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Beregovski, Moshe

BEREGOVSKI, MOSHE

BEREGOVSKI, MOSHE (1892–1961), Soviet Russian musicologist. Born in the Ukraine, Beregovski was the son of a melammed and reader (ba'al kore) and sang in the synagogue choir, where he received his first musical training. He studied composition at the Leningrad Conservatory and participated in the field expeditions of the late 1910s. He taught music and conducted a choir at the Jewish folk music society in Kiev. In 1918 he founded and directed the music section of the Jewish Culture League in Kiev and in 1927 began to collect and study Jewish folk music at the Faculty of Jewish Culture of the Ukranian Academy of Sciences. From 1928 to 1941 he was the head of the Folk Music Division of the Jewish Culture League and the Folklore Department of the Kiev Conservatory. By the beginning of World War ii the folk music department had more than 1,200 cylinder recordings of 3,000 items and more than 4,000 transcriptions, of which more than 600 were recorded by Beregovski, as well as the collections of *An-Ski and Joel *Engel. In 1944 he received his diploma in music in Moscow for his thesis on Jewish instrumental music. In 1946 his doctoral work on musical theater and his thesis were rejected because of elements of Western culture which he described. In 1949 the department of Jewish culture was closed and in 1950 Beregovski was arrested and imprisoned for five years. After his release he tried to publish his work but could not do so for political reasons. He had written most of his projected five-volume study of East European Jewish folk music and given it to his family before his arrest. Most of his recordings and writings survived wwii and are kept in several institutions in the Ukraine. His five volumes include: (1) workers' and revolutionary songs of the 1905 period, domestic and army songs (published in 1934 under the title Yevreyskiy musikalny folklor and in its Yiddish edition (in Latin characters) as Jidisher Muzik Folklor); (2) love and family songs; (3) klezmer music; (4) songs without words; (5) music of the Purimshpil. These are all being published in the U.S., Russia, and Israel. In 1938 Beregovski published another collection of Yiddish songs from several sources under the tittle Yidishe Folkslider, edited with Itzik *Fefer (1938), which contained 298 items influenced by Soviet ideology.

Beregovski was the first ethnomusicologist to record in the field with a recording machine the oral traditions of East European Jews. The material he collected between 1914 and 1948 includes songs of the Holocaust. He was a pioneer in addressing the question of modes and context in the study of Jewish folk music. Beregovski's extensive work represents the rich musical life of Jews in Russia and the Ukraine before the Holocaust and established the basis of modern studies of this material. The following of his works appeared posthumously: Old Jewish Folk Music (ed. M. Slobin, 1982); Jewish Instrumental Folk Music (ed. M. Slobin, R. Rothstein. and M. Alpert, 2001); Evreiske Narodnye Musikalno-Teatralnye Predstavlenia (2001).

[Gila Flam (2nd ed.)]

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