During the first decades of the nineteenth century, Israel Jacobson (1768-1828) created a radically new service that drew upon forms of worship most commonly associated with the Protestant faith. After finding inspiration as a student in the ideas of the Haskalah, or Jewish Enlightenment, Jacobson became committed to revitalizing and modernizing Judaism. Musically, Jacobson’s service was characterized by its use of songs modeled after Lutheran chorales that were sung by the congregation, organ accompaniment, choral singing, and the elimination of the traditional music of the synagogue, a custom that had developed over more than a millennium. The music of the service worked in conjunction with Protestant-style sermons, the use of both German and Hebrew, and the church- and salon-like environments in which Jacobson’s services were held. The music, liturgy, and ceremonial of this new mode of worship demonstrated an affinity with German Protestantism and bourgeois cultural values while also maintaining Judaism’s core beliefs and morals.
In this thesis, I argue that Jacobson’s musical agenda enabled a new realization of German-Jewish identity among wealthy, acculturated Jews. Drawing upon contemporary reports, letters, musical collections, and similar sources, I place the music of Reform within its wider historical, political, and social context within the well-documented services at the Jacobstempel in Seesen and the New Reform Temple in Berlin. Although much of this project discusses general practice rather than specific repertoire, I examine several works composed for these services: a canata by Johann August Gunther Heinroth (1773-1843), a hymn by Jacobson, and the 1815 Hallelujah Cantatine by Giacomo Meyerbeer (1791-1864).