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Territoires musicaux mis en scène

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Monique Desroches
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Marie-Hélène Pichette
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Claude Dauphin
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III. Performances traditionnelles et actuelles

Portuguese Crypto-Jews and constructed musical identities

Judith R. Cohen

Résumé

This is fundamentally a descriptive article which aims to fill a gap in Sephardic and Crypto-Jewish studies: what is the role of music in the lives of surviving Crypto-Jews in Portugal? It provides a brief overview of the history of the expulsions of the Jews from late fifteenth-century Spain and Portugal, and focuses on the community of Belmonte, with references to Crypto-Jews in other areas of rural Portugal, as well as in the two largest cities, Lisbon and Oporto. The repertoire is discussed in three general groups: music practiced as Jewish music by the community, Jewish music learned from visitors beginning in the early twentieth century, and non-Jewish music, used in both Jewish and non-Jewish contexts. The role of the Internet in the selection of new repertoire and source melodies for synagogue singing is also discussed.

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Extrait du texte

This article aims to fill a gap in Sephardic and Crypto-Jewish studies: the role of music in the lives of surviving Crypto-Jews in Portugal. It provides a brief overview of the history of the expulsions of the Jews from late fifteenth-century Spain and Portugal, and focuses on the community of Belmonte, with references to Crypto-Jews in other areas of rural Portugal, as well as in the two largest cities, Lisbon and Oporto. In 1492, the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, expelled the Jews from Spain. Many fled to Portugal, only to be expelled from there too, five years later. However, when they arrived in Lisbon, expecting to board ships, most were forcibly baptized, then sent home as New Christians. The expulsion from Spain had given the Jews a short time – just a few months – to decide whether they could manage to leave, or whether they chose or were obliged by circumstances to stay on as New Christians; in the latter case, these few months had to suffice for them to learn ...

Auteur

Judith R. Cohen teaches at York University, Toronto, and is the General Editor of the Alan Lomax Spanish Recordings. She researches and also performs Sephardic music and related traditions. Her recent publications include “‘This drum I play’: Women and the Square Drum in Spain and Portugal”, in Veronica Doubleday, ed. Sounds of Power: Musical Instruments and Gender. Ethnomusicology Forum 17/1: 95-124.

© Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 2011

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