David W Solomons’ Music Site - (Old Version -  Final update was on 6 October 2014)
Home Guide My Works Publishers News DDs Videos Personal Others Search Email Links

This is the old site. For the new version please click here.

Jewishness Or Not

Many people have asked me, either because of the Jewish sound of some of my music or because of my name, whether I am Jewish.

So I thought it would be a good idea to create a Jewish page, just to draw together all the strings that have been inspired by my judaic ancestry.

First, however, a quick explanation: I am not Jewish; I suppose one could say I am one-quarter Jewish since my grandfather married a gentile and my father also married a gentile, but, in fact, my immediate family has been atheist since the middle of the 20th Century, if not before, so questions of Jewishness, Christian-ness or any other religion-ness are actually quite irrelevant.

I was given the middle name of Warin - after the Norman French hero Fouke Fitz Warin - so that I could use that name as a surname if anti-semitism were to raise its ugly head in the UK. It did raise its ugly head in some places on this island, but not so badly that I needed to change my name, thanks be to British multiculturalism!

During my University days I was drawn towards Christianity for a few years and from there on to Christian music styles, which have proved very fruitful both in my compositional creations and in my opportunity to sing in church and Cathedral choirs. Despite my return to atheism I have ever since enjoyed singing in Christian places (although I do snooze a bit during the spoken parts!). I have always loved their music and in fact it took some time for me to realise that a chunk of Jewishness is also to be found in there amongst my musical chromosomes. My mass for men’s voices - which has been performed liturgically several times (including the day after Princess Diana’s death in 1997, at Dublin Christ Church Cathedral)  - has struck many as being “full of Eastern promise”.  I certainly didn’t realise this “Eastern promise” whilst I was writing it!

Since then I have revelled in an ever wider mix of styles and the Jewish style has definitely taken an important position amongst them:

The most successful - so far - of my Jewish-style pieces has been my Tants Fraylachs, a quartet for clarinets, saxophones or tubas/euphoniums. It has been performed in Canada, Japan, the UK and probably elsewhere. You can hear one of the the performances by the Fell clarinet quartet here:

Jewish or not...?

Other instrumental ensembles an solos with a Jewish flavour include:

A Tango Already (bandoneon, double bass, violin and piano)

Pax Eiscum (flute and guitar)

Eight Jewish melodies (flute and guitar)

Eight Jewish melodies (clarinet and guitar)

Eight Jewish melodies (guitar trio)

Camp David (string quintet)

Hora Ha-Kulmus (Dance of the Quill)  (oboe, clarinet and bassoon)

Variations on Adon Olam:

    (flute, viola and guitar)

    (2 flutes and guitar)

    (flute, violin and cello)

    (piccolo, oboe and clarinet)

    (flute, clarinet and guitar)

    (flute, cello and guitar)

Pensieri su Klizemer (= Thoughts on Klezmer) - for

     solo saxophone  (mp3) (score)

     solo flute          (mp3) (score)

     solo clarinet               (score)

Canzone per Pesach (= Song for Passover)

    guitar solo (score)

Al Hanisim  (= the miracles)

      (electronic preview - mp3)

      clarinet, violin, cello and piano (score)

       alto saxophone, clarinet and piano (score)

Shem ru’ahh for clarinet solo

Ningal’s Song for clarinet and guitar (Middle Eastern feel - not really Jewish but it fits in here, I feel )

Klezmer del Mar (flute, cello and guitar)

Nokh amol mit neshome (once more with soul) flute solo)

Vocal pieces with a Jewish or Yiddish flavour

Al Hanisim (voice, clarinet and strings)

The Feast of Lights (two sopranos (or soprano sections) and piano)

4 Yiddish folksong arrangements (alto and guitar)

The Hebrew Class (alto and guitar - the origin of “Pax Eiscum” above)

The quiet way you move me

   Alto and guitar

   Alto and piano

Kol Dodi (this one is not my composition - but I’ve included here for completeness, since I sang it)