A lost Europe is mourned in this version of Kol Nidrei

A lost Europe is mourned in this version of Kol Nidrei


norman lebrecht

October 11, 2016

The composer Alexander Goldscheider wrote this instrumental setting of the prayer to reflect, as it should, on individual and family history.

He writes:

Tonight starts the highest Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur, synonymous with the famous prayer Kol Nidre. I wrote my music version 25 years ago, upon the death of my beloved father František, and recorded it with our son Chris, who plays the violin and viola, and beautifully so. The video (in the Czech version of this text below) is very recent and it is not really linked to Yom Kippur, but it is very much connected with the life of my dad, his family and with millions of other families within European Jewry. The very end of the video is also, in a very different spirit, linked to the family of our daughter Lisa, whose three wonderful boys resemble the trio that peacefully prays at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

I find the setting, and the embedded images, exquisitely moving.

Share if you agree.


  • Anne Raynaud says:

    Difficult to put into words. The juxtaposition of music and images is as you say stunning, and exquisitely moving.
    There are times when words fail. Thank goodness for music.

  • Steven Honigberg says:

    Incredibly beautiful tribute. Thank you for posting. My own tribute on this important day.

  • David Osborne says:

    Yes, wonderful.

  • Heath says:

    Beautiful. Thank you for posting.

  • Lucas Richman says:

    An effective composition that is not, however all that faithful to the actual Kol Nidre chant except for an actual quoted phrase here and there. Frankly, I find the organ interruptions to be melodramatically intrusive and not anything I’d want to experience in the context of a spiritual setting. Here’s my own setting for chamber ensemble (it is also available for string orchestra): http://ow.ly/BrkB3054SQ9

    • John Borstlap says:

      I don’t see any musicians. Were they hanging somewqhere from the ceiling?

      Nice version, though.

      • Lucas Richman says:

        Thanks, John! I was not involved in the filming/recording of the performance. Clearly, they had but one fixed camera that, sadly, did not capture the musicians making their beautiful contribution to the evening. It’s possible that the footage here was not even the correct footage that goes with the Kol Nidre performance.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Touching & chilling. Would be good educational material for German pegidaists.

    • Holly Golightly says:

      Would they be one and the same group who (amongst others) predicted terrorists would be coming in with the wave of “migrants”? Seems they were right and the majority of the fools were wrong. Keep watching that space. And keep reassuring yourself.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Just for the record: pegidaists are not only against families with children fleeing for their lives, but also agains the EU, against their government, against all politicians and against all media. According to pedigaism, they are ALL wrong and pegidaists are the only people to see things right. Therefore they burn down fugitive asylums to make their point. Pegidaism is a milder form of Isisism because there’s a lot of police around here so they cannot quite carry-out what they would really wish to do to people who don’t agree with them. It is the mind set of simple ‘solutions’ to complex problems, the fanatic populism of the underdeveloped. Any defense of these people betrays the onset of [redacted] .

  • Una says:

    Just beautiful …many memories as a Catholic of singing all the High Holy Days in Streatham Synagogue in London in the late ’70s and ’80s where the lovely Julia Neuberger was the Rabbi. Remembering everyone a this time as I listen to.this wonderful.music …

  • Warren says:

    Stunning! Indeed, as you astutely said “A Lost Europe is Mourned.”

    • John Borstlap says:

      Yes, but if you mean a pre-holocaustic Europe, it was a Europe where people from Jewish descent felt they had either to entirely assimilate and wipe-out any trace of Judaism from their life, or seek Judaist identity confirmation in closely-knit groups separated from the surrounding culture. As we know, neither reaction did help very much against the pegidaism of the day.