Challenging the Theater of Memory: Yiddish Song beyond Kitsch and Stereotype

aus dem Fanny Hensel-Saal

Dienstag, 11. Oktober 2022 ab 19:30 Uhr


Challenging the Theater of Memory:
Yiddish Song beyond Kitsch and Stereotype

11. Oktober 2022, 19.30 Uhr
aus dem Fanny Hensel-Saal

Performing Yiddish music in post-war Germany and Austria comes with a set of expectations and assumptions about Jewish culture. In this lecture-concert, Yiddish musicians and researchers Isabel Frey and Benjy Fox-Rosen confront these expectations, challenging the so-called “Theater of Memory” where Jewish roles are limited and often instrumentalized to fit into the broader dominant cultural narrative.


The musical journey begins with nostalgic Yiddish songs before moving to unaccompanied folk songs collected through ethnographic fieldwork. It continues with partisan and resistance songs from the Shoah and concludes with new Yiddish music by the artists themselves. Through musical performance, dialogue and short essayistic fragments, Frey and Fox-Rosen reflect on the myth of the shtetl, the ruptures and continuities of oral transmission, the weight of Holocaust memory culture and their own attempts to creatively deal with the expectations inherent to performing Jewish music in the German-speaking world.

Musicians and Researchers

Isabel Frey is a Yiddish singer and PhD candidate at the structured doctoral program “Music Matters” at the mdw. Both her research and her artistic practice are concerned with the political dimensions of Yiddish singing for Jewish identity.

Benjy Fox-Rosen is a singer, bassist and composer largely working in Jewish music. He is a conductor of the Vienna Stadttempel Choir and researches Yiddish and Jewish liturgical music.

Further information

Further information on the website of the MMRC.