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Helen Leneman
Helen Leneman

Helen Leneman is an independent scholar, singer and pianist living in Bethesda, Maryland.

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The Bible Retold by Jewish Artists, Writers, Composers and Filmmakers

Published: Oct 2015
£60.00
Helen Leneman and Barry Dov Walfish, both specialists in biblical reception history, have compiled an unusually rich collection of new essays by experts in their fields. This book is a pioneering attempt to portray and analyse the visions of twentieth- and twenty-first century Jewish artists working in different media —visual art, literature (novels, poetry and short stories), music (opera, oratorio and song), and film —who have retold biblical narratives through their art. Reading these essays together will bring a new appreciation and understanding of what makes the perspective of these visual artists, writers, composers and filmmakers on the Hebrew Bible uniquely Jewish. All of these Jewish visions can be considered a form of modern midrash, as the artists imaginatively fill in gaps in the biblical narrative, bringing a modern sensibility to the meanings of the stories. Under the heading 'Biblical Women', the stories of the matriarchs, Hagar, and other biblical women are re-imagined in the visual arts, poetry and music. Several further chapters focus on the story of the Aqedah (Binding of Isaac), as represented in the visual arts, literature and music. Other retellings of biblical narratives through short stories are then examined, while yet other chapters explore the books of Esther and Psalms as envisioned and retold in the visual arts, opera, literature and film. These retellings, analysed and discussed by the authors of this ground-breaking volume, will stimulate the reader to view the texts in new ways or to confront their challenge to personal or traditional interpretations of those texts.
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The Bible Retold by Jewish Artists, Writers, Composers and Filmmakers

£60.00
Helen Leneman and Barry Dov Walfish, both specialists in biblical reception history, have compiled an unusually rich collection of new essays by experts in their fields. This book is a pioneering attempt to portray and analyse the visions of twentieth- and twenty-first century Jewish artists working in different media —visual art, literature (novels, poetry and short stories), music (opera, oratorio and song), and film —who have retold biblical narratives through their art. Reading these essays together will bring a new appreciation and understanding of what makes the perspective of these visual artists, writers, composers and filmmakers on the Hebrew Bible uniquely Jewish. All of these Jewish visions can be considered a form of modern midrash, as the artists imaginatively fill in gaps in the biblical narrative, bringing a modern sensibility to the meanings of the stories. Under the heading 'Biblical Women', the stories of the matriarchs, Hagar, and other biblical women are re-imagined in the visual arts, poetry and music. Several further chapters focus on the story of the Aqedah (Binding of Isaac), as represented in the visual arts, literature and music. Other retellings of biblical narratives through short stories are then examined, while yet other chapters explore the books of Esther and Psalms as envisioned and retold in the visual arts, opera, literature and film. These retellings, analysed and discussed by the authors of this ground-breaking volume, will stimulate the reader to view the texts in new ways or to confront their challenge to personal or traditional interpretations of those texts.
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Moses: The Man and the Myth in Music

Published: July 2014
£50.00
With this book, Leneman completes a trilogy on musical interpretations of biblical narratives. Her previous books were Love, Lust, and Lunacy: The Stories of Saul and David in Music (2010) and The Performed Bible: The Story of Ruth in Opera and Oratorio (2007). Moses has often been thought of more as a myth than as a man. Later retellings of his story —particularly in operas and oratorios —demythologize him, portraying him and all the characters surrounding him on a more human scale. Moses the statue comes down from his pedestal and becomes a living man. For example, in the Bible the primary relationship of Moses is with God; secondarily it is with the people of Israel, rather than with individuals. In opera and the many oratorio settings the figure of Moses is enhanced by his representation as a man with many emotional ties —to Zipporah, Miriam or Aaron, or to all three. Re-reading and re-telling biblical narratives through musical settings gives voice to often silent biblical characters, offering the reader and listener unexpected ways to hear and understand their story. In Moses: The Man and the Myth in Music, highlighting how Moses was richly imagined in oratorios and operas, Leneman discusses 16 operas and oratorios from the eighteenth to the twentieth century —including works by Handel, Rossini, Saint-Saëns, Massenet, Schoenberg and more obscure composers whose music has seldom or never been explored. Through music, the listener can hear and also feel the suffering of the Israelites; the passion of Moses as leader, liberator, and even lover; the intensity of Miriam's vision and commitment; and the whole range of emotion experienced by every character that inhabits this story. The music and librettos not only fill in the spaces between the lines, but go beyond the margins of the biblical text to conjure up a multi-dimensional world.
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Moses: The Man and the Myth in Music

