Paul Brody Colloquium

"Wanderings in a German-Jewish Landscape: Living in the Between"
April 16, 2018 - 12:00pm
236 New Cabell Hall

As part of his residency at UVA, composer and interdisciplinary artist, Paul Brody will present examples of his compositions and sound installations to explore how he understands the intersections of Jewish, German, and North American cultures. Since moving to Berlin in the mid-90s, he has produced seven albums with Jewish themes, including three CDs for John Zorn’s Radical Jewish Culture label, Tzadik.

In recent years, Brody has extended his compositional techniques to include interviews, resulting
in documentary sound installations, poetry-inspired pieces, and radio work. In his first sound installation, for the Heimatkunde exhibition at Jewish Museum in Berlin, he wanted to showcase the critical role played by aurality in Jewish culture. In contrast to the visual culture usually presented in the museum, Brody composed music based on the voice-melodies of people as they explained their sense of belonging — or not —in Germany. The voice melodies inspired musical elements and revealed a intertwining narrative of music and spoken word.

Brody extended his work on the theme of place and identity in his most recent exhibit, Voices of Help at the Schöneberg Museum. While volunteering at a center for refugees, he encountered a young girl who reminded him that his own mother had needed help to escape Nazi Vienna in 1939. He began to ask what prompted people to help other people, and sought out a range of social workers, teachers, and volunteers in his own neighborhood. From these interviews, Brody developed his musical sound installation to tell the concept of help from the perspectives of community and social workers — the kinds of “everyday” people, those not often present in
historical accounts, who might have helped his mother.

Across his diverse works, Brody seems to ask a few basic questions: Is the “between world” its own place? Does it have a sound, an expression, a vocabulary of its own? His presentation will show how he uses elements of klezmer melodies, story-telling, and everyday life in Berlin to inspire his musical imagination.

This event was made possible by the following co-sponsors: The UVA Jewish Studies Program, the Center for German Studies, and the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies.

link to “Voices of Help”:

Free and open to the public
Light lunch
Rsvp to Adam Cohn,


UVA Department of Music
112 Old Cabell Hall
P.O. Box 400176 Charlottesville, VA 22904-4176