In A Joyful Noise, Deborah Weisgall tells a moving story of her turbulent coming-of-age in the shadow of two remarkable men who lived life as if they were characters in an opera. The daughter of a mercurial composer and the granddaughter of a legendary cantor, Deborah as a child longed to be entrusted with their precious music and carry it on ...
In A Joyful Noise, Deborah Weisgall tells a moving story of her turbulent coming-of-age in the shadow of two remarkable men who lived life as if they were characters in an opera. The daughter of a mercurial composer and the granddaughter of a legendary cantor, Deborah as a child longed to be entrusted with their precious music and carry it on herself. But it was impossible; she was a girl. A Joyful Noise recounts Deborah's search for a place within the family tradition and, finally, her triumphant discovery of a way to make the men who would exclude her -- who were also the men she loved -- listen to her voice. A Joyful Noise is a tender, heartbreaking, beautifully written chronicle of the power of memory, the survival of faith, and the pursuit of a grand musical heritage. "A superbly written chronicle encompassing the grand themes of the power of memory and the survival of faith." -- The Jewish Transcript; "Weisgall has written a valuable book." -- The New York Times Book Review; "This is a lovely memoir of life in the acutely functional family of a fine and learned composer. Deborah Weisgall writes of a milieu of discourse immersed in and emerging from music, and in which love and knowledge are not at odds. . . . A Joyful Noise is that of her own particular music of remembering." -- John Hollander; "An absorbing memoir, with music in the background and foreground." -- New York Jewish Week.
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Publishers Weekly, 1999-08-02 At the beginning of her memoir, poet and novelist Weisgall (Still Point), recalls her childhood longing for a place within the musical and religious culture of her family. But, as a girl, she was excluded from taking part in the rituals that resonated so deeply for her. Descended from generations of cantors, her grandfather Abba brought his family to America from Czechoslovakia in 1920. Her father Hugo composed secular operas (among them Six Characters in Search of an Author, which was based on a play by Luigi Pirandello and opened at the New York City Opera in 1959) and conducted the synagogue choir. Growing up in 1950s Baltimore, Weisgall developed a sharp eye for family dynamics. Her father's career as a teacher and composer periodically uprooted the family, but he was never quite able to separate himself from the Baltimore synagogue of his father, often traveling home hundreds of miles for a single religious holiday. Weisgall observes her father and grandfather's "musical struggle between parochial and secular life" (choosing between the steady job of a cantor and the more tenuous but diverse career of an opera singer) and tried to find for herself where faith and music intersect. It is only when she became a mother herself that Weisgall joined the more tolerant choir of the synagogue in her parents' community in Maine, finally able to take an active part in her musical and religious heritage, confident that her own daughter wouldn't have to struggle to be heard. This simply written chronicle subtly traces the author's coming of age, providing a highly personal vision of music as part of Jewish religious culture. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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