Words on Music
To the Editor:
I think that Jonathan D. Sarna [Letters from Readers, January] is a bit confused. Yes, the musical notation for Adon Olam was first published in the Occident in 1894. And yes, Salamone Rossi’s Adon Olam was first published in Venice in the first half of the 17th century. But we are talking about two completely different pieces of music; true, they share the same text, but they are nonetheless different hymns, with different music, discrete unto themselves. It is worth noting that Rossi, who was known to the Court of Mantua as “Ebreo,” “the Jew,” composed thirty-two madrigal-like gems for the synagogue, of which Adon Olam is one; he is an important figure in the history of music. Among other things, Rossi was an inventor of the trio sonata, a reigning musical form in Western Europe for the next hundred years.
Jerome A. Chanes
National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council
New York City
Jonathan D. Sarna writes:
Jerome A. Chanes is quite correct about Salamone Rossi, but as far as the Occident—the original subject of this exchange—I am afraid that it is he who is confused. The Occident had long since ceased publication in 1894. Half a century earlier, it did publish the musical notation for Adon Olam, but whether it was the first to do so still seems to me quite dubious. Does it matter?