Theological stains: Art music and the zionist project

Assaf Shelleg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Theological Stains traces the growth of art music in Israel from the mid-twentieth century to the turn of the twenty-first. In a riveting and provocative account, Assaf Shelleg explores the theological grammar of Zionism and its impact on the art music written by emigrant and native composers grappling with biblical redemptive promises and diasporic patrimonies. Unveiling the network that bred territorial nationalism and Hebrew culture, Shelleg shows how this mechanism infiltrated composers’ work as much as it triggered less desirable responses from composers who sought to realize to the nonterritorial diasporic options Zionism has renounced. In the process, compositional aesthetics was stained by the state’s nationalization of the theological, by diasporism that refused redemption, and by Jewish musical traditions that permeated inaudibly into compositions written throughout the second half of the twentieth century. Accompanying this rich and dramatic story are equivalent developments in modern Hebrew literature and poetry alongside vast and previously unstudied archival sources. The book is also lavishly illuminated with 135 music examples that render it an incisive guide to fundamental chapters in modern and late modern art music.

Original languageAmerican English
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages459
ISBN (Electronic)9780197504642
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Oxford University Press 2020.


  • Arab jews
  • Art music
  • Hebrew culture
  • Israel
  • Jewish music
  • Musicology
  • Twentieth-century music
  • Zionism
  • Zionist historiography


Dive into the research topics of 'Theological stains: Art music and the zionist project'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this