The music histories signaled by (and in) Mordecai Seter’s notebooks

Assaf Shelleg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spanning more than 2700 pages, the notebooks Mordecai Seter had written between 1952 and 1993 feature more than to-do lists, teaching schedules, and other errands involving the musicians and functionaries that performed, published or broadcast his music. The notebooks disclose dozens of stylistic self-analyses (whose growing volume in the 1960s and 1970s would signal a creative impasse) alongside numerous citations from books on Jewish mysticism, esotericism, symbolism, philosophy, psychoanalysis, modernism, art history, and musicology that Seter repurposed as borrowed autobiographical snippets. Combined, these two facets shed new light on his aesthetic shifts as well as on the stipulations of the historiography of art music in Israel. And as unsung chapters of Seter’s autobiography unfold, they also thicken the biography of a bigger ecosystem, unconditioned by notions of peripherality or Otherness.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)192-224
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Modern Jewish Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Cantata for Shabbat
  • Gershom Scholem
  • Hebrew culture
  • Israel
  • Jewish music
  • Mordecai Seter
  • Tikkun Hatzot
  • Twentieth Century music
  • art music


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