Bach B minor Mass in Hebrew? Only in New York…

Bach B minor Mass in Hebrew? Only in New York…


norman lebrecht

January 07, 2014

bach kippa

Press release: Bach’s B Minor Mass takes on a Hebrew accent in this version created by New York psychiatrist Eric Weitzner, adapting Jewish prayers and theological ideas to Bach’s transcendent music. Bach’s universality truly comes to the fore in this community Sing-in.

Selected movements of Bach’s Prayer in B Minor will be prepared in advance and sung by members of The Dessoff Choirs, and other movements will be sung by everyone in attendance. But there’s no obligation to sing – all are invited to experience the great affinity between the Christian and Jewish faiths, and the universality of Bach’s sublime music.

Both Dr. Weitzner and Dessoff’s Music Director Christopher Shepard will offer spoken commentary. Scores will be provided.

Come. Sing. Or listen. And learn about the Second Life of one of the pinnacles of the choral repertoire.

Tickets are only $15 ($10 Seniors/students).

Order online  to avoid long lines at the door and to make sure we have a score for you.


Sunday, January 12, 2 pm

Congregation Habonim

44 W. 66th Street, New York City


  • David H. says:

    “Bach’s universality truly comes to the fore in this community Sing-in.”

    If Bach’s b minor Mass is universal music, then I’m sure it works great with the original latin words in a . Or what logical finesse did I miss here?

    Shouldn’t the respect for the masterpiece trump everything else?

  • Mikey says:

    It’s a Catholic Mass. Bach wasn’t Catholic. And yet the music resonates.

    Isn’t that sign enough that it doesn’t require “re-texting” to retain its “universality”?

  • sixtus says:

    Great affinity eh? Let’s see this trick done with the St.John or St.Matthew passions. If performed with original instruments the language would have to be Koine Greek or Aramic.

  • Roy Lisker says:

    It is a phenomenal idea. The Latin text is not integral to the music; in fact Bach stitched together several Protestant cantatas, in German, to compile the B-Minor Mass. It was not so much a tribute to Catholicism, as a vain plea to the court at Dresden to get him out of the nightmare of the Thomasschule in Leipzig. Judaism is the foundation of Christianity. Christians should therefore listen a bit more often to what Jews have to say about their fundamental,aspirations and beliefs.

  • Mikey says:

    @Roy, I’m afraid you have it backwards. Bach used parts of the Mass in cantatas, not the other way around. He did not add the text as any sort of afterthought. The music was written specifically with that text in mind.

  • David H. says:

    “And learn about the Second Life of one of the pinnacles of the choral repertoire.”

    I just got a call from Johann Sebastian, and he said Dr. Weitzner should stick it where the sun doesn’t shine.

    To imply that the bastardization of one of the greatest masterpieces of human music history is a reincarnation, a “second life” of it, is so hilariously over the top and without any decency and respect. Dr. Weitzner is free to write his own music or find a composer for his text he wants to gain publicity with.

  • Mim says:

    I went, I sang, and I found it very moving to join the words of my own liturgy to that familiar and sublime music. Thank you, Eric Weitzner.