Leo Low (1878-1960) A Dudele
LEO LOW (1878-1960)—A DUDELE
Master of the Universe – I’ll sing a “Thou” song to Thee!
Dudeln in German means to “tootle,” as on a wind instrument. Here it is used as a play on the Yiddish words Du, Du [Thou] in an intimate colloquy between man and God, a genre of Chassidic song that sprang up late in the eighteenth century. Popular enough to have entered the folk repertoire, A Dudele and similar songs, like A Din Toire mit Gott, represented the first application of quasi-liturgical words to existent Chassidic niggunim [wordless tunes] of the meditative type known as d’veikus [clinging to God].
The composer Leo Low was born in Wolkowysk, Russia, and the Eastern European element is always apparent in his work. At the age of twelve, he led synagogue prayers for the first time. Three years later he was acting as choirmaster, occupying various posts before emigrating to the United States. His most important contribution to Jewish music was in arranging folk songs. Low’s arrangement of A Dudele, a concert favorite of audiences, was written during his tenure as choirmaster at the Tlomacki Synagogue in Warsaw, 1908-1920. Among numerous arrangements of this work, there is one by the American-born composer Abraham Ellstein and another by Robert De Cormier, whose version is performed at this concert.