Exploring the world of Jewish recordings

By , January 15, 2014 3:35 pm

Indiana Jones: “We do not follow maps to buried treasure and X never, ever marks the spot.” (Last Crusade)

Dr. Randall Goldberg, Asst. Prof of Music History at the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University in Ohio has been digging for “treasure” at the Judaica Sound Archives at the Wimberly Library on FAU’s Boca Raton campus.

He has no map and so far has not discovered a spot marked with an “X.” But he has spent weeks tirelessly searching at FAU’s Judaica Sound Archives through thousands of 78 rpm recordings for information about how Jewish identity was expressed in 20th-century music. Like Indiana Jones, Randy Goldberg feels like he is on a quest. Allowing his intellectual curiosity to lead him on a fantastic journey back in time, he relishes finding little known tid-bits of information.

Prof. Goldberg crouches between the stacks to check the record numbers he is looking for.

“For me the passion is in the records.  There is a childish love that I have for it. I used to watch Indiana Jones films and that is the sense of adventure I have. I am always looking for some hidden treasure whether it is here at FAU’s Judaica Sound Archives or in an old record store in Pittsburgh.”

“Jewish musicians have a cool niche. I love to find weird mash-ups, like Chassidic disco albums or Jewish sacred music set to a Carribean beat.”

Prof. Goldberg  doesn’t find the enormity of the JSA collection to be overwhelming.  Quite the opposite.  “Just being being here and being immersed in the entirety of this whole thing. It fuels my enthusiasm and my passion for my research project.” he says.

Dr. Goldberg checks the information on the actual record label to ensure the correctness of his database.

Dr. Goldberg spends his time searching through the JSA’s database, locating the recordings that he is interested in and then entering information about those recordings into his laptop for use later in his research. It might seem like tedious work to some but Dr. Goldberg seems more like a “kid in a candy shop” than anything else.

JSA: “You seem to be having a good time visiting us and working here.”

GOLDBERG: “I love doing this. And the beautiful Florida weather isn’t bad either.  Back home in Ohio there are 12″ of snow on the ground!”

Dr. Goldberg achieved a BM in classical guitar performance at the University of Texas at Austin and a MM in musical performance at the New England Conservatory. He earned his doctorate at Indiana University. He is an Assistant Professor of Music History at Youngstown State University, College of Creative Arts and Communication, Dana School of Music. He  specializes in the music and music literature of early modern Europe.  In addition to teaching courses, Dr. Goldberg directs the Youngstown State University Early Music Ensemble and is the president of the Allegheny Chapter of the American Musicological Society.

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