In his work From the Forgotten Book for voice and string orchestra (2005) Anatolijus Šenderovas used old Jewish songs from the Vilnius region found in the book Muzykalisher pinkos (Musical Notebook. A collection of melodies from the treasury of Jewish heritage). It was published in Kaunas, in 1927, by the Society of Jewish History and Ethnography, then largely forgotten and accidentally rediscovered by musicologist Jūratė Trilupaitienė at the National M. Mažvydas Library in the beginning of this century. This publication featured melodies set to the religious texts written in old Hebrew and Aramaic and collected by Litvak cantor and ethnographer Abraham Mosze Bernstein in Vilnius and its environs. According to Šenderovas, these melodies presented a unique combination of folk music influences from various ethnic communities – Poles, Belarusians, Lithuanians and Jews – that lived alongside each other for many centuries. In Klaipėda, Šenderovas’ work will be performed in the venue that had been built on the foundations of the old Litvak Synagogue.
Musicologist Kamilė Rupeikaitė has pointed to the significance of old Jewish culture and worldview in the work of Šenderovas: it has become a wellspring of inspiration for many creative discoveries by the composer. During his career that has lasted for over a half of a century the composer has garnered many prestigious national and international distinctions, including the Lithuanian National Prize for Culture and Arts.
“I compose music primarily for myself and performers,” confessed Šenderovas in one of his interviews. “Music is not a TV show or a news portal; it must not be a reflection of real life. But it must reach the soul, because it has to do with dreams, to aspiring for things that may not exist. Music is a conversation with God. Unfortunately, his antagonist often celebrates victory in this dispute.”