liturgy.

Event Type



Jazz Studies, Academic, Musicology, Music History, Conservatory of Music, Administrative




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