£50.00
With this book, Leneman completes a trilogy on musical interpretations of biblical narratives. Her previous books were Love, Lust, and Lunacy: The Stories of Saul and David in Music (2010) and The Performed Bible: The Story of Ruth in Opera and Oratorio (2007). Moses has often been thought of more as a myth than as a man. Later retellings of his story —particularly in operas and oratorios —demythologize him, portraying him and all the characters surrounding him on a more human scale. Moses the statue comes down from his pedestal and becomes a living man. For example, in the Bible the primary relationship of Moses is with God; secondarily it is with the people of Israel, rather than with individuals. In opera and the many oratorio settings the figure of Moses is enhanced by his representation as a man with many emotional ties —to Zipporah, Miriam or Aaron, or to all three. Re-reading and re-telling biblical narratives through musical settings gives voice to often silent biblical characters, offering the reader and listener unexpected ways to hear and understand their story. In Moses: The Man and the Myth in Music, highlighting how Moses was richly imagined in oratorios and operas, Leneman discusses 16 operas and oratorios from the eighteenth to the twentieth century —including works by Handel, Rossini, Saint-Saëns, Massenet, Schoenberg and more obscure composers whose music has seldom or never been explored. Through music, the listener can hear and also feel the suffering of the Israelites; the passion of Moses as leader, liberator, and even lover; the intensity of Miriam's vision and commitment; and the whole range of emotion experienced by every character that inhabits this story. The music and librettos not only fill in the spaces between the lines, but go beyond the margins of the biblical text to conjure up a multi-dimensional world.
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Love, Lust, and Lunacy: The Stories of Saul and David in Music

Published: Oct 2010
£65.00
This is Leneman's second foray into the interdisciplinary study of the Bible and music, following her The Performed Bible: The Story of Ruth in Opera and Oratorio (2007). In Love, Lust, and Lunacy she shows how these themes have captured the imagination of librettists and composers of many eras to set the narratives of the books of Samuel to music. Leneman convincingly illustrates music's ability to suggest emotions and character traits that can only be read between the lines of a text, through an in-depth discussion of 16 operas and oratorios from the eighteenth to the late twentieth century —including works of Handel, Nielsen, Parry, Honegger, Milhaud and lesser-known composers. The musical analyses can be understood on different levels by both specialists and non-specialists, providing a new perspective for biblical scholars along with a new appreciation of the biblical texts for musicians and music lovers. Librettists and composers working with the Saul and David stories were alert to the complexity and ambivalence of the biblical portraits, and filled in the blanks left by the biblical writer in stirring and compelling ways. Their gap-filling may sometimes contradict traditional versions or interpretations of the biblical text, but their musical creativity often makes the words and actions of the biblical characters more convincing and compelling. In the musical works reviewed here there are portrayed three-dimensional figures —not only David and Saul, but also Samuel, Michal, Bathsheba, the Woman of Endor and others, personages barely glimpsed between the lines of the biblical text but imagined in different ways by readers in every generation.
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Love, Lust, and Lunacy: The Stories of Saul and David in Music

£65.00
This is Leneman's second foray into the interdisciplinary study of the Bible and music, following her The Performed Bible: The Story of Ruth in Opera and Oratorio (2007). In Love, Lust, and Lunacy she shows how these themes have captured the imagination of librettists and composers of many eras to set the narratives of the books of Samuel to music. Leneman convincingly illustrates music's ability to suggest emotions and character traits that can only be read between the lines of a text, through an in-depth discussion of 16 operas and oratorios from the eighteenth to the late twentieth century —including works of Handel, Nielsen, Parry, Honegger, Milhaud and lesser-known composers. The musical analyses can be understood on different levels by both specialists and non-specialists, providing a new perspective for biblical scholars along with a new appreciation of the biblical texts for musicians and music lovers. Librettists and composers working with the Saul and David stories were alert to the complexity and ambivalence of the biblical portraits, and filled in the blanks left by the biblical writer in stirring and compelling ways. Their gap-filling may sometimes contradict traditional versions or interpretations of the biblical text, but their musical creativity often makes the words and actions of the biblical characters more convincing and compelling. In the musical works reviewed here there are portrayed three-dimensional figures —not only David and Saul, but also Samuel, Michal, Bathsheba, the Woman of Endor and others, personages barely glimpsed between the lines of the biblical text but imagined in different ways by readers in every generation.
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The Performed Bible: The Story of Ruth in Opera and Oratorio

Published: Apr 2007
£40.00
The Bible and Western culture is a burgeoning area of interest in recent scholarship, but comparatively little has been written on the Bible and music. Leneman's is a groundbreaking work, making some pioneering forays across an important interdisciplinary divide. The Performed Bible is an in-depth study of the librettos and music of 12 operas and oratorios on the story of Ruth from the last two centuries, establishing the potential of music, as a kind of midrash, for transforming a Bible text, its narrative and its characterization. The book includes detailed analyses of musical segments, the author being a cantor and professional musician in whose Jewish tradition biblical texts are chanted, not read. This fresh and insightful work will no doubt prove attractive to biblical scholars, to musicians and to music lovers generally.
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The Performed Bible: The Story of Ruth in Opera and Oratorio

£40.00
The Bible and Western culture is a burgeoning area of interest in recent scholarship, but comparatively little has been written on the Bible and music. Leneman's is a groundbreaking work, making some pioneering forays across an important interdisciplinary divide. The Performed Bible is an in-depth study of the librettos and music of 12 operas and oratorios on the story of Ruth from the last two centuries, establishing the potential of music, as a kind of midrash, for transforming a Bible text, its narrative and its characterization. The book includes detailed analyses of musical segments, the author being a cantor and professional musician in whose Jewish tradition biblical texts are chanted, not read. This fresh and insightful work will no doubt prove attractive to biblical scholars, to musicians and to music lovers generally.
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