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Found in Translation? Foreign Songs and the Creation of Israeli Musical Culture

Photo for Found in Translation? Foreign Songs

Left: Cover of Israeli singer Chava Alberstein's album, with the transformed version of the Beatles' "Let It Be" into "Lu Yehi" Right: the cover of the Beatles' album, "Let It Be"

A lecture by Visiting Assistant Professor Daniel Stein Kokin examining the role of foreign music in creating a uniquely Israeli musical culture.

Monday, January 28, 2019
5:30 PM - 6:45 PM
Bunche Hall, Room 10383

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Sponsored by the Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies. Co-sponsored by the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, the Department of Ethnomusicology and the Center for Near Eastern Studies.

About the Talk

Alongside the composition of original Hebrew songs, Israeli musicians have invested heavily in the translation and adaptation of foreign pieces into the language and themes of modern Israel. Yehoram Gaon based his "Shalom Lakh Eretz Nehederet" on Arlo Guthrie's "City of New Orleans," Naomi Shemer transformed the Beatles' "Let it Be" into "Lu Yehi," and the hit duo the "Parvarim" even produced an entire album of Simon and Garfunkel sung in the language of Bialik and Agnon.

What accounts for this vast corpus of foreign songs in Israeli music and what impact have such renderings had on the development of Israeli culture? After surveying this significant, yet largely overlooked, phenomenon, this presentation will focus on a series of test cases and argue that the extensive importation of foreign songs into Hebrew paradoxically played a key role in the creation of an autonomous Israeli musical culture.

About the Speaker

Daniel Stein Kokin is Junior Professor of Jewish Literature and Culture at the University of Greifswald in Germany. He has been a Visiting Assistant Professor at the UCLA Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies since Fall 2017. In 2015-16, he served as the Viterbi Professor of Mediterranean Jewish Studies at UCLA.

Professor Stein Kokin’s research ranges across Renaissance, Jewish, and Israel Studies and has been supported by Villa I Tatti: The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence, Italy and the Käte Hamburg Kolleg of the Ruhr University Bochum in Germany.

During the 2018-19 academic year, Professor Stein Kokin will teach two undergraduate courses in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures: “Settlement in Israeli History” and “Zionism: Ideology and Practice in Making of Jewish State.” He will also teach “Europe and Israel: The History of a Vexed Relationship” in the International Institute's International and Area Studies program.

A native Angeleno, Daniel Stein Kokin received his B.A. in Classics from The University of Chicago and his PhD in Renaissance Intellectual History from Harvard University, completing additional coursework in Jewish Studies at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Sponsor(s): Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies, Center for Near Eastern Studies, Near Eastern Languages and Cultures