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Daniele Bedarida Presents the Music of the Synagogue of Livorno

16Apr6:00 pm8:00 pmDaniele Bedarida Presents the Music of the Synagogue of Livorno6:00 pm - 8:00 pm(GMT+00:00) 8 West 70th Street, New York, NY 10023

Event Details

Join the Hazan of Livorno Daniele Bedarida and his son, art historian Raffaele Bedarida, for an evening of music and art.

Daniele Bedarida will perform traditional music from the synagogue of Livorno which he contributed to recuperate from oral and written sources. He will be joined in performance by Rabbi Ira Rhodes.

Mr. Bedarida’s latest CD Shemà Qolì provides a fascinating journey in the history of Livornese Jewry and its culture. The introduction by Francesco Spagnolo is available in Eglish in Printed Matter.

Raffaele Bedarida will discuss the famous painting by Solomon Hart portraying the festival of Simchat Torah in the no longer standing 18th century synagogue of Livorno.

Daniele Bedarida’s musical journey

Adam Smulevich, Moked, adapted by Alessandro Cassin

Handed down from father to son, the songs of the Jews of Livorno reflect centuries of cultural cross pollination which characterizes the Italian port city, unique for never having had the imposition of a ghetto. The music reflects the emotional tone of the city: anarchic, ironic and free spirited. A melting pot of Mediterranean cultures and identities, Livornese musical tradition found one of its best-known representatives in composer Michele Bolaffi.

Only recently musicians and musicologists have begun to salvage and conserve Livorno’s ancient endangered musical heritage. Much of the credit belongs to Daniele Bedarida, the temple’s chazan, who has identified a way to document and pass down the tradition through modern technologies. For Bedarida, Jewish liturgy is a family tradition: his grandfather, Alfredo Sabato Toaff,  was the spiritual leader of Livorno during the dark war period; his uncle, Elio Toaff, is Rabbi emeritus of Rome and one of the foremost international  figures  of Italian Jewry. “As a child I always attended Beth HaKnesset, it was natural for me to learn the music from old chazanim,” says Daniele, a dental surgeon by profession. The recovery work started with the establishment of the choir, created in 1995, and focused on broadening the base of people familiar with the community’s vocal tradition.

Retrieval is a complicated job that requires great patience and honed investigative skills. Bedarida explains the basic problem: “The musical heritage of Livorno is huge, but despite its vastness, very few written samples survive”. Among the scholars who have attempted preservation and cataloging, are Federico Consolo and Leo Levi. They efforts stemmed from a shared passion for Judaism and Jewish music. Today the torch has passed to Daniele, the “historical memory” of the community, who researches unpublished materials in the archives. Oral testimonies have become very rare: a welcome exception is an Ashkivenu composed by Maestro Lattes, which Bedarida was able to document thanks to the recollections of a choir member.

In the absence of written musical records, the next step in the work of recovery is to transcribe the findings onto musical scores, and finally record them as audio files. Daniele Bedarida has completed recording of six CDs that provide a broad panorama of the Judeo-Livornese musical traditions.


Daniele Bedarida (b. 1949) is a medical doctor specialized in odontology. His lifelong commitment to the study and preservation of Livornese Jewish tradition and hazanut started with his early formation under the guidance of his grandfather, rabbi Alfredo Toaff, ZL, and has continued since then through his activity as a hazan and a teacher at Livorno. Bedarida is co-founder and soloist of the choir Ernesto Ventura (founded 1995), dedicated to the knowledge of the rich Jewish music repertoire of Livorno. Beside his regular activity as a hazan, he has performed worldwide both as a soloist and with the Ventura choir. He has participated in several Jewish music festivals, from “Mediterranean Cultures” in Thessaloniki (1997) to the “Convegno in memoria di Leo Levi” in Fiesole (2000),  from “Bologna si rivela” in Bologna (2007) “o “Ha-Kinus haShenatì  ha-50 leMusiqa Yehudit” in Jerusalem (2008). Bedarida’s recordings include a ten-hour comprehensive archive of the lithurgic music of Livorno (1994), which is available to researchers at the Jewish Community of Livorno, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and Penn University in Philadelphia; two CDs as a soloist, Al Ekhalì (1994) and Shemà Qolì (2008); and one with the Ventura choir, Haggadah di Pesach (2000).

Raffaele Bedarida (b. 1979) is a New York-based art historian and curator. Doctoral candidate at the CUNY Graduate Center, he teaches at Parsons The New School for Design and regularly lectures at MoMA and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Raffaele is a specialist in twentieth-century European and American art, focusing on art, politics, and identity. His books include, Bepi Romagnoni: Il nuovo racconto(Milan: Silvana, 2005), Dennis Oppenheim: Short-circuit(Milan: Silvana, 2007), Susanna Pozzoli: On the Block (Turin: Allemandi, 2010), Prima che il gallo canti (Turin: Allemandi, 2011).

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