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“Hatikvah: Secular Anthem or Religious Song?”

February 19 @ 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm

Hatikvah, the national anthem of Israel, is much more than a song. It is a symbol that has developed a variety of significations in performances carried out in different contexts and times. The most common association of Hatikvah is with the modern nation-state of Israel, which formally adopted it as its anthem through parliamentary legislation only in 2004. Until then, Hatikvah functioned as an anthem by common voluntary practice rather than by the force of legislation. Were there other meanings associated with Hatikvah beyond the conventional ones? Two unconventional “moments of signification” of Hatikvah will be addressed: that of a piyyut (religious song) and that of an “Oriental” popular song.

Edwin Seroussi is the Emanuel Alexandre Professor of Musicology at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Director of the Jewish Music Research Centre since 2000. He has previously taught at the Department of Music of Bar Ilan University, and has been a visiting professor at several institutions, such as the University of California at Berkeley, Moscow University, Institut für Mussikwissechaft in Zürich, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Harvard University, University of Chicago, and Dartmouth College, where he is a permanent Visiting Scholar.

Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, Prof. Seroussi immigrated to Israel in 1971, where he studied at the Department of Musicology at the undergraduate and graduate levels continuing into his doctoral studies at the University of California Los Angeles (1981-1987). As a faculty member of the Department of Musicology at The Hebrew University, he teaches ethnomusicology, world music, theory and methodology in the study of oral traditions and popular music. Besides his academic activities he is active in the music scene of Israel and abroad in diverse capacities as producer, advisor, member of the board of musical institutions and representative to the International Music Council (UNESCO).

His research focuses on the musical cultures of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, interactions between Jewish and Islamic cultures and popular music in Israel exploring process of hybridization, diaspora, nationalism and transnationalism. He founded Yuval Music Series and is editor of the acclaimed CD series Anthology of Music Traditions in Israel.

Seroussi has been awarded several prestigious prizes, among them the Israel Prize for 2018 in the field of musicology. In 2019, he is a Fellow at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Jewish Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

This is the 22nd Annual Silvers Visiting Scholar Program, endowed by David, C’71, and Patricia, CW’72, Silvers, and co-sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania Jewish Studies Program and the Department of Music.

The Silvers Visiting Scholars Program is intended especially to engage an audience of Penn undergraduates, as well as faculty and community. Free and open to the public. No RSVP necessary. For more information, call 215-898-6654, or email: [email protected]


February 19
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm


University of Pennsylvania Jewish Studies Program


Lerner Center
Lerner Center, Room 101, 201 South 34th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
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