Remembering Kristallnacht: A historical investigation and descriptive analysis of, and performance preparation guide for Samuel Adler's chamber cantata "Stars in the Dust"

Rebecca Brown

Abstract

Samuel Adler's quest to help the world remember the atrocity of the Jewish Holocaust of World War II, resulted in the chamber cantata Stars in the Dust. This work is scored for chamber ensemble, mixed choir, soprano, tenor, baritone, and narrator, this work portrays the event from World War II known as Kristallnacht. The main focus of this document is three-fold. The first section provides a detailed historical account of the events leading up to, surrounding, and after Kristallnacht. This information is imperative in understanding the narration, and Jewish musical heritage recorded within the work. The second observes the salient compositional tendencies used within Stars in the Dust as compared with other representative sacred works by Adler. These elements include the use of harmonic seconds, melodic fourths, the resolution of polyphony into homophony, the alternation of duple, triple, and asymetrical meters, the use of choral unison and choral chanting, using the choir as commentator, and the propensity for ending a work in a hopeful manner. The third area focuses on the use of literary and musical quotation as a compositional technique. Adler intentionally records the singing traditions of the Mannheim synagogues during the late 1920s through the 1930s, as well as using more ancient musical and literary sources. The performance preparation guide include considerations for preparing the work for performance, rehearsal and memorization schedules, pacing, diction, the use of narrator, and other technical challenges.